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Psychological empowerment and organizational commitment: An empirical study of software programmers in India

First Author Dr. Y Rama Krishna Head, Dept. of Business Management Aristotle Post Graduate College II floor, Diamond House Himayathnagar, Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh, India – 500 029. Ph. +91-40-3022 8744 Ph + 91-40-2712 2648 Ph 98496 39393

Psychological empowerment and organizational commitment: An empirical study of software programmers in India



Abstract This study examines the validity and reliability of Menon’s (2001) psychological empowerment instrument in a culturally diverse Indian context. It also examines the invariability of the instrument amongst male and female groups. Furthermore, the study examines the relationship between individual dimensions of psychological empowerment, and affective and normative commitment. Empowered employees are hypothesized to exhibit higher levels of commitment. Two hundred and thirty five software programmers completed the Menon’s psychological empowerment and Meyer and Allen’s commitment questionnaires. Contrary to Menon’s findings, in Indian context Perceived Competence emerged as first factor followed by goal internalization, and perceived control in principal component analysis. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) revealed the factor structure similar to the one reported by Menon (2001). CFA also confirms the invariability of the instrument among male and female groups. Results suggest a significant and positive relationship among psychological empowerment, affective commitment and normative commitment. However, no significant relation was found between perceived competence subscale and affective commitment. Implications of theory and practice are discussed.

Introduction In recent years, the concept of empowerment has become a buzzword in management circles and gained prominence as an individual level initiative. Its origins are in issues raised in the era of employee involvement symbolized by participative management, managerial practices such as employee self-management (Shipper & Manz, 1992), and sharing power and responsibility with team members (Conger & Kanungo, 1988). “Yet, until recently, the literature has lacked consensus on a definition or operationalization of empowerment in the workplace” (Spreitzer, Kizilos, and Nason, 1997). Spreitzer (1995a) for the first time developed and validated a multi-


3 dimensional measure of psychological empowerment in a work context. Several empirical studies were conducted using Spreitzer multi-dimensional construct to measure psychological empowerment. Menon (2001) developed and validated another multi-dimensional measure of psychological empowerment “as a logical next step in the research direction suggested by Conger and Kanungo (1988).” Despite of these multiple measures, a little empirical work has been done on empowerment. Furthermore, there has been little rigorous research on its antecedents, and its consequences (Menon, 2001). Definitions Psychological Empowerment A working definition of psychological empowerment can be proposed as follows: the psychologically empowered state is a cognitive state characterized by a sense of perceived control, competence, and goal internalization. Empowerment is thus considered a multi-faceted construct reflecting the different dimensions of being psychologically enabled, and is conceived of as a positive additive function of the three dimensions. Perceived Control includes beliefs about authority, decision-making latitude, availability of resources, and autonomy in the scheduling and performance of work, etc. Perceived Competence reflects role-mastery, which besides requiring the skillful

accomplishment of one or more assigned tasks, also requires successful coping with non-routine role-related situations. Goal Internalization dimension captures the energizing property of a worthy cause or exciting vision provided by the organizational leadership. Affective Commitment (AC): The degree of an employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization (Allen & Meyer, 1990). AC is defined as the employee's emotional attachment to the organization. As a result, he or she strongly identifies


