A research agenda for the study of empowerment in hospitality organisations

Hede, Anne-Marie (1999) A research agenda for the study of empowerment in hospitality organisations. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


Over the last decade, organisations such as ITT Sheraton, Novotel, Ritz-Carlton and Marriott, have used empowerment as a Human Resource strategy. Similarly, researchers have associated empowerment with a range of organisational outcomes. Sternberg (1992), for example, associated empowerment with customer satisfaction levels, employee efficiency, and employee morale, and Sparrowe (1994) hypothesised relationships between organisational culture, leader-member exchange, satisfaction with pay and promotion opportunities, and employee turnover intentions. Despite its popularity, the term 'empowerment' is generally surrounded by debate and confusion. In some instances it is even held in contempt, when its espoused values are incongruent with the reality of what it does offer the organisation and the individual. This thesis seeks to develop a research agenda for hospitality, based on a tenable conceptual framework of empowerment to alleviate the confusion, promote consistency between research projects and improve the understanding of empowerment by hospitality managers working in industry. In order to develop the research agenda, a sample of empowerment literature was analysed to identify concepts associated with empowerment and researchers' interpretations of empowerment. The results of a systematic literature review included that empowerment was associated with a number of concepts, but frequently with decision making; power and control; employee motivation; commitment and responsibility; greater levels of trust and information sharing within the organisation; rewards; and self-efficacy. It was also found to be associated with organisational concepts such as organisational culture, total quality management, productivity and profitability. A generic, and validated, conceptual framework of empowerment was also identified, which was then used to develop the research agenda. The agenda focussed on validating a measurement instrument for empowerment, specifically for hospitality establishments; comparative research between sectors and divisions of the industry; and longitudinal research to identify the effects of empowerment programs in hospitality organisations. Limitations of this thesis include the selection of literature for review and the reliance a non-hospitality-based conceptualisation of empowerment, which is generic and applicable to the gamut of organisation types. Despite this, the research agenda provides clear direction for future researchers of empowerment in hospitality organisations. If undertaken, the research proposed will optimise the value of what is seemingly a commendable and appropriate management strategy for the hospitality industry.

Additional Information

Master of Business in Hospitality Management

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/18172
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1504 Services
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Hospitality Tourism and Marketing
Keywords Organisational effectiveness, Hospitality industry, Management, Employee empowerment, Delegation of authority, Decentralization
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