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Employee empowerment, job satisfaction and organizational commitment
An in-depth empirical investigation
Sut I Wong Humborstad
Department of Leadership and Organizational Management, BI Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway, and
Gibaran Graduate School of Business, Adelaide, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to test the relationship between perceived empowerment practices and Chinese service employee service effort and turnover intention, also to examine the mediating role of employee job attitudes in this relationship. Design/methodology/approach – To test hypotheses about the relationships above, survey data were collected by a self-administered questionnaire from frontline service workers at six four- and ﬁve-star hotels in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China. The ﬁnal sample of 290 participants rated empowerment practices in their workplace, as well as their job attitudes, service effort and turnover intention. Perceived empowerment practices were measured using items from Hayes’ employee employment questionnaire. Employee job attitudes were measured using job satisfaction and organizational commitment scales based on Harrison et al. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the hypotheses. Findings – Statistically signiﬁcant results were obtained for a full mediating effect of job attitudes on the relationship between empowerment practices and turnover intention. However, the relationship between empowerment and Chinese employee service effort was insigniﬁcant. Research limitations/implications – This study is cross-sectional and so a longitudinal examination of the variables could be revealing. In addition, other moderating and/or mediating factors could exist such as demographic characteristics of service employees. Finally, most of the conceptual underpinnings for this study come from research carried out in Western countries and more work should be done within Chinese organisations and more qualitative research would be appropriate for theory-building research. Practical implications – Managers in service industries in China should carefully monitor employee job attitudes towards the empowerment practices. Owing to cultural differences on the high vs low power distance dimension in particular, managers from the West should not overlook how much empowerment is accepted among Chinese service employees. Originality/value – Contributing to attitude engagement theory, job attitudes consisting of job satisfaction and organizational commitment explain the success of empowerment implementation in Chinese service organisations. Keywords China, Employee behaviour, Customer service management, Empowerment, Job attitudes, Job satisfaction, Organizational commitment, Turnover intention, Service effort Paper type Research paper
Chinese Management Studies Vol. 5 No. 3, 2011 pp. 325-344 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1750-614X DOI 10.1108/17506141111163390
Introduction Empowerment involves giving employees the autonomy to make decisions about how they go about their daily activities (Carless, 2004; Haas, 2010). As service industries become more competitive, the importance of empowerment in service industries is increasingly recognized as a key to catering to more and more demanding customers (Boshoff and Allen, 2000). However, empowerment is contextual (Foster-Fishman et al., 1998). It is a social construct nested in how an individual integrates perceptions of personal control, a proactive approach to life and an understanding of the socio-political environment (Perkins, 1995; Rappaport, 1995; Zimmerman, 1995; Perkins and Zimmerman, 1995). Hence, empowerment can be viewed differently across cultures (Robert et al., 2000; Fock et al., 2002) and thus the success of empowerment as a managerial practice depends on an appropriate understanding of the culturally based assumptions, values and beliefs held by those who are being managed (Hofstede, 1993; Robert et al., 2000; Wang, 2008). In particular, incongruence between empowerment as a management practice and cultural values may be inﬂuential in high power distance nations where subordinates are accustomed to unquestioningly taking orders from their supervisors (Hui et al., 2004; Humborstad et al., 2008b). Results of the few empowerment studies conducted in high power distance cultural contexts have been inconsistent (Hui et al., 2004; Powpaka, 2008). For example, Robert et al. (2000) failed to obtain conclusive ﬁndings. In their study, the empowerment-job satisfaction relationship was revealed to be negative in the India sample, but this relationship was found otherwise in some other high power distance country samples. On the other hand, Hui et al. (2004) provided support for variation in empowerment effects on job satisfaction and the intention to comply with customer requests being a function of power distance, after controlling some extraneous variables. Also, empowerment’s effect on organizational commitment shows inconclusive results. Bhatnagar (2007) and Chen and Chen (2008) found that some of the sub-dimensions of empowerment were positively correlated to organizational commitment, but others were negatively or not correlated to organizational commitment in their India and Taiwan samples, respectively. It is important that this uncertainty be explored further because of the growing economic importance of China (a high power distance country, as noted above) and the number of Western managers entering China with possibly misplaced ideas about empowerment. Given the extant uncertainty about empowerment in high power distance cultures, this study aimed to more thoroughly investigate how perceived empowerment practices are linked with Chinese service employee job satisfaction and organizational commitment, to predict their service effort and turnover intention – these are important for service organisations because they reﬂect the quality of service performance (Zeithaml et al., 1990). Our contribution centres on the effects of the new variable of job attitudes on this service performance. The research setting for this study of service employees who interact with customers is the hotel/casino industry in the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. This setting is appropriate because Chinese culture is known to have a higher power distance orientation than some Western countries do (Hofstede, 1980; Correia, 1997). Indeed, appropriately for this research, Correia (1997) used Hofstede’s (1991) ﬁve-dimensional framework to conﬁrm the presence of high power distance culture
