Besides causing problems for the individuals who work together, the end result can be far more devastating. Employees and managers who must concentrate on the political aspects of work may have less time to pay attention their jobs. This translates into financial loss which may in turn translate into job loss.
Office politics is something most people recognize when they see it in action, but find difficult to define. "Office Politics: Do You Play or Pass" defines it as "...the use and misuse of power in the workplace" (Alesko, Michael. "Office Politics: Do You Play or Pass," Today's Careers). This definition implies that office politics is not necessarily a bad thing. I agree that it isn't always bad and it certainly isn't avoidable. Therefore we must learn to cope with it.
In any game, in order to succeed you must know the rules. Office politics can be the most competitive game of all. The stakes are quite high — succeed and you get to keep your job or get promoted — lose and you may be pounding the pavement looking for a new job. When dealing with office politics, having a set of rules is a good idea.