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Unformatted text preview: Introduction The buzzword empowerment has become a strategic concern for managers, human resource professionals and consultants alike. Perhaps because of this, much of the literature is highly prescriptive. In their attempts to empower workers, therefore, managers have been encour- aged to view empowerment in rather simplistic terms, and as a relatively unproblematic solu- tion to a range of strategic management and labor management problems. Further to this, there is also the implication that the process of empowerment will lead to clear and desirable gains for both managers and workers. It seems then that the definition of empower- ment which underscores empowering initiatives is accepted as being both self-evident and held in common by all groups in industry. This article will argue that this notion of empower- ment is framed too narrowly. The article will argue that authors tend to shy away from defining empowerment in any mean- ingful, or contextual, way. It will argue that, when analyzed within the context of work, the definition of empowerment and the descriptions of states of empowerment offered seem strange- ly passive. Undue stress seems to be placed on the managerial role of empowerer at the expense of those who are to be empowered. Thus, a passive definition of empowerment is developed and passive roles are ascribed to those supposedly empowered. This raises key questions over the status and aims of empower- ing initiatives which this article will attempt to address. To this end the article is structured as fol- lows: first, the business aims of empowerment and the forces promoting interest in empower- ment will be analyzed; second, empowerment as defined in the literature on managerial empow- erment will be analyzed in comparison with the variety of ways in which the term may be inter- preted. Here attention will be drawn to active, or perhaps more properly activist, models of empowerment; third, based on this analysis a case will be made for activist models as representing a fruitful approach by which to 25 Rooting for empowerment? David Collins The author David Collins is Lecturer in Human Resource Management, the University of Sunderland, UK. Abstract Quality, flexibility, and commitment are the buzzwords of management strategy and reflect many of the goals currently sought in business. In order to contribute to these business goals, human resource professionals have had to rethink the contributions they make. This has led to the creation of yet more buzzwords including the buzzword empowerment. Argues that interest in empowerment is not matched by a wider reflection on the factors which have promoted and facilitated these goals, nor is it matched by any wider reflec- tion on the nature of organizations. Argues that these oversights have led to an implicit and passive definition of empowerment being used. To redress this balance, analyzes the forces which have promoted innovation in management, and have made empowerment thinkable. Makes a case forand have made empowerment thinkable....
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2010 for the course MARKETING 107 taught by Professor Vivian during the Spring '10 term at SCA NC.
- Spring '10
- The Land