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Reports on an empirical study of the decision to purchase computers in a single firm. States it is a competitive bidding situation with several suppliers attempting to win a contract that eventually reached £3.5 million pounds. Illustrates how the politics of the firm can influence significant purchase decisions and, in particular, how gatekeepers within the firm's buying centre can structure the outcome of purchase decision in line with their position in the political process. Bases the study on a large organisation in England, in the period 1957–1968, with regard to four computer purchase decisions. Concludes that it is clear that the computer suppliers had differential access to the firm's power structure and it was also evident they had differential knowledge of its operation.
In an earlier paper in this Journal the present writer outlined some of the interpersonal factors likely to affect staff specialists' credibility with their clients. These included the specialist's diagnostic ability, his skill in forming multiplex relationships with his clients, the ease with which he coped with the stresses in his role and his facility as a diagnostician and actor in the political arena surrounding any changes he may be recommending. This paper seeks to develop aspects of the political context of the specialist's (or internal consultant's) work by focusing on some of the strategic factors which affect the long term viability of specialist units. A framework is provided which described some of the evolutionary phases specialist groups might go through and practical implications are drawn from this phase model about strategic aspects of the management of specialist activity.
This paper discusses the neglected theme of the political context of the interventionist's work in terms of the client-consultant relationship and the consultant-consultant relationship. It is suggested that the internal consultant's ability to influence clients will be a function of his possession and tactical use of five power resources: expertise, control over information, political access and sensitivity, assessed stature and group support. Of these, the first three appear to be necessary but not sufficient conditions for consultant power. Once he has the political access and understanding, the consultant's ability to negotiate and persuade depends on his assessed stature with the appropriate figures in his political network.