Managing Human Resource Management through Empowerment Policy: Assessing Structural Perceptions at a Local Authority Level

Managing Human Resource Management through Empowerment Policy: Assessing Structural Perceptions at a Local Authority Level

Mabebe Ntumva (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania) and Josephat Itika (Mzumbe University, Tanzania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5146-3.ch009
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Abstract

Since 1990s, local government reforms in Tanzania have emphasized empowerment at all levels as part of decentralisation by devolution. The major objective was to give more power where it should belong. One of the areas was human resource empowerment to take proactive roles in decision-making and day-to-day management of local authorities. The chapter draws data from a cross-sectional case study covering a sample of 103 out of 206 employees working in Mvomero district council to determine employees’ perceptions on the existence of structural aspects of empowerment in the organisation. By using frequencies and Chi square tests, the chapter concludes that the general perception is weak, and indeed, there is significant difference between theory and practice.
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Employee Empowerment As Policy And Strategic Endowment

Employee empowerment which came up in 1990’s is known as one of the new management concepts (Honold, 1997). The reviews of various literatures indicate that, the main theme of empowerment basically revolves around the concept of empowerment and organizational change. Peters and Waterman documented a new management approach that understood employees as “entrepreneurs” who, if allowed to function without bureaucratic rules, could take “destiny into their own hands” (Wilkinson, 1998). This concept became popular in management approaches such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and the Human Resource Management (HRM) movement. Thomas and Velthouse (1990) believed that empowered employees demonstrate flexibility in controlling their own tasks, initiate new tasks in response to problems or opportunities, and demonstrate resiliency to obstacles, thereby sustaining motivation in the face of problems or ambiguity.

Parker and Price (1994) used self-administered surveys to study 692 workers and 141 managers of group homes in Michigan. They defined empowerment as the employee’s perceived control over decision making in the organization. They examined the level of managerial support for empowerment and found that managers who empower their employees did not lose their own sense of empowerment. Likewise, workers who perceived their managers as supportive believed that they were influential in the organization. Workers feel most empowered when they perceive that their managers are both empowered and supportive. According to them, the workers’ own sense of empowerment increased when they had supportive managers who perceived that they were empowered and in control of their work environment.

In a more focused study, Liden et.al. (2000) compared the concept of empowerment to the nature of work – job characteristics based upon leader-member exchange and team-member exchange. The leader-member exchange stressed the importance of the leader in the supervisor-employee relationship and the employee's work experiences; the quality of the leader-member exchange determined the employee's perception of empowerment. Team member exchange, described by Seers (1989), emphasized the importance of work group members on the individual employee when the other workers share resources and support, work-related expertise and feedback, and social support.

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