The Role of Psychological Empowerment on the Relationship of Organisational Change and Employee Engagement

1. Introduction

Psychological empowerment is an approach through which leaders share power with their employees to help guide them to act.  Empowerment is considered to be the interrelationship between authority, accountability, resources and information. This mostly takes place when leaders are able to express their vision in a meaningful way that is understood by the subordinates. As a consequent, it creates opportunities for subordinates not only to enhance creativity and explorations, but also to allows for engagement with minimal resistance to change. In his sentiments, Mayo and Parikh (2016) clarify that empowerment implants seeds of leadership while creating room for collegiality, self-respect and professionalism in the line of duty.  According to Li, Chen, Liu and Peng (2014), opportunity is an indicator of an organisational ability towards the gaining of knowledge and skills, employee empowerment, therefore, creates an atmosphere to access information and technical knowledge and necessary skills to accomplish relevant organisational decisions. Moreover, psychological empowerment is related to ability to manage time, materials and supplies that are needed to support a change process with minimal resistance. [BA1] 

1.1 Overview

Contemporary organisations are required to operate in a vibrant business environment that is consistently changing so as to cope up with the emerging challenges. With the organisational thirst to attain a competitive advantage, new policy and procedures including employee psychological empowerment must the embraced. Sufficient evidence from a publication by Ahmed [BA2] (2015) indicates that most employees are conversant with strengths and weaknesses affecting the success of an organisation. therefore, giving employees an opportunity through psychological empowerment grants an imperative ability for an organisation to attain a competitive advantage.

Organisational citizenship behavior is also another crucial determinant to an organisational change process. It is under this premise that psychological empowerment has been identified as a vital factor in drawing the loyalty of employees and their identification with organisational goals [BA3] (Islam et al., 2014). Besides, psychological empowerment acts as an enabler for employees to work in an organisation through unity thereby allowing an organisation to establish a competitive advantage into an ambience full of motivation and trust. Working under the caring of circumstances intended to be essential features of an organisation, psychological empowerment contributes self-esteem among employees and in turn makes them more independent individuals who are willing to contribute a successful change to the firm (Sun, Pan and Chow 2014). Under circumstances where behaviors have exceeded the delineated role expectation for an organisation to meet its competitive advantage, psychological empowerment becomes a survival factor.   [BA4] 

Many studies have showed the impact of psychological empowerment to an organisation are dynamic, but organisational citizenship behavior is the most crucial output because it prevents chances of resistance from employees during a change implementation process. In this regard, leaders must recognize that the effect of resistance has increased significantly over the last few decades due to globalisation. Private industries for instance, have found the relevance of psychological empowerment in bringing employees together to play a positive role in enhancing general performance in all departments of an organisation. as a consequent, scholars have found it necessary to evaluate the benefits accrued from psychological empowerment of employees as an appropriate intervention in to minimize employee resistance.  [BA5] 

1.2 Problem Statement

Every organisation in a modern business environment is seeking to for professional employees toward the realisation of a competitive advantage. A lot of research indicate that majority of companies are working out varied measures including provision of quality products, customer relationship and affordable products costings to attract and retain customers (Oakland 2014). While literature search revels that psychological empowerment has significantly helped in enhancing organisational competitive, most of the studies mainly focus on the antecedents’ employee engagements. The potential psychological mechanism that look into the relationship between psychological empowerment and resistance to a change process within an organisation is less frequently discussed (Christens 2012). Though previous studies have indicated that that psychological empowerment attributes to positive work outcomes such as work engagement, the results of psychological empowerment to resistance to an organisational change has not been adequately discussed. Therefore, this study is set to fill in the gaps by exploring the role of psychological empowerment on the relationship of organisational change and employee engagement.

1.3 Aim of the research

Psychological empowerment is crucial in the identification of channels in a workplace and motivating employees to participate in the organisational objectives. Besides, psychological empowerment is critical for workplace learning since the knowledge acquired through empowerment promotes sociopolitical awareness, skills development, and organisational tasks participation. Therefore, this study intends to look at the role of psychological empowerment in the relationship between organisational change and employee engagement. The study further seeks to explore the role of psychological empowerment and it relation with employee loyalty towards the realisation of an organisational change.

