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As a CAO, general manager, or human resource development practitioner, you need more scrutinize all dimensions and factors of human resource empowerment. This essay helps you to find this by reviewing reliable references.
Organizational researchers have devoted ample attention to the concept of empowerment due to its contribution to a variety of competitive advantages (Maynard et al., 2012; Pigeon, Montani, & Boudrias, 2017). To have a comprehensive implementation of empowerment programs, organizations make effort to investigate the influential conditions leading to empowerment. In the literature of organizational effectiveness, employee empowerment is described as a process through which leaders give decision-making authority to employees and prepare work conditions leading to increasing employees’ full engagement in their job position (Lashley, 1999).
From a theoretical lens, scholars (e.g. Spreitzer, 2008) have regarded empowerment as a concept composed of a three-phase process, including empowering work conditions, psychological empowerment, and behavioral empowerment respectively.
Empowering work conditions. As the first construct, empowering work conditions focuses on the managerial exercises that enrich socio-structural conditions that enhance employees’ autonomy and decision-making engagement. As examples of such empowerment, high-involvement organizational policies, increased work design, and instantaneous administrator’s leadership style can be numerated (Maynard et al., 2012).
Psychological empowerment. Psychological empowerment is regarded as an active motivational orientation with respect to an employee’s work role, in which the employee has sufficient motivation and ability to exert an effect on organizational achievements (Spreitzer, 1995). Due to the nature of empowerment that cannot be imposed, organizations develop psychological empowerment in their work conditions to provide employees with a feeling of empowerment. For successful psychological empowerment, it is crucial that employees perceive the work conditions’ meaningfulness, self-competence, and self-determination. Sustaining psychological empowerment could contribute to behavioral empowerment, which is related to a set of behaviors performed by an employee both to enhance work effectiveness and to engage in the decision-making process (Pigeon et al., 2015).
Behavioral empowerment. As a multidimensional variable, behavioral empowerment refers to boosting efficacy in organizations by preparing employees to take self-initiated actions and engage in decision-making processes (Boudrias et al., 2009). It consists of two types of behaviors: discretionary behaviors and participation in decision-making. Discretionary behaviors are related to an active set of self-determined behaviors emphasizing job efficacy and steady progress in the job, the group, and the whole organization (Boudrias et al., 2009). Nevertheless, participation in decision-making points to the level of the employee’s involvement in decision-making processes, reflecting the degree of influence made via formal decision-making channels to manage individual and collective activities efficiently. This variable emerged from the studies on employees’ influence and power (Heller, 2003) and relied on structural opportunities and work design. Involvement in decision-making is addressed by strategies and techniques of human resource management directed at promoting the employee’s empowerment and reflects a main outcome in the empowerment research (Pigeon et al., 2017).
To boost the optimal functioning of an organization, the employees’ engagement in formal activities (represented the job design of an organization) and their individual initiatives are important (Fu et al., 2015). In this vein, the meaningfulness of work conditions perceived by employees could shed light on the effectiveness of an organization. To foster the employees’ perception of meaningfulness and self-determination in an organization, it is important to cultivate job autonomy among employees (Oldham & Fried, 2016). Job autonomy is an indicator of the responsibilities given to employees and is described as the degree to which the organizational managers allow employees to specify and set the work plan, to make autonomous decisions, and to have a voice in their workplace (Humphrey, Nahrgang, & Morgeson, 2007).
Empirical studies have confirmed the implementation of the three-stage empowerment process that connects empowering work conditions to behavioral outcomes through psychological empowerment (Maynard et al., 2012).
In conclusion, placing value on the concept of empowerment leads to ensuring that organizational aims are followed effectively and it happens when employees accept an active position in their workplace and have a continuous role in the improvement of work methods (Spreitzer, 2008).
Boudrias, J.S., Gaudreau, P., Savoie, A., & Morin, A.J.S. (2009). Employee empowerment: from managerial practices to employees’ behavioral empowerment. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 30(7), 625-638.
Fu, N., Flood, P.C., Bosak, J., Morris, T., & O’Regan, P. (2015). How do high performance work systems influence organizational innovation in professional service firms?. Employee Relations, 37(2), 209-231.
Heller, F. (2003). Participation and power: a critical assessment. Applied Psychology, 52(1), 144-163.
Humphrey, S.E., Nahrgang, J.D., & Morgeson, F.P. (2007). Integrating motivational, social, and contextual work design features: a meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work design literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(5), 1332-1356.
Lashley, C. (1999). Employee empowerment in services: a framework for analysis. Personnel Review, 28(3), 169-191.
Maynard, M.T., Gilson, L.L., & Mathieu, J.E. (2012). Empowerment – fad or fab? A multilevel review of the past two decades of research. Journal of Management, 38(4), 1231-1281.
Oldham, G.R., & Fried, Y. (2016). Job design research and theory: past, present and future. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 136, 20-35.
Pigeon, M., Longpré, P., & Boudrias, J.S. (2015). L’ habilitation comportementale se différencie-t-elle des concepts d’ innovation, de citoyenneté organisationnelle et d’ auto-gestion. Psychologie du Travail et des Organisations, 21(1), 5-22.
Pigeon, M., Montani, F., & Boudrias, J. (2017). How do empowering conditions lead to empowered behaviours? Test of a mediation model. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 32(5), 357-372. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-09-2016-0292.
Spreitzer, G.M. (1995). Psychological empowerment in the workplace: dimensions, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38(5), 1442-1465.