Checkmate: Using political skill to recognize and capitalize on opportunities in the 'game' of organizational life

Charn P. McAllister, B. Parker Ellen, Pamela L. Perrewé, Gerald R. Ferris, Daniel J. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Politics in organizations are a fact of life, and have been regarded as such for decades by organizational scientists and practitioners alike. Unfortunately, far less is known about the skills or competencies needed in order to be successful-and even survive-in such political environments. Although many believe performance, effectiveness, and career success are determined mostly by intelligence and hard work, political perspectives on organizations contend that other factors such as positioning, social astuteness, and interpersonal savvy also play important roles; that is, individuals need to possess political skill. In this article, we describe the underlying features and operation of political skill in organizations, and argue that it allows people to be effective at work by giving them the capacity to more accurately recognize opportunities in the work environment and effectively capitalize on those opportunities. Using the game of chess as a metaphor, we describe how politically skilled individuals strategically employ their competencies in ways that ensure goal attainment. Further, we provide some practical guidance for employees about how to play the organizational politics 'game' to facilitate success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalBusiness Horizons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Expert performance
  • Opportunity capitalization
  • Opportunity exploitation
  • Opportunity recognition
  • Political skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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