2000). 2004). 2004).. and the service industry as the “body”. Tourism industries contribute more than 50 per cent of the GDP and hotels cater for more than 22 million visitors to Macau (DSEC.. conventions and exhibitions as the “head”. even if empowerment can be used as a management tool to achieve better quality and performance (Bordin et al. Aycan et al. 2001) and on the employee’s perception of their individual power to cope with the events. Finally.. the setting provides a multi-organisation. 2000). empowerment practices could stimulate individual frontline service employees to deliver high-quality service as a discretionary effort (Malhotra and Mukherjee. It concerns a form of employee involvement initiative (Wilkinson. 2009). 2009). limitations and further research are presented. It encourages service personnel to use their own judgment to make prompt decisions (Lovelock. 2001) and so empowerment can be deﬁned as a discretionary construct that has management providing employees with discretion and autonomy over their tasks (Hsieh and Chao. it requires employee willingness to accept it (Liden et al. having employees willing to accept empowerment is one of the conditions for its successful implementation (Hui et al. 2002). Empowerment practices decentralize power by involving employees in decision making (Carless. 2000). Implications for management are explored.. It focuses on the relationships between team leaders and members (Lee and Koh. 2004). Then the methodology of path analysis and bootstrapping are described and the ﬁndings explained. However. 2001. That is. Spreitzer et al. Employee empowerment 327 ..at workplaces in the Macau setting. 2005). 2006. This cultural value of power distance might affect the personal value of power sharing – employees may not accept and exercise any discretionary power granted by management (Aryee and Chen.. 1992. 1991). 2008b). homogeneous culture site to investigate an important. 1999b) and has become widespread (Bartunek and Spreitzer. 1993. so that organizational dynamics are initiated at the bottom (Michailova. Gumusluoglu and Ilsev. A clear policy direction of the Macau Government has set tourism. This aspect of empowerment is concerned with the behaviour of a supervisor (Lee and Koh. Humborstad et al. 2006. 1998) and refers to the degree with which employees are encouraged to make certain decisions without consulting their supervisors. This setting is also an important one. 2006). 2009. Chow et al. 2003). High power distance cultural context Members of organisations within a high power distance culture accept that power is distributed unequally (Hofstede.. gaming. Empowerment implies that people at the lower levels of organisations sometimes know best – the leaders’ role should be to act as coach and/or mentor and important decisions can be made at all levels of organisations (Robert et al. Thus. They are accustomed to hierarchal structures and paternalistic leadership so they often hesitate to take the initiative or make decisions without consulting supervisors (Chen and Fahr. high power distance phenomenon where all subjects are boundary spanners between customers and the organisation.. In brief. Spreitzer et al. situations and people they encounter at work (Carless. In the rest of the paper. a literature review develops two hypotheses. Hancer and George.. industrial democracy. 1997). participative management and job enrichment (Eccles. 2004). 1999. driving the rest of the economy (DSEC. Empowerment The notion of empowerment derived from alienation.
2008).. the recently uncovered. 2006). as shown in Figure 1. we developed a model of the mechanisms of their empowerment that includes the variable of job attitudes. On the other hand. Could that variable better explain how empowerment could work in China and other high power distance cultures? The next section justiﬁes our consideration of that job attitudes variable. 1999. the inconsistent ﬁndings in the East seem not to ﬁt in. Moreover. Job satisfaction Organisational commitment Service effort H1 Empowerment H2 Turnover intention Source: Developed for this study Jop attitude Figure 1. Proposed structural model . Littrell.. higher order variable of workers’ job attitudes could have an important bearing on their behaviour under empowerment (Harrison et al. perceptions of empowerment could differ among Chinese workers due to recent industrial modernization (Li.CMS 5. Perhaps. 2000. Hui et al. while research in the West has consistently shown positive effects of empowerment on outcomes such as job satisfaction. In brief.3 328 Although some studies have investigated the effect of empowerment on job satisfaction and performance in such a high power distance cultural context (Eylon and Au. 1999). 2004. For instance. Empowerment. 2006) combines job satisfaction with affective organizational commitment and is linked to service effort and turnover intention within a structural model of empowerment. Some might accept empowerment as a way to motivate and utilize human resources. Each concept in that model is discussed next to develop hypotheses. 2008).. the empirical evidence about differences between empowerment effectiveness in high power distance countries and low power distance countries is inconclusive (Powpaka. Hui et al. That job attitudes variable (Harrison et al. but the effects of empowerment were weaker in their Chinese frontline hotel workers sample. Robert et al. 2007). but others might ﬁnd empowerment too difﬁcult to work with because of their traditional norms of high power distance between management and employees. (2000) found a signiﬁcant negative empowerment – job satisfaction relationship in an Indian sample. Robert et al. job attitudes and service effort To capture Chinese employee attitudes towards empowerment. turnover intention and creativity to drive better performance (Spreitzer. (2004) revealed positive results in both high and low power distance contexts. while positive results were found in Mexican and Polish samples (these two countries are high on the power distance dimension and all three samples were conducted across industries)..
