Empowerment

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1 Definition

  • To empower is to equip or supply someone with an ability; to enable.
  • Empowerment is strongly correlated with task motivation. Therefore one can claim that in order to engage teachers in pedagogical reform one must give them some control over their own work and influence in the reform process. It also means that "fake empowerment" strategies will lead to bad oucomes (see the Baruch empowerment model.)

See also: teacher empowerment.

2 General models of empowerment

According to Baruch (1998), Thomas and Velthouse (1990) define empowerment by the existence of four components:


  • Choice - providing employees with genuine job enrichment and opportunities to have not only their voice heard, but giving them real power for control and influence over work processes.
  • Competence - enabling the people to be confident in their capacity to make these choices. Enhancing their self efficacy as a pre-condition to make decisions and stand for them.
  • Meaningfulness - valuing the work being done by the empowered people.
  • Impact - letting the people have actual influence over what is going on in the organization, ensuring their decisions make a difference.


According to Dee et al (2003): Empowerment appears to reinforce a range of requisites for effective employee functioning, including:

  • autonomy (freedom to do the work);
  • knowledge (tools to do the work);
  • importance (a sense of personal impact); and
  • feedback (information about how people are doing).


  • According to Dee et al. (2003), empowerment can be defined with Spreitzer's four dimensions:
  1. meaning, "the value of a work goal or purpose, judged in relation to an individual's own ideals or standards" (Velthouse, 1990)
  2. competence, "an individual's belief in his or her capacity to perform activities with skill" (Spreitzer, 1995).
  3. self-determination; an individual's sense of having a choice in initiating and regulating actions (Deci et al., 1989).
  4. impact, "degree to which an individual can influence outcomes at work (Ashforth, 1989).


3 References

  • Ashforth, B. (1989), "The organizationally induced helplessness syndrome: a preliminary model", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 43 pp.207-42.
  • Baruch, Yehuda (1998). Career Development International, Volume 3, Number 2, pp. 82-87. HTML retrieved 15:19, 3 June 2006 (MEST).
  • Conger, J.A., Kanungo, R.N. (1988), "The empowerment process: integrating theory and practice", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 13 No.3, pp.471-82.
  • Deci, E., Connell, J., Ryan, R. (1989), "Self-determination in a work organization", Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 74 pp.580-90.
  • Dee, Jay R., Alan B. Henkin, Lee Duemer (2003). Structural antecedents and psychological correlates of teacher empowerment", Journal of Educational Administration, Volume 41 Number 3 pp. 257-277, ISSN 0957-8234
  • Malone, T.W. (1997), "Is empowerment just a fad? Control, decision making and IT", Sloan Management Review, pp.23-35.
  • Mondros, J. B., & Wilson, S. M. (1994). Organizing for power and empowerment. New York,NY: Columbia University Press.
  • Spreitzer, G. (1992), "When organizations dare: the dynamics of organizational empowerment in the workplace" .
  • Spreitzer, G. (1995), "Psychological empowerment in the workplace: dimensions, measurement and validation", Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 38 No.5, pp.1442-65.
  • Thomas, K.W., Velthouse, B.A. (1990), "Cognitive elements of empowerment: an 'interpretative' model of intrinsic task motivation", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 15 pp.666-81.