The empowerment experience: a study of two organisations
thesisposted on 14.03.2017, 15:43 by Helen Askey
The growth of empowerment in organisations has led to line managers changing their approach to people management. Working with team members who desire autonomy, purpose and meaning implies a change of management approach from a hierarchical ‘power over’ style to one of enabling and supporting, whilst still managing the performance of their team. This thesis explores the structural and psychological empowerment experience in two organisations, with eight line managers and twenty-seven team members participating in the qualitative interview research. The original contribution to academic knowledge is the examining of the empowerment experience from psychological and structural perspectives to offer a more in depth understanding of the empowerment experience. This has contributed to the discourse on empowerment, and finds that the structural empowerment mechanisms that line managers believe to be supporting team member empowerment are from the team member view in fact not contributing significantly to their empowerment. These formal mechanisms would seem to offer the line manager reassurance that work performance is happening, and it is the more informal line manager conversations as well as the actions taken by team members that contribute to a successful empowerment experience from the team member perspective. The research identifies how line managers engage in managing performance of empowered team members, and highlights there are optimal levels of activity that enhance the empowerment experience. These are unique to each employee, and involve the line manager being aware of their own impact as well as the needs of each employee. The research identifies that organisational performance management approaches need to support highly empowered employees by reflecting the employee’s needs for selfdetermination, meaning, impact and competence (Spreitzer 1996). Further study is required to research how line managers assess empowerment readiness and success.