ASSESSMENT FRONT COVER SHEET
PEOPLE IN ORGANISATIONS MGT5063
*excluding bibliography, references and appendices
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Pursue of employee empowerment – challenges and difficulties
Employee empowerment, or participative decision-making process (Nykodim and
Simonetti, 1994), has broadly been accepted as a crucial element towards modern organizational success (Baird and Wang, 2010). Yet despite many empirical articles and theories demonstrate the prominent role of this term, whether this approach is feasible in reality still remains controversial as managers or employers may find it subtle to define it exactly (Linda, 1997) or implement it in practice. This may partly because each organization should find its own definition of empowerment in line with different situations (e.g. culture, background, discipline, scale, staff’s quality and objectives) of the organization, from which, in my own opinion, two basic but decisive questions emerge: 1. whether to adopt empowerment? 2. To what extent should it be adopted? This article aims at demystifying employee empowerment, identifying its role and the consequent impacts and hardships in the process of management practice through a cluster of self-reflective community practices, recent workshop experiences as well as critical evaluation on different theories associated.
Thereafter, an explicit, independent, reflective and critical interpretation of employee empowerment will be presented as a result.
Since the year 1990 is suggested as a new chapter of empowerment (Sullivan, 1994), the term ‘employee empowerment’ has been widely referred to in recent years. Some gurus like peters (1992) and Moss-Kanter (1989) consider employee empowerment as a positive approach towards managerial problems. Yet the true meaning of
‘empowerment’ still seems vague though hundreds of scholars have made their attempts to give it a clear definition. According to Greasley et al (2005), this may because the term represents a wide range of managerial activities, from ‘sham’ empowerment (Rosenthal et al, 1997), to highly autonomic, authorized empowerment.
Also, this term has multiple dimensions, including psychological empowerment
(Conger and Kanungo, 1988), self-empowerment (Landes, 1994), interactive empowerment (Pastor, 1996) and so forth, furthermore, many authors and scholars tend to use different rhetoric words to even describe the same concept, which made it more elusive. In order to truly understand employee empowerment, a good approach is to start from its root definition. Originally, it can be defined as ‘authorize’ or ‘given power’ (Tulloch, 1993), which indicates, for example in a company, employees are enabled to share some of the powers from the upper level and are allowed to participate in the decision-making process. This also means the situation where individuals can take responsibilities for their own action plans (Pastor, 1996). The former one implies the importance of corporate participation while the latter one highlights the significance of the individual in the truly triumphant empowerment practice. More generally speaking, employee empowerment means to truly give authorities to most-junior staffs, allow them to be responsible for tackling customer complaints or having a say in the business conferences without asking for permissions, instead of working under the bureaucratic or instructive processes (Sirkin, 1993). By contrast, fake empowerment occurs when those managers who simply delegate