Empowerment as Predictor of Organizational Role Stress among Bank and Insurance Personnel

Ajai Pratap Singh* Abstract
This study examines the impact of empowerment on organisational role stress. Based on a sample size of 120, the results depicted empowerment as being negatively and significantly related with organisational role stress. The findings have implications for managing and regulating organisational role stress.

----------------------------------------------------------------------*Senior Lecturer , Dept. of Applied Psychology, VBS Purvanchal University Jaunpur,UP India Email- ajaisingh27@yahoo.com

and reducing dysfunctional stress. and through their removal by both formal organizational practices and informal techniques of proving efficacy information. the effect of empowerment is the initiation and persistence of behavior by empowered employees to accomplish task objectives. the potential for stress increases. industrialization and increase in scale of operations are some of the reasons for rising stress. the concept of empowerment has become a buzzword in management circles and gained prominence as an individual level initiative to counter stress. as they can no longer have complete control over what happens in their lives. People experience stress. Its origins are in issues raised in the era of employee involvement symbolized by participative management. to some extent. its stimulant as well.Introduction Modern life is full of stress. Urbanization. This definition implies strengthening the effort-to-performance expectancy or increasing employee feeling of self-efficacy. Employee Empowerment One of the most frequently referenced definitions of employee empowerment is that offered by Conger and Kanungo (1988). Being no escape from stress in modem life. This definition is rooted in management theory of power and authority delegation . They define empowerment as a process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among organizational members through the identification of conditions that foster powerlessness. and sharing power and responsibility with team members. As organizations become more complex. In recent years. According to Conger and Kanungo. Stress is an inevitable consequence of socioeconomic complexity and. managerial practices such as employee self management. we need to find ways of using stress productively.

Benis and Nanus (1985) suggest the setting of performance . Block (1987) adds the creation of opportunities for employees to participate in decision making. Comparatively. and Ryan. argued that the concept of empowerment is much more complex and could not be fully explained in a one dimensional construct such as self-efficacy. competence. Employee empowerment literature identifies contextual factors and strategies that promote and support empowerment. they mean. For example. Burke (1986) suggests that a way to empower employees is to express confidence in them together with establishing realistic high performance expectations for them. a positively valued experiences that an individual derives directly from a task that produces motivation and satisfaction. reflecting an individual’s orientation to his or her work roles. Meaningfulness is the value of the task goal or purpose in relation to the individual’s own ideals or standards. 1989). on the other hand. Thomas and Velthouse (1990). and competence is the degree to which a person can perform task activities skillfully. It reflects independence in the initiation and continuation of work behavior and processes (Deci. while choice or self-determination is the causal responsibility for a person’s actions. Connell. is the degree to which behavior is seen as making a difference in terms of accomplishing the purpose of the task. and giving employees autonomy from bureaucratic constraints as empowerment strategies.that gives an employee the right to control and use organizational resources to bring about desired organizational outcomes. Impact. impact and choice or selfdetermination). however. By intrinsic task motivation. They therefore define empowerment as an intrinsic task motivation that manifests itself in four cognitions (meaningfulness.

Kahn. p. however. 1996. . opportunities for career advancement and task meaningfulness as ways to empower employees. expectations of the organization. information about rewards based on the organization’s performance.objectives for employees that are challenging and inspiring. 19). Kanter (1979). task identity. McClelland (1975) and House (1988) suggest that empowerment could be achieved through employee selection and training programs designed to provide required technical skills together with a culture which encourages self-determination and collaboration instead of competition. knowledge that enables employees to understand and contribute to organizational performance. 1964) has identified role conflict and role ambiguity as the two key components of role stress. Oldham (1976). Role Stress Role stress occurs in employee jobs that involve direct customer contact whether in the context of a face-to-face or a telephone service encounter (Babin & Boles. information about an organization’s performance. & Rosenthal. Wolfe. For personnel. A practical and process oriented definition of empowerment was offered by Bowen and Lawler (1992). Hackman and Oldham (1975) suggest performance-based reward systems and enriched jobs that provide autonomy and control. 1964. Brown & Peterson. At the organizational level. Also. the supervisor or team leaders stressing operational efficiency may clash with the demands of customers who want problem resolution or satisfaction. They define employee empowerment as sharing with front-line employees. Quinn. 1993. Role conflict has been defined as “the simultaneous occurrence of two (or more) sets of pressures such that compliance with one would make more difficult compliance with the other” (Kahn et al.. Strauss (1977). Snoek. and giving employees the power to make decisions that influence organizational direction and performance.

