Employee Empowerment: Literature Review

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In the literature there are two main views of empowerment (Lakew, 2011). The first is proposed by Robbins (2005), who defines the concept of empowerment as a ‘participative management, delegation and the granting of power to lower level employees to make and enforce decisions’. This definition is consistent with a structural or relational view. Another definition that considers the relational view of employee empowerment is provided by Brymar (1991) as ‘a process of decentralizing decision-making in an organisation, whereby managers give more discretion and autonomy to the front line employees’.

Ghosh (2013, p.95) defines empowerment as ‘the process of shifting authority and responsibility to employees at a lower level in the organisational hierarchy’, and Armache (2013, p.19) further elaborates by describing it as ‘a strategy and philosophy that enables employees to make decisions about their job’.

Thomas and Velthouse (1990) propose a second perspective on empowerment, defining empowerment in terms of a cognitive motivational concept or psychological empowerment. The following definitions are consistent with the psychological concept, for example Carlzon (1987) perceives empowerment as a motivational construct. He asserts that, ‘in an employment context, empowerment fulfils the role of freeing someone from rigorous control by instructions, policies, and orders, and giving that person freedom to take responsibility for his/her ideas, decisions and actions’.

Meanwhile, Conger and Kanungo (1988) view empowerment as a motivational construct and describe it as enabling rather than as a process of delegation. Melhem (2004, p.73) emphasises that empowerment releases hidden resources that would otherwise remain inaccessible to bot...

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