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"Empowerment" - The Deep Background

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  • "Empowerment" - The Deep Background


    Just stumbled over a reference in an article... "Kanter's theory of structural empowerment" ....
    Despite the "K" in the name, this is woman, a professor of sociology:

    For some reason her work seems to be especially relevant for nurses, but the appended overview of her theory contains many elements that reappear as buzzwords in feminist inspired work environmant (and education?). Imagine the points below rewritten as a program, and you have almost the enire transition from 2. to 3. wave faminism, minus the Lets Control Sexuality aspect.


    Overview of Kanter's Theory on Structural Empowerment
    Kanter’s theory of structural empowerment focuses on the structures within the organization rather than the individual's own qualities (Bradbury-Jones, Sambrook, & Irvine, 2007). Kanter believes that a leader’s power will grow by sharing the power through empowering others and as a result, leaders will realize increased organizational performance (Fox, 1998). Furthermore, Kanter posits that with tools, information, and support, people’s skill base will improve, they will increasingly make informed decisions and overall accomplish more, thereby benefiting the organization as a whole (Fox, 1998).

    According to Kanter, two systemic sources of power exist in organizations, these being formal and informal power. Formal power is that which accompanies high visibility jobs and requires a primary focus on independent decision making. Informal power comes from building relationships and alliances with peers and colleagues (Wagner et al., 2010).

    The six conditions required for empowerment to take place according to Kanter include:

    1. Opportunity for advancement

    2. Access to information

    3. Access to support

    4. Access to resources

    5. Formal Power

    6. Informal Power

    These six conditions are what many organizational behaviorists have based their work and studies on. The basis of structural empowerment and psychological empowerment is derived from Kanters work in the 1970’s. They are identified as distinct sources of organizational power (Wagner et al., 2010).

    By providing these conditions to employees, it has been found that there is increased job satisfaction, commitment, trust and a marked decrease in job burnout. Kantor’s theory has proven to have measurable impact on both employee empowerment and job satisfaction as well as organizational morale and success, especially in healthcare settings (Wagner et al., 2010). It has also been noted that retention rates of healthcare professionals improve when empowerment principles such as decreased work pressure, greater peer cohesion, support from supervisors, and staff autonomy are put in place (Krebs, Madigan, & Tullai-McGuinness, 2008).

    /.../ Kanter’s theory still resonates as one of the most basic frameworks to guide practice in order to improve organizational efficacy. /.../