Empowerment. Churchill. and recent empirical work has shown that this is a major factor of job stress (Aiello & Kolb. not realizing that a critical element of call center employee performance is the level of satisfaction based on meeting customer expectations. Autonomous employees feel that they . 1995). Silverman & Smith. 1995. Empirical work has established a negative relationship between empowerment and role stress (ambiguity and conflict). Spreitzer. The antecedents of role stress (role ambiguity and role conflict) are clearly established in the literature. 1995. 1995). Conger & Kanungo.In many instances supervisors focus on technology to speed up the process of customer interaction. modern organisations are typically a setting in which electronic performance monitoring takes place. & Ford. 1975). whereas authority reflects autonomy in the initiation and continuation of work behavior and processes. Role ambiguity occurs when a person does not have access to sufficient information to perform his or her role as a service employee adequately (Walker. Empirical research on the relationship between empowerment and role stress is both scarce and mixed (Bowen and Lawler 1995). Employees that experience a work-specific sense of competence are more likely to assume an active orientation with regard to their work and hence will experience lower levels of role stress (Gist & Mitchell. Two dimensions of empowerment have been identified: (1) competence and (2) authority (Chiles & Zorn. 1988. The greater the perceived empowerment the less the role stress. Furthermore. Competence is an employee’s belief in the capability to perform job related activities with skill. 1992). competence. Role ambiguity may result when the employee is uncertain about the supervisory expectations or when they do not know how their performance will be evaluated. and leadership have been found to affect role stress.

empowerment and . This closely resembles the production line approach to service delivery that has been effectively used in the fastfood business (Bowen & Lawler. by selecting the appropriate path for them to follow through so-called “screen pops” containing communication scripts. Keijsers. This is explained by the fact that empowerment may increase uncertainty because there are fewer standards or procedures that can be used as guidelines by employees. in many organizations. Many operational aspects of a modern organization actually create pressures that reduce the probability of employees to feel empowered. Objectives This study has been designed to investigate the relationships as well as the contribution of empowerment dimensions on organisational role stress in the Indian context. 1995). employees have to deal with unusual and unexpected situations in which the strong emphasis on rules and regulations of the scripted approach lacks the required flexibility and discretionary behavior needed to satisfy customers. 1995). & Miranda. To investigate the relationships between organisational role stress. However. Empowered employees are free to fine-tune service regulations contained in scripts in order to meet or exceed customer expectations. In many industries there has been a strong emphasis on the role that information technology plays in guiding employees through customer interactions. It has the following objectives: 1.have the responsibility and the power to make things happen. The rigid focus on technology may lead to role stress (Schaufeli. Hartline and Ferrell (1996) report a direct positive relationship between empowerment (operationalized as tolerance of freedom) and role conflict and report an indirect positive effect of empowerment on role ambiguity.

role expectation conflict. India. inter. The scale has a total of fifty items divided into ten dimensions and a total score.73(Sen. Tools ORGANIZATIONAL ROLE STRESS SCALE (ORS) The organizational role stress scale (ORS) used was developed by Pareek (1997). To find out the contribution/impact of empowerment on organisational role stress. female = 8) were selected by purposive sampling technique from 4 banks and 5 insurance companies (both private and public) in Utter Pradesh. resource inadequacy and personal inadequacy. role ambiguity. role isolation. There will be significant relationships between dimensions and organisational role empowerment stress. taps the em- . role erosion.2. Spreitzer’s measure. The mean age of the participants was 38. Method Sample A sample of 120 employees (male = 112.31 years with a standard deviation of 10.role distance. The empowerment dimensions will significantly contribute to organisational role stress. It has a test-retest reliability coefficient of 0. 1981). The average tenure of participants in their job positions was 12.41 ranging from 19 to 56 years. The ten dimensions of the ORS are: self role distance.99 years ranging from 1 to 31 years. role stagnation. role overload. 2. Hypotheses It tests the following hypotheses: 1. Empowerment Scale Empowerment was assessed using the instrument developed by Spreitzer (1995). comprising four 3-item subscales.