1.4 Research Objectives       

This study will be guided by the following research objectives:

  1. To conceptualize the concepts of psychological empowerment and job satisfaction   and determine the relationship between the two constructs.
  2. To determine the relationships between psychological empowerment, high performance and engagement in job within an organisation.
  3. To assess the relationship between psychological empowerment and role mediation within an organisation.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the concepts of psychological empowerment and job satisfaction   and determine the relationship between the two constructs?
  2. What is the relationships between psychological empowerment, high performance and engagement in job within an organisation?
  3. How does psychological empowerment affect the role of mediation within an organisation?

2 Literature Review

2.1 Empowerment Concept

Empowerment idea as a way of destiny change was first used by Bucher in year 1970. Empowerment concept in 1990s was mainly designed to factor for areas such as education, management, psychology, social movement studies, and studies aimed at the development of community and economics (Boey, E.K., 2010).  According to Santos, Neumeyer and Morris (2019), empowerment process or concept vary among these different perspectives. The first perspective is psychological perspective which is referred to as psychological empowerment. Kanungo of 1998, Conger, Velthouse of 1990, Thomas and Conger describes this empowerment as a reflective of environmental personal fit being an intrinsic kind motivation. Psychological empowerment is an employee’s status characterized by elevated activation levels and motivation which is intrinsic during tasks performing. This empowerment has thus been defined as design that is based on commitment or awareness (Robbins, Crino and Fredendall 2002).  Kanungo of 1998 and Conger also define empowerment as process of self-efficacy perceptions enhancement by recognizing those conditions that help in powerlessness promotion through practices and techniques of organisations either formal or informal. This makes it important at team, organisational and individual level.

Report from Albeit covered most world areas though, employee’s engagement levels on the basis of psychological empowerment were not explored. During prior research the job engagement diversity was explored primarily where many psychological empowerment consequences and antecedents were identified. Although psychological empowerment linkage with workers’ behavior and altitude has been identified after extant research the relatively scant research rarely revealed individual or organisation factors having impaction on organisational [BA6] change (Mahmood and Sahar 2017). Being specific, not many employees know about human resource or organisation practices roles as job engagement antecedents and the mechanism of intervention that human resource use for job engagement influencing.  

It is of late that more attention has been received by psychological empowerment from different researchers due to its importance in management practices enhancement. For instance, about 70% [BA7] of organisations have embraced empowerment implementation during work due to its main contribution in management practices effectiveness[BA8] .  From previous research empowerment is considered as a common condition with considerable impact on quality of service, job satisfaction, commitment by organisations, productivity and effectiveness of performance (Al-Ababneh et al., 2017). Though, researchers and practitioners are working on increased organisational recognition of the importance of psychological empowerment in enabling solving of different upcoming challenges in business sectors there are still some organisations that encountered failure during empowerment programs implementation. This kind of failure is as a result of neglecting psychological composition from the empowered personnel during the [BA9] implementation.  Schmook et al., (2018) also argued that though, empowerment is an education reform strategy key element it can only be implemented if it has ability for generation of subordinate’s empowerment psychological perception.

2.2 Theoretical and Historical Background Framework

It is of late that different organisation researchers have exerted a commendable interest in job engagement role revelation.  Job engagement is referred to as motivational involvement employed in employees’ inner resources spontaneous manifestation during their contribution through their performance of job towards organisation. Generally, employees usually engage themselves in the work when they are motivated, reluctant to quit from work, satisfied, identified during organisation shows, and committed.[BA10]   A report published by Abbott (2017) indicated that out of the 7,068 research respondents only about 33% were revealed to be embracing engagement in their respective jobs. It is also from the report that China is considered as the region with the lowest engagement level of about 22% as India leads with the highest engagement level of 42%.