1990. that is.. That is. affective organizational commitment is viewed as the relative strength of an individual’s emotional attachments to. with rules and procedures reduced (Hirst et al. However. effort is an important element in motivation theory (Mohr and Bitner. Pang et al. The effort of service employees to deliver quality service plays a signiﬁcant role in the organisation’s attempts to satisfy customer expectations (Gronroos. Of course. job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment were found to contribute to second-order structured job attitudes and suggested that these two constructs should be combined to evaluate a more general concept of job attitudes.. 2000) – to facilitate empowerment. 1994. 1995). In more detail. service effort is what managers were aiming to achieve with their direct empowerment actions and is a reasonable proxy for actual service performance. resources or equipment. 2002. or mood – about a person. Next. 1980). job satisfaction is a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experience (Locke. identiﬁcation with and involvement in a particular organisation (Mowday et al. event or object (Warr and Wall. However. In turn. job attitude is measured here as a second-order construct consisting of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. the relationship would usually be positive and the use of effort in this research is justiﬁed because we are interested in workers’ rather than managers’ views. Riketta. Job attitudes are a combination of job satisfaction and organizational commitment and job satisfaction and organizational commitment are two of the most often studied variables in organizational behaviour research (Mathieu and Zajac. 2004). (2006). Harrison et al.. is present when ﬁrst-order factors like job satisfaction and organizational commitment are explained by some higher order factor structure (Schumacker and Lomax. Robert et al. like job attitudes in our model. It is an affective or emotional response toward various facets of one’s job.. 1998).. consider job attitudes. effort could be considered more relevant than harder-to-measure performance. (A second-order factor. Petty et al. As noted above. idea. consider the crucial factor of service effort. The concept of attitude is usually presented as having an affective component – a feeling. for example. 2008a).. (2006) argue that a combination of these two constructs captures an employee’s general attitudes towards their job and is important for understanding work behaviour.First. Indeed. they might conceivably put in a lot of effort but still not perform at a high level. 1990). Naylor et al. When service employees are unwilling or unable to deliver service at the required level. organisations could actually shorten the distance between leaders and members. 2004.) Based on this meta-analysis results of 112 management studies. empowerment could bring conﬂicting values to an organisation’s high power distance tradition (Hui et al.. 1990. 2000. 1990. 1984). In turn. 2008). effort does not necessarily automatically translate into performance. This study about work behaviours adopted their recent framework.. Humborstad et al.. In brief. It mediates the relationship between motivation and performance and forms a mechanism by which motivation is translated into accomplished work (Brown and Peterson. These empowerment practices might conﬂict with traditions where hierarchy and managerial rules are respected.. some studies revealed Employee empowerment 329 . service quality suffers (Zeithaml et al. 2004).. Thus. some studies demonstrated strong resistance to empowerment in the high power cultural context (Robert et al. In the meta-analysis of Harrison et al. 1975). if a worker has insufﬁcient training. 1976). 1982).. actual employee service performance is likely to reﬂect the amount of employee effort expended in service encounter situations (Yoon et al. preference. Zeithaml et al.
empowerment may produce positive job attitudes among Chinese service employees and may in turn lead to higher service effort. That is. Consequently. 1993). Thus. In particular.. extant evidence about whether empowerment produces positive job satisfaction and organizational commitment in high power distance workplaces. 1982. Thus. 1999). Aryee and Chen (2006) provided empirical evidence that empowerment leads to higher job satisfaction and performance in a Chinese sample of manufacturing workers. they argued that this effect is more pronounced in a low power distance cultural context. and ultimately. Employee turnover intentions.. 2004). Empowerment and turnover intention In addition. It can be described as a psychological response to speciﬁc organizational conditions which fall along a continuum of organizational withdrawal behaviours ranging from daydreaming to the physical act of turnover (Kraut. 2008). On the other hand. Moreover. the training required for new employees.. China has been experiencing the rapid industrialization of modern societies in the past two decades and the values implicit in modern institutions may have been to some extent incorporated into the personal values of some Chinese service workers (Powpaka. Mowday et al. 2009). 1982). 1973). lowered service quality and customer satisfaction ( Joiner et al. For example. there has been a rapid development in the hotel industry in Macau since the gaming license has been liberated in 2000. . tourist numbers are increasing at a faster rate then the local population. Retaining qualiﬁed frontline employees has been a great challenge in the Macau gaming industry (it is the largest gaming centre in the world). 2008.. However. is inconclusive. loss of established connections with customers. a moderator C sets conditions on the relationship between variables A and B. That is.CMS 5. the potential cost of staff turnover in service industries is recognized to be high. retaining qualiﬁed service employees is one of the main HR issues for many hotels in Macau and explains why so many managers were willing to be involved in this study. In brief. 2004. 2006. absenteeism and actual turnover have received substantial theoretical and empirical consideration (Chiu et al. Hui et al. Eylon and Au. Turnover intention is a conscious and deliberate wilfulness to leave an organisation (Tett and Meyer. and includes knowledge lost within the organisation. (2004) also supported the effect of empowerment on job satisfaction. career development in tourism industry is more important than in other industries.) We hypothesize that: H1.3 330 otherwise (Aryee and Chen. it is interesting to look at if or how the hitherto unexplored effect of job attitudes mediates the mechanism of the empowerment-organizational outcomes relationships and this mediation may be particularly apt in the Chinese context of this research. Zhang et al. Hui et al. empowerment may affect turnover intention.. 1975). Porter and Steers. through job attitudes. Eylon and Au (1999) found both low and high power distance groups experienced increased job satisfaction led by empowerment and no signiﬁcant differences between the two groups were found. (In contrast. This dysfunctional behaviour negatively impacts organizational performance (Mobley. we hypothesize that job attitude is a mediator – it clariﬁes the nature of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables (MacKinnon. 2005. Job attitudes positively mediate the positive relationship between empowerment and service effort in Chinese service organisations.
