InIIS-Arbeitspapier 42

Kagoro, Jude: The Power Game. Organizational Politics, Intrigue and Machiavellianism in the Ugandan Police Force, InIIS-Arbeitspapier 42/2017

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This article analyzes the complex web of the Uganda Police Force’s organizational politics configured in the relationships among individual police officers, operational structures, administrative hierarchy and sometimes stretching beyond the confines of the force. The organizational politics are characterized by different strands of relationships, but this article particularly concentrate on rivalry and intrigue, which seem opaque to “outsiders” or difficult to disentangle in detail if one is not looking at the police from “inside-out.” Based on a more than four-year ethnographic study of the police, in which the author has been immersed as both a researcher and a consultant, this paper highlights that police officers continuously foment informal alliances in their Machiavellian attempts to accumulate power, control of resources, authority, status and lucrative positions. The article does not pass judgement on the institution per say, but provides a better understanding of the internal workings of the same. It offers a magnifying glass perspective on a Ugandan interface bureaucracy not yet covered by the existing studies.

The article makes a four-dimensional scholarly contribution. First, it contributes to the existing literature on police research in Africa. Second, it broadens our perspectives on bureaucracies in general and interface bureaucracies in Africa in particular. Third, to our understanding of anthropology of state in Africa and ultimately, it contributes to the theory of organizational politics. The analysis in this article uncovers the social and cultural elements that reinforce or neutralize or frustrate state bureaucracies in their everyday exercise of duties and at the same time reveal how overarching and large scale state policies are interpreted, responded to and (re)produced in practical contexts. The insights in this paper helps us to better understand how the police works on a day-to-day basis, what influences promotions and deployments, the distribution of resources and above all comprehend the pressures, motivations and premises upon which officers make decisions.