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Journal cover: Personnel Review

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Online from: 1971

Subject Area: Human Resource Management

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Empowerment: theory and practice

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Title:Empowerment: theory and practice
Author(s):Adrian Wilkinson, (School of Management, UMIST, Manchester, UK)
Citation:Adrian Wilkinson, (1998) "Empowerment: theory and practice", Personnel Review, Vol. 27 Iss: 1, pp.40 - 56
Keywords:Employee involvement, Empowerment, Human resource management, Participation, TQM
Article type:Conceptual Paper
DOI:10.1108/00483489810368549 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:MCB UP Ltd
Abstract:In recent years, the term empowerment has become part of everyday management language. It has also been associated with popular management movements of the times such as human resource management (HRM) and total quality management (TQM). Empowerment is regarded as providing a solution to the age-old problem of Taylorised and bureaucratic workplaces where creativity is stifled and workers become alienated, showing discontent through individual or collective means. However, there are significant problems with much of the prescriptive literature on empowerment, in that there is little detailed discussion of the problems employers may experience implementing empowerment or the conditions which are necessary for such an approach to be successful. It is assumed employees will simply welcome the new way of working. Moreover, it is also assumed that empowerment is a universal solution appropriate to all organisations in all circumstances. Empowerment itself is not seen in a contingent way. Such literature has also been criticised as superficial and furthermore as trivialising the conflict that exists within organisations.

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