A colleague recently drew my attention to an excellent article on the nature and dynamics of organizational coalitions that I had not come across before. It was written by three senior academics at the University of California (Stevenson, Pearce and Porter) and published in 1985 by the Academy of Management Review.
Its title, The Concept of ‘Coalition’ in Organization Theory and Research, hardly sets the pulse racing! But it has some important things to say about the characteristics of coalitions, which resonate strongly with those discussed in Informal Coalitions. In particular, the authors challenge many of the ways in which the term has been misused in the past. They argue that this has led to "… great confusion as to whether it applies to collections of individuals, to collections of subgroups, or even to the entire organization."
I see this article as adding value in two ways. Firstly, the authors offer a definition of the term "coalition", which provides a useful framework for thinking about their nature and dynamics. Secondly, they offer a number of hypotheses about the process of coalition formation. This post considers the first of these.