Routes to organizational influence: the facets of political skill and social network centrality
Bradshaw, Robert Patrick
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Political skill describes an individual’s ability to successfully navigate the political arena of organizations (Ferris et al., 2007). The present study tested whether political skill and its four dimensions (i.e., social astuteness, interpersonal influence, apparent sincerity, and networking ability) are related to individuals’ occupancy of central positions in three types of interrelated organizational social networks (i.e., workflow, communication, and friendship networks). A survey was administered to the employees of a university IT department. From employee self-reports, the three networks were drawn upon 141 employees, and hypotheses were tested with exponential random graph modeling. Findings reveal that political skill is related to high activity (i.e., sending many ties) in all three networks, but only related to high popularity (i.e., receiving many ties) in the friendship network. Findings further reveal nuanced distinctions in which facets of political skill predict which social networks. The patterns of results for networking ability were the same as for the political skill composite score. Findings suggest that politically skilled individuals carefully and strategically measure their level of activity in at-work relationships, and accrue recognition and influence through informal networks.