Reimagining Power and Micro-politics in Project Organisations


  • Johan Olaisen BI norwegian Business School
  • Helene Jevnaker BI Norwegian Business School, Norway



Powe, Micropolitics, Project management, Power games, Project leader, Project team, Influence


The empirically investigated problem of our paper is what impact do micropolitics and power have on project management in an organization? Informal power and micropolitics played a massive role in the projects, and personal and relational knowledge appeared in all projects to achieve the expected results. The project manager uses personal networks, personal relations, and mentor's network with cognitive, affective, and emotional influence as power and politics if needed to achieve expected results. Power and micropolitics were necessary skills and tools for a successful project manager. The findings relate to the manager's intentions. The informal power and micro-politics process are reused in every project because informal power and micropolitics are a part of project work. Power accumulation and wise handling are essential leadership tools for every manager. Employees work for managers who have power over those who do not. The former can get them what they want: visibility, upwards mobility, and resources. Micropolitics and power represent a unique competence (i.e., knowledge, experiences, and attitudes) and tool for handling any project. Power is significantly underrated as a tool to control and govern projects. Micropolitics is a part of that tool to get the decisions the project leader wants, maybe with future promises. A democratic and consensus-oriented decision process opens for power games and micropolitics rather than hedging them in more hierarchical organizations. A complex matrix organization involving employees in many projects is also open to micropolitics and power. Micropolitics and power might prolong and complicate decision-making processes in ordinary projects and improve processes in fast-track projects. Micropolitics and power both increase and reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization. The higher complexity, the higher returns on using power and micro-politics to get the expected project results.