Macau is a suitable setting to investigate the high power distance of China.. 26 were incomplete. The Western country of Portugal was a light colonial power in Macau until the handover in 1999. 1997. Method Sample and procedure To test the hypotheses developed above. turnover intention is considered to have an immediate causal effect on turnover and is believed to be the best predictor of actual turnover by many researchers (Lee and Bruvold. even though it was the West’s ﬁrst colony in China. Siu. 1995. Respondents were asked to complete the questionnaire and to insert the completed script into the attached envelope and to seal it before return.2 per cent response rate is considerably high. The focus of this research is high power distance and so indirect empowerment inﬂuencers like job characteristics and types of leadership were appropriately held constant – all the hotels had similar processes and were of a similar size and standard. Other hotels that were owned by Western corporations or had sizable non-Chinese staffs were not considered in this study.. with the second group reﬂecting non-responders more than the ﬁrst group. 2009).2 per cent. energy and talents as a way to demonstrate their reciprocity and to maintain a close tie to their organisation and are less likely to leave their organisations (Boshoff and Mels. should empowerment lead to positive job attitudes. To achieve this response rate (Kinnear and Taylor. Hence. Out of the 445 questionnaires distributed by managers and supervisors to all the frontline service employees at the hotels (the total number of service employees hired at the six selected hotels). 2001). Thus. Although a 65. Therefore. Macau has been a SAR of China with its own Macau Government and Portuguese constitute a mere 2 per cent (and declining) of the population (DSEC. giving a satisfactory response rate of 65. two groups of data (one consisted of the ﬁrst 100 respondents to reply and the second one consisted of the last 100 respondents to reply) were extracted from the original data set. it would in turn decrease employee turnover intention. Kiyak et al. 2001. 316 respondents replied. 2002). Hom and Griffeth. 1991). Of their responses. t-tests were carried out to compare the mean responses of all items between the two groups to assess whether there would be any Employee empowerment 331 . all questionnaires were distributed with sealable envelopes attached. we hypothesize: H2. Job attitudes positively mediate the negative relationship between empowerment and turnover intention in Chinese service organisations. The six hotels were chosen because they had a long business history in Macau with Chinese owners and management. deciding to leave one’s job is not normally impulsive but is a decision that one has been contemplating/intending for some time prior to taking action (Barak et al. Following the standard Armstrong and Overton (1977) procedure. Since the handover.. satisﬁed and committed employees are likely to dedicate more of their time. 1991). a non-response bias test was performed by using t-test to ensure the data were appropriate. 2003. 1991).and ﬁve-star hotels in the Macau SAR of China during the ﬁrst quarter of 2006. Barak et al. Thus.Furthermore. It was also stated that the sealed envelope would be opened only by the researchers to ensure conﬁdentiality and anonymity. Presumably. this study collected data by a self-administered questionnaire within similar hotels in one industry – from six four. but this does not mean power distance in Macau is necessarily lower than Mainland China’s because Portugal itself has a somewhat high power distance score (Hofstede. the ﬁnal sample consisted of 290 participants.
