Why organisations empower the people and how does it impact the organisation’s performance?

Research Briefing

Keywords: employee empowerment, empowerment practices, empowerment, organisational performance, ambiguity, cost, human resources

One of the distinguishing features in terms of management and human resource management of employees has been the steady increase in interest in empowerment practices. The basis of employee empowerment is that employees are given considerable decision-making power, autonomy and accountability.

The argument that sits behind this move is that adopting empowerment practices not only gets the best from people, motivates them and increases engagement, but also improves organisational performance and increases an organisation’s competitive advantage. Empowerment is a central element of many modern high-performance work practices.

However, the research shows mixed results for such practices and the claims that adopting empowerment practices will unilaterally improve organisational performance and increase an organisation’s competitive advantage is false. It may do, then again it may not. Recent studies have shown that organisations that do not embrace empowerment practices are not always significantly disadvantaged when compared with organisations that do.

These mixed results for empowerment practices raise two questions:

  1. Why do organisations adopt empowerment practices?
  2. How does adopting empowerment practices impact organisational performance?

This research briefing looks at a study which answers these questions and will be extremely useful to anyone interested in empowerment in organisations, which organisations tend to adopt empowerment practices and what the impact is of doing so.

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