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Research on perceptions of organizational politics has mostly explored the negative aspects and detrimental outcomes for organizations and employees. Responding to recent calls in the literature for a more balanced treatment, we expand on how positive and negative organizational politics perceptions are perceived as stressors and affect employee outcomes through their influence on the social environment. We propose that employees appraise positive and negative organization politics perceptions as either challenge or hindrance stressors, to which they respond with engagement and disengagement as problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies. Specifically, employees who appraise the negative politics perceptions as a hindrance, use both problem- and emotion-focused coping, which entails one of three strategies: (1) decreasing their engagement, (2) narrowing the focus of their engagement, or (3) disengaging. Although these strategies result in negative outcomes for the organization, employees’ coping leads to their positive wellbeing. In contrast, employees appraising positive politics perceptions as a challenge stressor use problem-focused coping, which involves increasing their engagement to reap the perceived benefits of a positive political environment. Yet, positive politics perceptions may also be appraised as a hindrance stressor in certain situations, and, therefore lead employees to apply emotion-focused coping wherein they use a disengagement strategy. By disengaging, they deal with the negative effects of politics perceptions, resulting in positive well-being. Thus, our framework suggests an unexpected twist to the stress process of politics perceptions as a strain-provoking component of employee work environments.


Peter Faber Business School

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Journal Article

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