Recently, implemented managerial approaches based on empowerment such as self-managed work teams (SMWT), total quality management (TQM) by organizations with the goal of increasing employee productivity and innovation. The managerial approaches should promote feelings of empowerment among employees and stimulate their behaviors in the way of expected outcomes.
There are many research on the relationship between psychological empowerment (PE) and managerial practices but few articles analyze the relationship between behavioral empowerment (BE) and employee empowerment.
Employee empowerment is considered in two ways:
• As a set of managerial practices aiming at increasing employees’ independence and responsibilities
• As an individual proactive work orientation
From Spreitzer point of view, empowering managerial practices should promote a certain psychological outlook in order to empowering behaviors. According to Spreitzer psychological empowerment (PE) include four ideas indicating a proactive orientation in terms of employee’s role in the organization. Thus, empowered individuals:
(1) find meaning in their work role;
(2) feel competent to perform their work role;
(3) have a feeling of self-determination with regard to specific means to achieve expected results;
(4) believe that they can have a real impact on organizational outcomes.
Not only, empowerment is implemented to change employee cognitions, but also it does to encourage proactive behaviors that can have an impact on organizational outcomes. Boudrias and Savoie (2006) study has provided a conceptual framework and a new instrument to evaluate BE. Their study mentioned that empowered employees conscientiously suppose their work-related responsibilities and proactively initiate changes in their work environment. Empowerment is able to be demonstrated through both active “in-role” and “extra-role” performance such as proactive behaviors, organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB). It should be noted, in their study, behavioral empowerment was defined as self-determined behaviors aimed at securing or improving work effectiveness within the organization. In addition, the five dimensions measured by the behavioral empowerment questionnaire (BEQ) which Table 1 defined them.
Table 1- Dimensions of BEQ
In comparison with other behaviorally based instruments available such as organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), the BEQ measures more specifically individual empowerment, defined as a proactive work involvement. BEQ provides a global score of BE which integrates in-role and extra-role contributions.
Spreitzer (1995) said, psychological empowerment is a critical outlook that needs to be created by empowering conditions like job design to generate employees’ behavioral empowerment. Due to the fact that empowered employees psychologically see themselves as competent and able to influence their jobs and work environments in a meaningful way, they proactively execute their job responsibilities and innovate in their job.
Studies indicate that PE is positively related to in-role performance, customer service, voicing of ideas and helping, innovative behaviors, and various measures of citizenship behaviors. As a result, PE positively affects BE.
Some studies have tried to identify empowering managerial practices that are under supervisors’ control. Arnold et al. (2000) suggested that participative decision-making, leading by example, coaching, informing and interacting positively with the team could be effective SEMP. Such managerial practices would lead employees to see more value in their personal contributions (meaning), to develop an increased self-efficacy to perform and extend their work role (competence), to perceive more opportunity to make choices regarding different facets of their job (self-determination), and to feel that they can really make a difference in their work environment (impact). So, supervisors’ empowering practices, measured in terms of delegation/consultation and transformational leadership, are positively related to PE.
Some studies have shown a significant but weak relationship between management practices and behavioral outcomes. Indeed, review studies have revealed weak correlations between participative management and performance as well as between a supervisor’s autonomy support and employee citizenship behaviors. Overall, these results may suggest that SEMP could be a distal antecedent of BE and a more proximal antecedent of PE.
Relationships between SEMP, PE, and BE
This study found that SEMP are quite strongly correlated with PE but more weakly correlated with BE. Results of structural equation modeling tend to support that PE is a mediating variable between SEMP and BE.
If organizations wish to know whether they are benefiting from their managerial empowerment practices, it is crucial to both measures if they are successfully fostering a proactive motivational orientation in their employees, as well as BE among their employees. This study extends past research by investigating how managerial practices influence not only employee motivation but also employee behaviors. The article suggests that supervisors’ empowering practices contribute to fostering PE, which, in turn, influences BE. Therefore, supervisors could influence the occurrence of empowered behaviors if they can develop a positive mindset among their collaborators with regard to their work role and their contribution to the organization.