Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Using Employee Empowerment to Encourage Organizational Commitment in the Public Sector

Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Using Employee Empowerment to Encourage Organizational Commitment in the Public Sector

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Changes in Polish public organizations require paying special attention to these instruments of Human Resource Management which can help employees to face emerging new challenges, and to stimulate their initiative and commitment. Simultaneously, a growing interest in using achievements of Positive Organizational Scholarship - POS) can be observed in Human Resource Management. POS is based on achievements of positive psychology which emphasizes positive aspects of functioning of an individual in the organization. Although in the last decade negative aspects of organizational impact on employees have mostly been stressed, today more frequently researchers emphasize the necessity to focus on positive experiences of employees, their conditions and results. According to POS, positive emotions and experiences of employees are underestimated both in theory and practice of HRM. The important domains of POS also encompass such issues as organizational commitment and employee empowerment. It should also be emphasized that there is still little empirical research on this subject, particularly in the public sector. This paper tries to answer the questions about the level of employee empowerment and organizational commitment and whether employee empowerment is related to organizational commitment. This goal will be reached by presenting the results of literature study and empirical research concerning employee empowerment and organizational commitment carried out in the public sector.

2. Organizational commitment of employees in the public sector

Becker was a precursor of research into organizational commitment (Becker, 1960: 32-42). His works were continued by Mowday, Steers and Porter, but in contrast to Becker, they emphasized the importance of an emotional element in organizational commitment, defining it as the power of an employee's ties and his identification with the organization (Mowday et al., 1979: 226). Also in Polish literature on the subject, the issue of organizational commitment arouses great interest of researchers. Juchnowicz defines organizational commitment as an employee's identification with an organization, its aims and values, desire to belong to the organization and their readiness to spare no effort for the organization (Junchnowicz, 2010: 58). Today Meyer and Allen's model is generally accepted in empirical research. It encompasses three dimensions, i.e. (Meyer and Allen, 1990: 2-3):

* Affective commitment reflecting emotional attachment of the employee to the organization,

* Continuance commitment which concerns employee-perceived costs connected with leaving the organization,

* Normative commitment which is based on the feeling of obligation to stay in the organization, i.e. the employee's loyalty towards the organization.

This model has been successfully used in a lot of empirical research, which proved that organizational commitment provides numerous benefits to employees and the organization, e.g. it positively influences employee performance, their work satisfaction and career success (Sager and Johnston, 1989: 34-35; Riketta, 2002: 261-263). Organizational commitment of employees depends on various organizational factors. The results of empirical research suggest that such characteristic features of public organizations as extended hierarchical structures, bureaucratic culture and centralized process of decision making can negatively affect organizational commitment of employees (Rowlinson, 2001: 670). Job characteristics are also important conditions of organizational commitment, e.g. autonomy, task identity, required skills variety, etc. Research conducted among employees of public and private organizations in the USA showed that precisely defined but challenging tasks enhance employees' organizational commitment (Flynn and Tannenbaum, 1993: 110-111). This research also suggests that employees of public organizations expect smaller autonomy than employees in private organizations (Flynn and Tannenbaum, 1993: 113). …

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