Explain the Concept and Dimensions of Empowerment.

Conger and Kanungo (1988) have defined empowerment as a process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among organizational members through the identification of conditions that foster powerlessness and through their removal by both formal organizational practices and informal techniques of providing efficacy information. This definition speaks of empowerment as the motivational concept of self-efficacy.

This uni-faceted approach has been challenged by Thomas and Velthouse (1990). The alternate approach accepts empowerment as multifaceted. The latter definition describes empowerment more broadly as increased intrinsic task motivation manifested in a set of four cognition’s reflecting an individual’s orientation to his or her work role meaning, competence, self-determination and impact.

Dimensions: A look at the four cognition’s reveal the various dimensions of Empowerment:

Meaning: Meaning is described as the value of a work goal or purpose judged in relation to an individual’s own ideals or standards. It involves a fit between the requirements of a work role and beliefs, values and behaviors. In other words, if the person views the task to be performed s something worthwhile, then the task becomes. meaningful and if the task is perceived as trivial, the task becomes meaningless.

Competence: Competence, or self-efficacy, is an individual’s belief in his or her capability to perform activities with skill. Competency is analogous to agency beliefs, personal mastery or effort performance expectancy. Competency is a personality dimension reflected in the person’s belief in his/her own mastery of his/her job or in his/her expectation to put forth the efforts required far the effective performance of his/her role.

Self Determination: It is an individual’s sense of having choice in initiating and regulating. actions (Deci, Cannel & Ryan, 1989). Self-determination reflects autonomy in the limitation and continuation of work behaviors and process, examples could be making decisions about the methods, pace and effort.

Impact: Impact is the degree to which an individual can influence strategic, administrative, or operating outcomes at work (Ashforth, 1989). It must be noted that impact is influenced by the work context and is not a global personality characteristic that endures across situations. Spreitzer (1995) points out that these four cognition’s reflect an active (as opposed to a passive) orientation to a work role.

This active orientation is explained as an orientation in which an individual wishes and feels able to shape his or her work role and context. Ford and Pottier (1995) also endorse that Empowerment to be total and absolute would mean empowering a person to make Both Job context and job context decisions.

Das (1992) has pointed that Empowerment can be brought through formal and informal systems in the organization. Empowering through informal social processes is seen in the case of empowering leadership used by successful corporate chief executives and male especially in the mentorprotege relationships. The mentorprotege relationships have been reported to be instrumental in supporting bath career advancement and personal growth. Empowerment to be really successful has to come through both the formal and informal systems in an organization.

The actual implementation of Empowerment would consist of the following decision-making stages:

  • Stage 1 : Problem Identification.
  • Stage 2 : Alternative Development.
  • Stage 3 : Alternative Evaluation.
  • Stage 4 : Alternative choice.
  • Stage 5 : Implementation/Follow up.

Ford and Fottler (1995) have argued that increasing authority to make decisions should be first provided with regard to job. Once the sense of empowerment over the job content is achieved, then it is time to concentrate an empowerment over the  job content.

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