Essay by gizmolalaUniversity, Master's December 2003

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"Empowerment is a concept that gained popularity in the 90's and is set to continue as a popular initiative in the 21st century. It is a managerial ideology in it's own right as well as being used with other initiatives and strategies such as business process reengineering, total quality management and the learning organisation, it is strongly associated with culture change initiation, delayering and restructuring and usually involves devolving power and responsibilities to teams at workplace or customer level."(Arkin, 1995 cited in Beardwell & Holden, 2001)

Empowerment can be defined as an enabling process that removes unnecessary restrictions from staff at all levels. It moves the responsibility for control from the manager to the team - a move from reliance on control through systems and bureaucracy towards control through trusting. Mullins (1999) defines empowerment as a way of allowing employees greater freedom, autonomy and self-control over their work, and responsibility for decision-making.

The empowerment of employees through releasing their talents and abilities, meeting their inner needs and engaging employees with moral commitment is deemed to be vital feature of organisations. It helps to ease the pressure

Within the work environment and because it is related in a way to organisational performance, it is necessary that employees be committed to organisational goals and objectives. Empowerment makes the business more effective by making the best use of its human resources. It also makes people's jobs more meaningful and liberating, and thus more motivating. For most empowerments effort to succeed, managers and employees must transform their ideas about who exercises influence in the organisation- specifically, that decision making influence will now be shared among individuals who are otherwise hierarchical disparate. According to Malone (1997), the central issues for modern organizations will be how to balance top-down control with bottom-up empowerment. These...