Reliability measures above 0. All these items were originally written in English. we consider that there is no problematic issue with potential non-response bias.3 332 signiﬁcantly different pattern between the two groups. Job attitudes. where tourism products are more underdeveloped.70.85.CMS 5. They were one item from the job satisfaction scale (higher with the ﬁrst group) and one item about education attainment (lower with the ﬁrst group). 5 – strongly agree) from an affective organizational commitment scale developed by Meyer and Allen (1991). thus ensuring that they had been previously tested and proven to be reliable. the sample was reasonably representative of Macau service workers – the sample was evenly distributed in both genders (male – 48 per cent/female – 52 per cent) and in marital status (single – 50 per cent/married – 50 per cent). Most respondents were suitably from 21 to 30 years old (48 per cent). while 23 per cent were 31-40 years old. the questionnaire was pre-tested with a pilot sample of 15 individuals in Macau to ensure that all directions and items were clearly understood. nearly all measures were adopted from past studies reported in the literature (discussed below). In turn.70 are deemed to be acceptable for research purposes (Nunnally. To ensure the internal consistency of the items measured. To measure job satisfaction. Some modiﬁcation was made after the review. 2006). Two major actions were taken in this study to ensure the reliability of the questionnaire. 5 – strongly agree) employee empowerment scales were used to measure the respondents’ perception of empowerment at work. 5 – strongly agree) were used (e. 1978). working in these industries was attractive – career development in tourism industries would be relatively more fruitful than in other industries. Out of all 26 items including demographic questions. This was a second-order latent variable consisting of job satisfaction and organizational commitment (Harrison et al. Most of these measured have also been used in other studies with Eastern samples and have shown good reliability. and 20 per cent were 41-50 and those who have a high school education (45 per cent) dominated the sample. Hayes’ (1994) ﬁve items (1 – strongly disagree. Second. A sample item is “I have the authority to correct customer problems when they occur”. A sample item is “I feel a strong sense . The data and feedback collected from the pilot test were reviewed. each question was back translated from Chinese to English by a second translator and compared with the original text. Measures Empowerment. Therefore. Hackman and Oldham’s (1975) three items (1 – strongly disagree. we found only two questions with statistically signiﬁcant differences between the mean responses of these two groups. And the alpha coefﬁcient for the four items (one item from the original scale was omitted to achieve a satisfactory alpha coefﬁcient) was 0. The Appendix presents all the items in the measures. Therefore. The original English measurement items are attached as the Appendix. we assessed organizational commitment using the four items (1 – strongly disagree. First.. I am satisﬁed with my job currently). The alpha coefﬁcient of the three items was 0. the perception of frontline service jobs might not necessarily be the same as in other countries. reliability tests were performed by examining Cronbach’s alpha values. All constructs in the questionnaire used established measures.g. From the proﬁles of the 290 respondents. and for this study questionnaires were needed in Chinese. The measures were specialized for customer contact personnel. With the rapid growth of the tourism industries in Macau. To ensure the reliability of the translation. and minor modiﬁcations on the translation were done.
A sample item is “For me. Empowerment 2.01 levels (two-tailed).47 * * 1. The alpha coefﬁcient was an acceptable 0.84 * * 2 0. Turnover intention SD 0.79 * * 2 0.85 0.12 0. To evaluate the hypothesized model. The respondents’ turnover intention was measured using a four-item scale (1 – strongly disagree. Some of the items were reverse coded. The ﬁve-year time horizon in one item was approved by the managers involved. Job satisfaction 2b.93 2.00 0. Job attitudes 2a.79 20.00 0. First.of belonging to the organisation”.31 * * 1. a perception measurement was used by asking respondents a single question about their willingness to invest effort to deliver quality service at their work. (1982). However.34 * * NA 1. reliabilities and intercorrelations of latent variables . 2005). For service effort as the dependent variable.64 0. which were developed in the West..29 * * 20.91 NA 1. Podsakoff et al. Analysis of the data There were missing values in the data collected. To conclude. 2008). we followed the two-stage procedure recommended by Anderson and Gerbing (1988). since all measures were obtained from the common source.84 1. this research used structural equation modelling (Baron and Kenny. a control of common method variance was carried out to compare the results with and without potential bias of the common method variance (Mackenzie et al.08 M 2.05 and * *0. Hence. Analytical procedures Because the proposed meditational model involves latent constructs.00 NA 0. Preacher and Hayes. Turnover intention.85 I 1 2 2a 2b 3 Employee empowerment 333 0. 1999. Organizational commitment 3. means. some of the Cronbach’s alpha values among the scales adopted were only acceptable. the results indicate that the missing data Variables 1.87 * * 1.00 0.3 per cent.33 1. all variables forming the model appeared to have less than 10 per cent of the respondent missing data – the range was from 1.49 * * 0.00 0.09 2.14 NA 0. A multi-item source was not available and single-item measures can sometimes have advantages over multi-item measures because multi-domain measures can confound the dimensionality of the concept with the multiplicity of their causal sources (Bowling. a bootstrapping procedure was performed (Shrout and Bolger.79. Judd and Kenny. The alpha coefﬁcient was 0. conﬁrmatory factor analysis (CFA) was examined to assess the adequacy of the measurement component of the model. Then the structural model was evaluated. 1981) of the AMOS 16 software. Moreover. The results of relatively low alpha coefﬁcients could be due to the fact that all scales were adopted from past studies.60 * * Notes: Correlation is signiﬁcant at the *0. Service effort 4. 1986.70 1.51 * * 0.69.00 NA 0.57 NA 3. 2002. this company is the best of all possible organisations to work for”. This confounding from a multi-item variable may have been particularly serious in this study because of the complex links between effort and performance discussed above. 2003). 5 – strongly agree) developed by Seashore et al.14 3. as depicted in Table I.2 to 4.. Service effort. Standard deviations. n ¼ 290 Source: Analysis of the survey data Table I.79 * * 20. To examine the signiﬁcance of the indirect effects.