Psychological empowerment is among the many concepts proposed for human resource development. The earlier used empowerment definition was authority delegation and sharing of resources and means motivation enabling through self-efficiency enhancement (Jo and Park 2016). There are many different understandings and definitions of concept of empowerment from different authors. The main empowerment concept involves increased individual motivation at work place through power delegation to the organisation lowest level where decision is made by experts. The empowerment key concept involves giving employees more autonomy and responsibilities what provide them with reasonable and commendable freedom to do their work.[BA11] 

2.2.1 Psychological Empowerment and job Satisfaction

Psychological empowerment concept has emerged of late as a major element with implications that are important for effectiveness of organisation and occupation health in business sector. Psychological empowerment, thus, refers to dominance or control sense that different personnel have over the context of employment (George and Sakkariya 2018). When it comes to concept of employment psychological empowerment is perceived as the internal processes number or cognitive type states of psychology that enable change of perception of subject relating to personnel and the context in which it is embraced. Therefore, psychological empowerment involves individuals’ beliefs about work meaning, autonomy sense, ability to influence work results and ability for successful task performance. Different investigations have enabled [BA12] relations existence confirmation between work positive attitude like commitment by organisation, satisfaction of job, pipeline innovation and psychological empowerment granted by leaders to the subordinates.[BA13] 

In a modern business environment, psychological empowerment is used as organisation measure of human’s capital investment (Raineri, 2017). Engagement is termed as a positive or motivational approach that is work related characterized by dedication, absorption and vigor. According to Raineri (2017), vigor involves displaying of high energy levels at work or dedicating high energy level in work meaning. Where psychological empowerment is involved, challenge or enthusiasm is instigated to the work done by someone while complete happiness or concentration during work period refers to absorption. Psychological empowerment at work help individuals in dealing effectively with stressful work demands thereby impacting on performance.

Psychological empowerment is also considered as a state of psychology that are important in making employees to have work related sense of control in work places. As pointed out by Spreitzer and Hwang 2019), it is usual about how employees experience their role at work in relation to the involved organisation. Empowerment as a strategy for management has been recognized by researchers and practitioners as one of the reasons as to why the organisation is required to meet present business environment challenges mainly in dynamic change and turbulent concepts. People who are empowered have the motivation due to their ability to effect changes or influence their environment of residence. Employees with the empowerment have the ability to ensure the organisation has increased its capabilities and achieved its desirable results by changing it to a learning one.[BA14] 

Based on a study conducted by Qu, Janssen and Shi (2017), the findings confirmed that there is a reason or requirement to have expectation of relation of engagement of employees with attitudes like satisfaction of job, behaviors and intentions of involved individuals. Kahn of 1992 [BA15] had the proposal of engagement leads between individual outcomes like people work quality and experience and outcomes of different organisation levels like organisation productivity and growth. The engagement experience has been termed as the state of mind or experience from work that is fulfilling.

2.2.2 Work System of High Performance and Engagement in Job

The work system of high performance and job engagement refers to human resources practices that are interconnected though separate deliverables such as performance appraisal development, rewarding and flexibility among others. According to Eldor and Vigoda-Gadot (2017), Psychological empowerment has always remained an important issue in human resource management agenda. Varied literature indicate that high performance work system which is an outcome of the employee empowerment is best observed through employee attitudes and employee engagement in response to universalistic effects of issues affecting an organisation.

The interconnected practices of human resource have influence over each other with synergistic effect as a whole. The signals about employees worth or importance are also sent within organisation in case of work system of high performance and job engagement (Jabbour, and de Sousa Jabbour 2016.). The message about commitment and support by organisation to employees is also sent. Based on signaling theory as cue of environment the high-performance system signal to workers that the institution recognizes contribution by employees, recognizes their worth, recognizes development fostering, help them have positive interpretation of human resources practices and cares about their knowledge and skills. The incorporation of this work system of high performance and job engagement like job security enhancement, training that is rigorous, selective recruitment, autonomy and rewards based on performance brings out the organisation intention to invest human resources treating the employees as capital[BA16] .

While expanding on the benefits of the psychological empowerment to an organisation, Grencíkova, Guscinskiene and Spankova (2017). clarifies that it improves employee motivation and satisfaction that is needed for an effective work system. the benefits of psychological empowerment can be exercised through supportive relationship to employees. according to Yue, Men and Ferguson (2019), leaders that implement the use of   employee empowerment signals desire to support relationship with their employees. As a consequent, they end up providing promotional opportunities which are also indicators for positive work performances. in recognition to investment in employees and employees’ security, psychological empowerment is utilized to showcase a sign of long-term relationship between leaders and their subordinates that in turn increases the likelihood to provide high quality performances. 

