Employees strike stability between empowerment and management

The state of affairs is much more difficult and nuanced as a result of there are several types of empowerment within the office.

“Structural empowerment” is when you have got formal decision-making authority as a part of your position or place description and may train discretion in that position.

“Psychological empowerment” is whenever you truly really feel empowered.

You would possibly assume these two types of empowerment would work collectively – that if you’re given discretion over decision-making then you definitely would really feel like you’ll be able to train it.

Nevertheless, we analysed the way in which organisations create and use these two kinds of empowerment and located this isn’t essentially the case. The outcomes have been published within the journal, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability.


Generally the sensation of empowerment may be illusory – you are feeling like you’re empowered however, in actuality, the foundations and procedures it’s important to comply with are tightly managed.

That is like being in a glass cage – you’ll be able to see out and really feel like you have got freedom however then bump up towards invisible limitations, which trigger frustration and pressure.

However, some organisations have excessive ranges of structural empowerment (it’s important to make vital choices as a part of your position) however low ranges of psychological empowerment.

On this state of affairs, described as obstructed empowerment, you are feeling unable to make the mandatory choices wanted, maybe since you are at all times being questioned or undermined.

Then there’s the iron cage – these jobs the place you have got low ranges of each structural and psychological empowerment.

In fact, if you’re a 15-year-old working at McDonald’s, then it’s acceptable to comply with procedures and never train an excessive amount of creativity in your hamburger making however normally, it’s a state of affairs you wish to keep away from.


Genuine empowerment is when you have got excessive ranges of each structural and psychological empowerment and really feel like you’ll be able to train discretion and really get on and do your job.

Most workplaces are a mixture of empowerment and management, however recognising whether or not you’re in a glass cage or obstructed in your decision-making may be useful in understanding this potential supply of frustration and stress.

Managers who take steps to enhance empowerment within the office can considerably improve worker wellbeing and motivation.

And paradoxically, this implies structurally embedding mechanisms to make sure empowerment and autonomy, together with accountability, within the office.

Dr David Brown is professor of administration accounting at UTS Enterprise Faculty; Dr Nicole Sutton is a lecturer at UTS Enterprise Faculty; and Dr Rachael Lewis is a lecturer at UNSW Enterprise Faculty.

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