CFI. 0. 1986).93. 1988.87 (less than 3. there were no direct paths from empowerment to service effort and turnover intention. a x 2 difference test was performed.80 (df ¼ 96.05 and 0.05..05. as depicted in Table II. However. The RMSEA and SRMR were 0. As shown in Table I. we examined the fully mediated model. A structural regression model allows a latent variable to have single or multiple indicators for each measurement model (Schumacker and Lomax. 0.80 criterion. to compare these two models. p . Hence. a mediated model with additional direct paths from empowerment to service effort and turnover was evaluated. Hence. 0. 0.CMS 5. First. the posited structural models were evaluated.. First. Kline. The Dx2 between the fully and partially mediated models was 1. RMSEA.05 (less than 0. In addition. that is. the root mean square of error of approximation (RMSEA) and standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) were both 0. Hair et al. As noted. x 2 is sensitive to sample size (Kline. H1 was not supported. 2004). After assessing the validity of the constructs adopted. df ¼ 98.95. 1998. including empowerment.08. CFA was used because it has advantages over exploratory approaches in validating theoretically developed constructs (Vandenbosch. That is. Structural model. the normed x 2 (x2/df) was also assessed and was 1.95.93. 1996). Anderson and Gerbing. 2006).96 and 0. 0.89. Thus. SRMR and TLI values were 0. So. it suggests that the fully mediated model is an accurate representation. hence. p ¼ 0. Although the x 2 value was 166. 2005). the correlation between empowerment and service effort was not signiﬁcant. comparative ﬁt index (CFI) and Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) were 0.0) suggesting a good model ﬁt between the implied model and the sample data. and the goodness-of-ﬁt index (GFI). results suggest that the two models had similar ﬁt to the data.84) (Hair et al. To examine their construct validity.99. Hypotheses testing. Hence. service effort and turnover intention. The results of model ﬁt demonstrated that the x 2 was signiﬁcant (x2 ¼ 182. H1 was evaluated. the results support the view that job satisfaction and organizational commitment are explained by a second-order structured latent variable of job attitudes.05.90. Measurement model. Also. The GFI. lower than 0. .00). it did not fulﬁl the basic requirements for mediation for further analysis (Baron and Kenny. Same model ﬁt indices of the measurement models were used to examine the proposed models. 1999). Single imputation with mean substitution and regression-based imputation were used to handle them (Kline. the TLI was 0.94 greater than the 0. Schumacker and Lomax.08).94. job attitudes as the second-order variable consisting of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. respectively. all latent variables were measured using item-level data except service effort.19 and the Ddf was 2 resulting in a value of 0. 2005.595 (less than 3.93 and 0. respectively. Next. the normed x 2 was 1. so the indicators are reasonable measures of empowerment and provide evidence of convergent validity.3 334 in this research do not pose problems in treatment (Malhotra and Mukherjee. The x 2 value was 181. 2004).95. This result indicates the difference of adding two extra direct paths in the partially mediated model was not signiﬁcant. 1998. which were approximately same as the x 2 results of the full mediated model. All indices met the criterion and support the modiﬁed model having a reasonable model ﬁt. Now the hypotheses could be tested. greater than 0.001) and the normed x 2 was 1. The GFI and CFI were 0.26 with p-value greater than 0.75 indicating that there was no signiﬁcant difference between the model and the sample data. The results of the measurement model indicate appropriate validity with satisfactory model ﬁt. respectively.
the indirect and direct paths between empowerment and service effort remained as posited in the conceptual model discussed earlier.05 0. empowerment does not directly lead to turnover intention when the mediator of job attitudes is controlled. to assess the statistical signiﬁcance of the mediating effect.00 1.25 0.89 0. 0. n ¼ 290 Source: Analysis of the survey data .08 .01. except the direct path of empowerment – turnover intention had a p-value greater than 0.01. There were two indirect effects of this model. Standardized parameter estimates for both direct and indirect effects Description Direct effects Empowerment – job attitudes Empowerment – service effort Empowerment – turnover intention Job attitudes – service effort Job attitudes – turnover intention Indirect effects (bootstrap results) Empowerment – job attitudes – service effort Empowerment – job attitudes – turnover intention Notes: *p .29 and p-value less than 0.28 * * Controlling for common method variance 0. 0. 0. Hence.08 .05 0.21 0.20 * * 0. 0.75 0. Next.95 0. 0. 1. a bootstrap procedure was conducted. 3. That is.27 * Table III.94 Partially mediated model 181. that is. indicating a potential full mediating effect.93 0.073 0.00 1. The path estimates of the model revealed that all paths were signiﬁcant with p-values lower than 0.0 . 0.93 0.89 * * 0.80 335 Table II. as depicted in Table III. the correlation between empowerment and turnover intention was signiﬁcant with correlation coefﬁcient of 2 0. Following the recommendations of Shrout and Bolger (2002). For H2. the mediator of job attitudes was introduced in the relationship between empowerment and turnover intention. we ﬁrst created Not controlling for common method variance 0.002 0.62 * * 2 0.51 * 20.05 0.05 0.63 * * 20.99 98 0. 0. and empowerment-job attitudes-turnover intention. empowerment-job attitudes-service effort.05 0.01. Model ﬁt indices of the measurement and the structural models Note: n ¼ 290 Source: Analysis of the survey data Nevertheless.05 . 0.05.Model ﬁt indices Acceptable level Measurement model 166.00 1.87 0.90 . the ﬁrst basic condition for H2 was fulﬁlled.05. that is.0 .80 96 0.26 95 0.95 Fully mediated model 182.24 * 0. the direct path between empowerment and turnover intention was not signiﬁcant when job attitudes as a mediator was controlled. Next.32 * * 2 0.93 * * 0.90 .96 0.93 0.05 0. * *p .94 Employee empowerment x2 Degrees of freedom (df) p (x 2) Normed x 2 (CMIN/DF) RMSEA SRMR CFI GFI TLI .95 0.
