Ashish MahajanBusiness professor Ashish Mahajan has published research examining how a person’s political behaviour at work can be affected by the culture.

Office politics governed by workplace culture: business prof

Employees in Canada may have more freedom to display political behaviours and gain recognition in the workplace than their counterparts in India, a University of Windsor professor has concluded.

Ashish Mahajan, associate professor of management at the Odette School of Business, and Soo Min Toh, associate professor of organizational behaviour and HR management at the University of Toronto, had their research paper “Group Cultural Values and Political Skills: A Situationist Perspective on Interpersonal Citizenship Behaviors” published in the Journal of International Business Studies in January.

The paper examines how a person’s political behaviour — the ability to understand social situations and adapt accordingly to gain visibility in the workplace — hinges on the culture of that workplace.

Drs. Mahajan and Toh spent two years collecting survey data from 328 employees and 82 immediate supervisors in Canada and India.

“There are people who are politically skilled and would act in ways that may lead to their increased visibility,” Mahajan said.

The research concluded that in egalitarian cultures like those found in Canadian companies, where all people are given equal rights and opportunities, employees have greater latitude to exhibit political behaviours and gain favourable attention from supervisors.

In India, Mahajan said, employees more often accept the supervisor’s authority and are less inclined to question it, which provides less incentive to the politically skilled to display these behaviours as a means to gain visibility.

“People in different cultures, even though they may be politically skilled, may not display the same behaviours because the culture would prevent them from doing so,” Mahajan said.

Academic Area: