Topic: Change Management Question: The concept of empowerment has generated much debate over recent years. What is your opinion?

Essay by bozzyboyUniversity, Master'sA, February 2004

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It is widely recognized that people are the most important asset an organization has, but they are also the most underutilized resource. In the increasingly competitive, knowledge based economy; independent entrepreneurship and initiative are the vital edge for organizations to achieve competitive advantage. Highly motivated and educated staff are critical to the development and implementation of strategies. In today's knowledge based corporate environment, managers must work towards engaging the organization forcefully enough to achieve its objectives, and flatter hierarchal structures and a multi-skilled workforce characterize this new environment. In this environment managers have realized that autocracy is no longer feasible and are giving decision making responsibility and authority, empowering employees, who are often better positioned, experienced and educated to make these decisions more reliably and quickly.

The movement of Empowerment within organizations has receive wide spread endorsement and support as a method of transferring power, responsibility and authority from top management to the lowest organizational levels.

There are a myriad of definitions for empowerment that have progressed from "giving power to people who are at a disadvantaged spot in the organization (Kanter, 1997) to "the act of giving people the opportunity to make workplace decisions by expanding their autonomy in decision making" (Vogt, 1997). In essence though empowerment is represented as a true diffusion and trust-building practice that gives both responsibility and authority to people throughout organizations. There has been a substantial effort made by organizations to implement empowerment into their workplace, however few organizations have been successful and the practice of empowerment has failed in its promised deliverables.

This failure can be partly blamed on the inherent contradiction in empowerment. Empowerment makes the assumption that power resides in top management, and that this power can be bestowed upon lesser ranking staff within the organization. However, if it can be...