Psychological empowerment has direct linkage with attitude like job satisfaction from employees, creativity, job behavior, commitment by the organisation, innovative behavior, active coping and citizenship behavior. High engagement levels are however, negatively related to turnover, burnout but have positive relation with well-being of employees. Though many researches involved identification of psychological empowerment as impact on employee’s outcome from organisation or behaviors that are related to work, some studies revealed individual and organisational factors as job engagement antecedents.[BA17]  Taking for instance, Noblet et al., (2017) studied different psychological conditions of both disengaged and engaged employees at work identifying conditions like psychological safety, psychological availability and meaningfulness of psychology. The job engagement linked antecedents included: justice from organisation, organisation tenure, achievement need, authentic leadership, psychological empowerment, trust from organisation and supervisor perceived support.


2.2.3 Psychological Empowerment Role Mediation

The research done before [BA18] emphasized more on mediation role in psychological empowerment in the interrelation between the contextual factors like attitudes and behaviors of employees, policies and practices of the organisation. To be more specific psychological empowerment serves as mechanism of mediation on how workers work related attitude and behavior are influenced by the human resource practices (Huang 2017). Research also indicated that psychological empowerment enhances the system of high-performance positive relationship with the extra role behaviors like proactive employee behavior and citizenship organisation behavior what is well illustrated in previous studies[BA19] . During study in 2011 Robinson (2019) discovered that psychological empowerment facilitated the influence on employee engagement leadership empowerment. The study by Fan, Zheng, Liu and Li (2016.) involving 300 clinical nurses as samples from China indicated that psychological empowerment facilitated the positive professional nursing involved practice environment relationship with work engagement nurses. Wang and Ellinger (2011) also found recently in that perceived support from organisation facilitated the human resource practices of high-performance relationship with the involved job engagement.  The study Bono et al., (2007) also revealed the mediation role of employee’s job satisfaction and positive mood in high performance system relation with engagement by employees. During a meta-analysis researcher found the transmission of voice and empowerment to be effects of increased managerial practices performance. From the findings we can say that psychological empowerment may give explanation as to why employees embrace high engagement in work place in connection with work system of high performance and job engagement. We can also argue that this high-performance work system makes employees to feel the high psychological empowerment increasing their engagement at work place[BA20] .

New directions in leadership focuses more on the positive leadership role expected of an organisation. In this context, psychological empowerment of employees is thus crucial in the realisation of a positive relationship with the subordinates as well as members of team especially in the handling conflict situations. As pointed out by Men, and Stacks (2013), empowering employees positively affects outcomes of an organisation. Srivastava, Bartol and Locke (2014) proves that empowering leadership behavior for instance is a sure way of realizing performance by enhancing self-efficacy. It is further noted that the psychological empowering of employees finally leads to customer satisfaction.

The employee’s empowerment has been recommended as way of enhancing performance of the organisation in literature. Different organisations require employees that be motivated where the benefit or outcome of motivated employees is the psychological empowerment. It is good to know that for the organisation to achieve its goals it should empower its employees psychologically. The psychological empowerment of employees makes them to embrace positive attitude change and behavior and cognition what brings positive change in orientation of value, self-esteem improvement, having ability to postpone desire gratification, better psychological wellbeing and self-efficacy in work place.[BA21]  Randel et al., (2018) gives a more advanced explanation for empowerment possible role in good job behaviors to be embraced in work engagement.  Joo, Lim and Kim (2016) also bring argument that empowerment of employees is enhanced if they are able to perceive their working areas as sectors to access necessary power beneficial in meeting the responsibilities, development and growth. In his [BA22] empowerment model more, emphasis on environment enabling or empowerment structure access like information, resources, opportunities and support is discussed. Finally, the empowerment of an employee behavior is different from employee empowerment in that an empowered leader facilitates self-managed employees while creating opportunities for job sharing that are positively reflected in the organisational commitment.

