How Internal Marketing Can Cultivate Psychological Empowerment and Enhance Employee Performance

Article excerpt

With the advancement of science and technology, and the increase of global competition, empowerment is now deemed essential for the effectiveness of enterprises (Aryee & Chen, 2006; Ergeneli, Ari, & Metin, 2007). Researchers who have focused on empowerment have shifted their attention from its practical applications to explanation of the deep psychological mechanism. A number of researchers have explored the structural dimensions and the influencing factors of psychological empowerment (Hall, 2008; Liden, Wayne, & Sparrowe, 2000; Spence Laschinger, Finegan, Shamian, & Wilk, 2001). On the other hand, researchers have also investigated the effect of psychological empowerment on the attitudes and behavior of employees. For example, Sigler and Pearson (2000) showed that the productivity of individual employees was positively related to their psychological empowerment. Zhang and Bartol (2010) explored the relationship between the psychological empowerment and creativity of employees to identify the intrinsic motivation and mental processes of psychological empowerment.

Although researchers have explored the impact of psychological empowerment on psychological and behavioral variables, few of these studies are comprehensive.

The objectives in the current study were:

a) To explore the antecedence of psychological empowerment because of the inadequate awareness of it in prior research.

b) To provide an overall perspective of the impact of psychological empowerment on psychological and behavioral aspects, as well as exploring the underlying mechanism.

Specifically, we attempted to answer the following questions:

a) How does internal marketing influence the level of employees' psychological empowerment?

b) How does the level of psychological empowerment of employees affect their loyalty and task performance?

c) What is the intermediary factor in this process?

Theoretical Background and Hypotheses

According to Conger and Kanungo (1988) empowerment is an intrinsic construct meaning "enabling", rather than a simple empowerment of subordinates with power and resources. Thomas and Velthouse (1990) further proposed the construct of psychological empowerment, which consists of the following four dimensions that have been widely accepted by scholars: meaning, competence, self-determination and impact. Meaning refers to an individual's perception of the goals, objectives, and values of the work based on that person's own value systems and standards. Competence or self-efficacy refers to an individual's perception of his or her ability to complete the work. Self-determination refers to an individual's ability to control the work. Impact refers to the extent to which an individual can affect the results of an organization in which he or she is employed in terms of strategies, administration, management, and operations. The four dimensions of psychological empowerment reflect positive positioning of individuals about their work roles (Spreitzer, 2007). Employees who are empowered will not wait passively for instructions but, rather, will actively change and affect their work environment, leading to greater efficiency (Sigler & Pearson, 2000).

Internal Marketing and Psychological Empowerment

Berry (1995) suggested that employees can be treated as internal customers and internal suppliers and, thus, the purpose of internal marketing is to create a market atmosphere within the organization to ensure that the needs and desires of the internal customers are met. Internal marketing can be defined as working to attract, develop, motivate, and maintain high-quality staff by providing them with work products they need. The effort of an enterprise to provide internal marketing can positively affect the attitude of frontline employees toward their work and the organization, as well as raise employees' emotional investment in the organization, thereby increasing the employees' overall level of psychological empowerment (Keller, Lynch, Ellinger, Ozment, & Calantone, 2006). …