Multiple regression analysis was used examine the relative impact of empowerment dimensions on organizational role stress.447(**) COMPETENCE 1 . This indicates that empowerment level of the employees help them to get into a productive process of controlling and managing organizational role stress. To be more precise. Correlation analysis was used to measure the linear relationship between dependent and independent variables.344(**) -.62 in an insurance sample.552(**) . ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”.powerment dimensions of meaning. or disagreement. with 12 Likert-type statements. The correlation values between them are negative and all of them have been found to be significant. Results and Discussion The major thrust of the present investigation was to study the relationship between empowerment and organizational role stress.687(**) . Alpha for a combined scale was . Table:1 Correlation between Empowerment Dimensions and Organizational Role Stress(N = 120) SELF Variables MEANING COMPETENCE DETERMINATION MEANING 1 .524(**) -. In the present study responses were recorded on a seven-point scale.72 in an industrial sample and .461(**) 1 IMPACT . self- determination and impact by asking respondents to indicate their degree of agreement. competence. meaning.01 level (2-tailed). perceived competence.527(**) 1 The results in Table 1 depict the kind as well as the level of relationship between Empowerment dimensions and Organizational Role Stress. ORGANISATIONAL ROLE STRESS -.671(**) . impact and self determination help in managing their own role .277(**) -.553(**) SELF 1 DETERMINATION IMPACT ORGANIZATIONAL ROLE STRESS ** Correlation is significant at the 0.

It is clear from the table that competence makes the largest unique contribution ( beta= -.419) and meaning (beta = .4% of the variance. Spreitzer.612 R square .8% was obtained in R square when it was entered along with impact and meaning in the regression model accounting for 37. The greater the perceived empowerment less the role stress. Employees that experience a work-specific sense of competence are more likely to assume an active orientation with regard to their work and hence will experience lower levels of role stress (Gist & Mitchell. 1995. 1988.001 Table 2 reveals that when the independent variables entered in the regression model with competence as a criterion.000 . followed by impact (beta = -.5 % of the variance when entered in the regression equation.000 .377 t -5. A significant increase of 4.091 3. Earlier empirical works have also established a negative relationship between empowerment and role stress (ambiguity and conflict).268 Sig.546). Two dimensions of empowerment have been identified: (1) competence and (2) authority (Chiles & Zorn.546 -.524 . Conger & Kanungo.563 . A significant increase of 5. 1995).stress in more intelligent ways. competence alone contributed 27.317 . Table: 2 Impact of Empowerment on Organizational Role Stress (N = 120) Predictors COMPETENCE IMPACT MEANING R .274 . .000 .3% was obtained in R square when it was entered along with impact in the regression model accounting for 31.058 Beta -. .431 -4.419 .043 .377).375 ∆R² . 1992).7 % of variance. These findings support the findings of past research.

and sequence of tasks in dealing with customers.” At the same time empowerment competence— having the training and skills to answer the questions. whereby employees switch jobs and learn about different duties and responsibilities.e. feeling in control of anything that is and can be asked—feeds directly into job satisfaction and does not affect role stress.e.. and (3) operational participation (planning . scheduling. it has been emphasized that job rotation. and answer questions is clearly stressful as a “role issue. determining standards). the empowerment seems to have a relatively strong impact in terms of role stress reduction. That is. In this environment. change processes such as service quality improvement by reducing response times). with higher consumer expectations. general conditions of work. working method. solve problems. In stressful work environments. shift systems). not having the power to achieve solutions. While an increase in autonomy could be implemented at the level of the individual employee. 1995). and reinforcement of employees’ faith in their own competencies and skills are particularly useful in increasing job satisfaction. One important implication seems to allow employees the freedom to influence pace. such as working hours. Implications These results also suggest a number of managerial implications. it has been shown that increasing autonomy at work-group level by means of self-management work teams significantly decreases employee role stress (Terra. First of all. . empowerment is clearly seen as influencing role stress.. solve the problems. (2) process (i.The bank and insurance sector is a vibrant environment in which the employees must handle more transactions that have increasing complexity. Developing empowerment autonomy could be done at three levels: (1) strategic (i.

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