3 Methodology

3.1. Data collection

This study will be supported by both primary and secondary methods of data collection. Therefore, primary and secondary data will be utilized respectively.  Primary data will be obtained through surveys whereby questionnaires will be posted to the respondents to answer to the questions regarding the role of psychological empowerment on the relationship of organisational change and employee engagement.The responses are expected to be consistent to the objectives of the study. In this regard, questions will be predesigned in a questionnaire. On the other hand, secondary data will be obtained by accessing electronic databases for previous publications [BA23] regarding the role of role of psychological empowerment on the relationship of organisational change and employee engagement. Based on the above topic and the nature of the study, survey method has been identified as the preferred method of study. [BA24] 

3.2. Surveys

As previously mentioned, [BA25] survey design was identified as the main research design to support this study. Therefore, questionnaires will be designed and employed to respondents (open and close ended questions). [BA26] Other than being a popular method in scientific study, it was identified because it is easier to administer and does not require trained personnel to collect data. According to Ponto (2015), the use of survey reduces chances of bias during the process of data collection and the identities of the participants are usually withheld for confidentiality purposes. In many cases, the respondents filing in the questionnaire remains anonymous thereby granting them more confidence to share sensitive information without fear.  Therefore, questionnaires will be designed and piloted before commencing on actual data collection process to ensure consistency and suitability of being able to capture all the required data.

3.3. Sample size and selection

According to Choy (2014), it is a requirement for scientific studies to seek for primary data for the respondents so as to have credible information regarding a scenario. To establish the role of psychological empowerment on the relationship of organisational change and employee engagement, it would be necessary to collect data from the leadership of an organisation since they are better placed to answer to issues affecting an organisation.  Therefore, the study will compare the relationship between psychological empowerment, employee change and employee engagement in an organisation. this is expected to contribute a deeper understanding of psychological empowerment, employee engagement and the success of an organisation in the long run.

A total of 6 different organisations [BA27] operating in the UAE have been identified case areas of the study. in this regard, a sample size of 200 administrators [BA28] working in the human resource departments will be sourced to participate in the study. However, sufficient measures will be put in place to ensure that only those who have worked at the human resource department for a period of not less than 5 years have been selected. Maximum variation sampling technique will be employed in organisation selection so the phenomenon will be studied at different levels. A total of the 15 of both closed and open-ended questions have been set for distribution. It is also clear to note that simple sampling technique has been proposed to facilitate the process of sampling the respondents. [BA29] 

To ensure that credible data are obtained from this study, it is important to test the data collection instruments to guarantee that they are able to support the process of investigation. Therefore, a piloting is vital for this assessment. 

3.4. Pilot study

A piloting study for the questionnaires will be conducted by choosing 10% of the total questionnaires   and proceeding to make corrections based on the result that shall have been obtained. According to Derrick (2016), this process is vital in improving the readability while reducing changes of questions being misinterpreted.  Based on a sample size of 200, only 20 participants formed part of the piloting study. Besides, those involved in the piloting test will not take part in the actual study. The ideas are basically meant to confirm the suitability of research method, framework, tools and researcher readiness for undergoing the interview.[BA30] 

3.5. Ethical consideration

Resecah requirement indicate that any investigations involving either people or animal [BA31] must be supported by some form of ethical consideration. In support of the above sentiments, the researcher will ensure utmost secrecy all the time during the course of this study. Besides, only those who shall take part in this study will understand the uniqueness of the participants. Before the commencement of this study, the researcher will seek for permission from the respondents and will explain to them that participation is voluntary.  Another ethical consideration that will be employed in this study is confidentiality. All the data collected shall not be shared to any unauthorized person.

3.6. Data analysis

The researcher will employ Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21, and bivariate (a technique used in SPSS to test the correlations among the variables). While cross-tabulation will be used to analyze qualitative data, content analysis will be used to analyze numerical data obtained from the respondents. Therefore, a linear regression analysis will be used to enable the researcher to cover and explore intensively the variable s of psychological empowerment and organisational change. [BA32] 

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