Workplace Politics: Walt Disney Case Study

Workplace Politics: Walt Disney Case Study

Conflict is a contest between two or more individuals with opposing, goals, beliefs, ideas or needs. De Bono (2005) defined conflict as the clash of views, actions, values or interests. In the business world conflicts range from the disagreements between the bottom line employees to the top most management of the organization. However, these conflict take different forms depending on the level of management they are occurring at. This calls for effective resolution of the disagreements at the workplace or else their impacts will jeopardize the productivity of the company. To maintain smooth running of the organization conflict resolution needs specific, decision making, problem solving and leadership skills. Therefore, this essay seeks to explore conflicts, politics and conflict resolution using the case study of Walt Disney. Disney was encumbered with politics at its top management which led to conflicts between the company board and the then Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner. In this scenario the CEO was the main cause of the conflicts. This did not only affect the productivity and the performance of the company but also resulted in the poor relationship between the company and its key trading partners. For example, Steve Jobs the Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney key trading company threatened Eisner that he will not renew the distribution contract his company had with Walt Disney once the current contract expired. Jobs utterances threatened the continuance of Walt Disney and thus the board had to act very fast to save the perpetual existence of the company. The Walt Disney Board adopted a unique conflict resolution technique between Eisner and Job which also seem to extend to Walt Disney. Job was indirectly in conflict with the company due to the personal antagonism which existed between him and Eisner. To save the continued existence of the company Eisner had to resign as CEO and assume the position of the chairman of the board. This strategy by the board indicates how the company can resolve some of the conflicts that may jeopardize the performance as well as the operations of the company in the foreseeable future.

Effects of Power on Organization Structure

Organizational structure may be influenced by the factors which may end up destroying the structure of the entire organization (Tran & Tian, 2013). Traditionally, many of these factors resulting in the changes of the organizational structure are both from the external and internal environments. However, in the modern business world, there are other various factors that may have huge impacts on the structure of the organization (Hollenbeck, 2008). For example, the power vested in the different positions within the organizational structure can have a significant effects on the organizational structure if it is not properly used by those who have been bestowed with it.

Sources and Effects of Power on Organizational StructureSources

According French and Raven (1959) as cited by Lunenburg (2012) there are five primary sources of power in the organization. These sources include:

Legitimate power: This type power is vested within the position of the authority and its scope increases as the managerial hierarchy rises.

Coercive Power: This is power granted to someone at his or her position in the organization structure. It is normally based on fear and thus managers and supervisors tend to use it to get the employees follow their directives.

Reward Power: This is the power vested in the managers to be able to give rewards to the employees.

Expert Power: This is the power resulting from someone expertise. This type of power is normally gained through acquiring experience, skills, and knowledge.

Referent power: This sometimes it is referred as inherent power. It entails of being able to use the naturally acquired abilities to influence others.


Power play the critical role in business, from regulating how company decisions are made to how the people in the organization interact with one another (Lunenburg, 2012). However, the impacts of the power on the organization depends on how it is used. Power can be used either positively or negatively. If used positively it will result establishing organizational structure that favors the employee as well as the progress of the company. On the other hand, negative power leads to establishment of the organization structure that does not neither encourage the employee productivity nor improve the performance of the organization. Therefore, it is important for managers and leaders to note that powers in their position can be used to determine the structure of their organizations either being in the small business or at the large corporation. Evaluation of Organizational Designing/ Strategy in a Global Operations Environment

The managers should evaluate the four strategies of the organizational design in the global operations environment according to the various techniques. First, matching the company structure with the strategy that is in line with the coordination and control needed. Second, putting into consideration the vertical differentiation as well as the integration needed. Third, adopting flat and decentralized global geographic structure as it is the most suitable for the several nations and because its integration is low. Fourth, applying tall and centralized technique for the global strategies that require high to medium level of integration.

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