While empowerment in the West is widely suggested to stimulate untapped human resources (Spreitzer et al. then we ran the structural model with these bootstrap samples.001 level. some of the method factor loadings were constrained to be equal for identiﬁcation purposes. H2 was supported.. H1 (empowerment-job attitudes-service effort) was not supported.32 and a p-value of 0. empowerment could indirectly affect Chinese workers’ service effort through its effect on job attitudes and job attitudes’ effect on effort. As zero is not in the CI. That is. we added a ﬁrst-order latent variable to the indicators of both exogenous and endogenous variables. H2 was supported in this study. However.89 and p-value . Assessing the potential bias from common method variance Because both exogenous and endogenous variables were measured using the same source.001. revealed that the previously supported signiﬁcant relationships were not affected by common method variance. 1998). Moreover. empowerment-job attitudes was signiﬁcant – this ﬁnding indicates that empowerment should lead to higher job attitudes.13 to 0. common method variance is not a potential threat in this study. we found that. In turn. Discussion and implications Literature on empowerment in Chinese organizational settings is not settled. the results revealed that the mean of the indirect effect of empowerment-job attitudes-turnover intention (H2) was signiﬁcantly from zero at the 0. However. Spreitzer. as shown in Table III. 1999). Managers use empowerment to allow workers to solve problems themselves . The results reveal that empowerment was not directly correlated to service effort among Chinese service employees. The 95 per cent conﬁdence interval (CI) for the indirect effect ranged from 0. the relationships between variables in this study may have inﬂated due to common method variance (Spector.3 336 10. 2008). While the direct effect from empowerment to job attitudes was signiﬁcant with a standardized coefﬁcient of 0. 2006.001) were also signiﬁcant. its use in high power distance Chinese organisations needs evidence like this research.CMS 5.. 2003). The results from the bootstrap samples indicated that the standardized point estimate of the indirect effect (empowerment-job attitudes-turnover intention) was 0. 0. perceived empowerment practices do not stimulate or motivate stronger service effort among Chinese service employees (H1).46. 1999a. This procedure controlled for the portion of variance in the indicators measured from the common source (Mackenzie et al.. the direct effects from job attitudes to turnover intention (standardized coefﬁcient ¼ 0. Podsakoff et al.28 with the standard error of 0.08. Standardized coefﬁcients and errors were calculated for the two indirect effects. Discussion of this ﬁnding and its implications are provided next. in turn.000 bootstrap samples from the original dataset (n ¼ 290). Thus. we found the mediating effect of job attitudes is a mechanism that helps empowerment lead to lower turnover intention among Chinese service employees (H2). on their own. 2000) and so Western management concepts such as empowerment may not be useful among Chinese employees (Pang et al. The structural model of the proposed model is shown in Figure 2 with all the path coefﬁcients. The results. Some have argued that empowerment may be less effective in high power distance cultures (Robert et al.. To assess this potential bias. Moreover. To conclude..
She has short brieﬁng sessions with employees on a regular basis. Supported model with standardized parameter estimates (the Appendix) but they must also include actions that foster job satisfaction and organizational commitment.01.073 n.s. **p < 0.62** Employee empowerment –0. With emphases on satisfaction and commitment like these. Job attitude –0. the usual steps of empowerment would become more effective for reducing turnover intention. First. n. The human resource manager of a ﬁve-star hotel in Macau SAR.s. That is. Giving staff a sense of belonging to the organisation (by shared values or rituals) would make them feel emotionally attached and “part of the family”. = non-significant Source: Developed for this study Figure 2. Finally. All ideas and issues would be listened to and discussed. satisfaction involves the work environment.89** Turnover intention Notes: *p < 0. China. 337 Empowerment 0. 2003). A longitudinal examination of the variables . Also. Chinese employees tend to have more favourable work attitudes and behaviour if they perceive favourable social relationships in their workplace (Wong and Huang. Supervisors should learn to encourage different ideas and opinions so that Chinese employees could feel committed – their voices are listened to and their contributions impact on their company’s performance (Tian-Foreman. management in China should foster positive job attitudes through processes such as better and wider communication of the purpose of empowerment and stronger organizational and supervisor support. employees would feel helpless and distanced from their immediate supervisors/managers without these sessions. 1999). to discuss outstanding issues. Although not all issues could be solved at once.05. gaining or protecting “face” in social settings – it is considered the protocol of a highly hierarchical relationship between superior and subordinate (Li. to ensure that empowerment would affect turnover intention among Chinese service employees. consider limitations of the research and implications for future studies.062 n. 2009).32** 0.s. the present study is cross-sectional. They could begin by looking at the items in the questionnaire (the Appendix) about satisfaction and commitment – they are the core elements within the core variable of job attitudes. For example. and commitment involves emotional commitment to the “family” of the organisation.Job satisfaction Organisational commitment Service effort 0. In brief. the Chinese are sensitive to giving. taking. illustrates a technique that managers could use these job attitudes/satisfaction and commitment implications of the research ﬁndings.
