Internal politics are a system of social networking and usage of power within the workplace or an organization. Internal politics, or office politics, affect everything from controlling the radio to getting a promotion or pay raise.
According to the scholarly paper "A Theory of Organizational Dynamics: Internal Politics and Efficiency," internal politics can be effective if the balance is struck right. It allows organizations to maintain welfare in the face of change. However, office politics often have a bad reputation. Some people are seen as insincere sycophants only out for their own gain. Sometimes people become aggressive in their quest for power in the internal political landscape.
Office politics often looks like just taking an interest in the welfare of the company or organization. People offer suggestions for improvement, volunteer for duties and just generally make themselves useful. People who don't want to engage in internal politics often appear unfriendly or unhelpful, even if they're excelling at their job.
Sometimes internal politics simply involves good manners and sensitivity. For instance, it's polite to acknowledge those who didn't get a promotion when one person was awarded it. Doing so makes the social landscape of the office more pleasant for everyone. In fact, administrators often consider political savvy in the office when awarding promotions because such people have proven themselves capable managers.