Varieties of political capital and power in organizations: A review and integrative framework

William Ocasio*, Jo Ellen Pozner, Daniel Milner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We review the organizational literature on power in light of Bourdieu’s concept of capital to further a political capital perspective on power in organizations. In reviewing the literature, we find that Bourdieu’s concepts of economic, cultural, social, and symbolic capital provide a useful beginning, yet are imprecise and insufficient for organizational research. We therefore modify and extend Bourdieu’s typology to include knowledge, reputational, organizational, and institutional capital as distinct varieties of political capital in organizations. We provide an integrative framework and further review the concept of political capital as determinant of power within organizations, focusing on its activation and mobilization, its convertibility, and the contingency of its value in organizations. We also bring to the fore various mechanisms latent in the extant literature that explain how political capital generates power—not only resource dependence but also status, identification, and legitimacy. Our proposed political capital framework provides a foundation for further research on power in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-338
Number of pages36
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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