Applied Psychology: An International Review (Psychologie Appliquee – Revue Internationale). 1991). Z. However. Social Service Review. S. Thus. J. (These demographics were not included in this analysis because there are no a priori reasons to suspect they affect high power distance. Kanungo. there may be other potential moderating and/or mediating factors in addition to the important ones uncovered and investigated in this study such as demographic characteristics of service employees. Indeed.) As well. K. Yu. J. Vol.3 338 as they occur and as managerial interventions are made to improve desirable organizational outcomes could be revealing. Moreover. “Impact of culture on human resource management practices: a 10-country comparison”. to conﬁrm the generalizability of the supported models in this research. 396-402.W. and d Gerbing. 411-23. Stahl. Furthermore. 793-801. This ﬁnding will help managers in China to effectively adopt empowerment policies and be an empirical base for future researchers. this work could be replicated in other cultural contexts than China such as Africa and the Middle East.. such research could examine the impact of changes in the variables. Nissly. 103. T.E. Vol. and other human service employees: what can we learn from past research? A review and metanalysis”. Barak.. . this research found how Chinese employees accept empowering management practices to demonstrate stronger job satisfaction and organizational commitment.C.A. 625-61. Mendonca. Deller..CMS 5. However. Vol. G. Vol.N. M. As well. “Leader-member exchange in a Chinese context: antecedents. 75. and so help empowerment to lead to lower turnover intention. pp. and Levin. References Anderson. considering that human cultural contexts and behaviour vary from country to country. and Kurshid. A. 1977) such as fast-food outlets. (2006). 49.S.M. Next. (2000). J. Journal of Marketing Research. more work should be done within Chinese organisations to conﬁrm the transferability of the ideas examined in this research. pp. Armstrong. could be investigated. (1988). R. future research needs to be centred in China to generate more relevant constructs and their measurement. it could even be replicated in European countries with high power distance like France and Germany (Hofstede. (1977). 192-221.. the relationship between empowerment and service effort was found insigniﬁcant. A. possible relationships between service effort and actual performance should be examined to provide an even more comprehensive model. social work. In addition.C. “Structural equation modeling in practice – a review and recommended two-step approach”. Vol. Aryee. airlines and consulting institutions. (2001). This sort of research could also be tried in less-modern parts of China like Lanzhou city. Aycan. Z.. M. and Overton.X. Journal of Business Research. the mediating role of psychological empowerment and outcomes”. and Chen. pp. most of the conceptual underpinnings for this study come from research carried out in Western countries. pp. pp.. More qualitative research would be appropriate for this kind of theory-building research. In conclusion. other service organisations with a different level of tangibility (Shostack. D. Psychological Bulletin. “Antecedents to retention and turnover among child welfare. J. 14. 59.S. “Estimating nonreponse bias in mail surveys”.
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(4) You seldom hear about or are exposed to jobs outside your company that interest you.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.M. (3) I do not have to get management’s approval before I handle customer problems. Exchange and Power in Social Life. (2) The organisation has a great deal of personal meaning for me. pp. (2) For you. (3) You will not give up this company easily. (3) You are extremely glad that you chose this company to work for. 1982): (1) You are very likely to stay in this company for the next ﬁve years. (4) I am allowed to do almost anything to solve customer problems. P.humborstad@bi.CMS 5. (3) I do not feel “emotionally attached” to the organisation. 1975): (1) You are satisﬁed with your job currently. Note that respondents actually completed a questionnaire in Chinese. The English measurement items The English version of the measurement items used follows. 581-99.w. (1964).emeraldinsight. Service effort: (1) I am willing to invest effort to deliver quality service to customers. (4) I feel a strong sense of belonging to the organisation. (2) Your work environment is pleasant. Affective organizational commitment (Meyer and Allen. Turnover intention (Seashore et al. NY. “Psychological empowerment: issues and illustrations”.com/reprints . 23. Vol. M.. 1991): (1) I do not feel like “part of the family” at the organisation. over other organisations.i.no To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. Further reading Blau. New York. which is a translation of this original. (5) I have control over how I solve customer problems. American Journal of Community Psychology. this company is the best of all possible organisations to work for.A. Corresponding author Sut I Wong Humborstad can be contacted at: sut. 1994): (1) I have the authority to correct customer problems when they occur. (2) I am encouraged to handle customer problems by myself. Empowerment (Hayes. Wiley. (1995). 344 Appendix. Job satisfaction (Hackman and Oldham.3 Zimmerman.
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