4 with the goals of the organization and desires to remain a part of the organization. The employee commits to the organization because he/she "wants to". Normative Commitment (NC): The degree to which an employee feels some sense of obligation to remain with an organization. The individual commits to and remains with an organization because of feelings of obligation. For instance, the organization may have invested resources in training an employee who then feels an obligation to putforth effort on the job and stay with the organization to 'repay the debt.' It may also reflect an internalized norm, developed before the person joins the organization through family or other socialization processes, that one should be loyal to one's organization. The employee stays with the organization because he/she "ought to". Literature review In recent times, “organizational researchers and business practitioners have focused increasing attention on psychological empowerment in the workplace” (Spreitzer, Janasz, and Quinn, 1999, p. 511). This observation of Spreitzer et., al. is supported by Menon (2001, p. 154) who, look at workplace empowerment as “the major new industrial weapon against domestic and international threats.” This growing interest in employee empowerment is the result of studies conducted in leadership and management skills (Bennis & Nanus, 1985), power and control (Kanter, 1979), and team building (Beckhard, 1969). These studies suggest that employee empowerment is a principal component of managerial and organizational effectiveness, and plays a crucial role in team development and maintenance (Conger & Kanungo, 1988, p.471). Empowerment has been defined by Conger & Kanungo (1988, p. 474) as “a process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among organizational members through the identification of conditions that foster powerlessness and through their removal by both formal organizational practices and informal techniques of providing efficacy information.” Thomas & Velthouse (1990) further developed the general approach to empowerment taken by Conger & Kanungo. Thomas & Velthouse argued that empowerment is a multifaceted, and defined it more broadly as


5 “increased intrinsic task motivation” manifested in a set of four cognitions reflecting an individual’s orientation to his or her work role: impact, competence, meaning, and choice (Spreitzer, 1995). Impact is seen as “making a difference” in terms of accomplishing the purpose of the task (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990, p. 672). Competence is an individual’s ability to perform task activities skillfully (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990, p. 672). Meaning is the value of the task goal or purpose. Judged in relation to the individuals own ideals or standards (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990, p. 672), while Choice is “causal responsibility for a person’s actions” (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990, p. 673). Spreitzer (1995) operationalized Thomas & Velthouse’s multi-dimensional conceptualization and began the process of construct validation. Several studies have been conducted using Spreitzer’s empowerment measurement. Although Spreitzer’s (1995, 1996) measure assess multiple dimensions of empowerment, “it does not tap into that aspect of empowerment that is related to inspiring leadership or an exciting organizational vision” (Menon, 2001, p.175). Menon (2001) developed a new instrument to measure psychological empowerment. Menon’s 15-item, three component instrument attempts to capture feelings of goal internalization, perceived control, and perceived competence (Menon, 2001, p. 161). Earlier studies related psychological empowerment to access to information and resources, role ambiguity (Spreitzer, 1996), effectiveness, work satisfaction, and job related strain (Spreitzer, Kizilos, and Nason, 1997). Menon (2001) relates psychological empowerment to organizational commitment, job involvement, and citizenship behavior. Bhatnagar (2005) also relates the psychological empowerment to organizational commitment. Majority of the previous research examined how an overall empowerment composite relates to various outcomes, but we have little understanding regarding if and how each of the individual dimensions contributes to the expected outcomes of empowerment (Spreitzer, 1997). In addition, as these measures have been developed in North America and establishing universal applicability requires their validation in other cultural settings (Dimitriades, 2005). Earlier studies on empowerment failed to validate the invariability of these measures amongst male and female groups.



This study examines the validity and reliability of Menon’s psychological empowerment instrument in the Indian context and also validates the invariability of the instrument amongst male and female groups. It also examines the relationships between each of the individual dimensions of Menon’s empowerment measure and Meyer and Allen’s affective and normative commitment. Hypotheses Hypothesis 1: Employee psychological empowerment subscales will be positively related to affective commitment. Hypothesis 2: Employee psychological empowerment subscales will be positively related to normative commitment. Organizational context The software industry, which is a main component of the Information Technology (I T) sector, has brought tremendous success to the Indian economy. India's young aged manpower is the key behind this success story. According to National Association of Software Service Companies (NASSCOM) report, as of the year 2004-05, both software and services revenue grew by 32 percent to $ 22 billions and $ 28.5 billions in 2005-06. This credit goes to technical young people and English-speaking scientific professionals. In India, software companies are known for high salaries, performance based pay, high incentives, flexible working hours, state of the art technologies, and faster career growth. Despite of these facilities I T companies are witnessing higher attrition rate. Attrition rate in these companies is between 15 and 20 percent. Human resource managers in these companies are devoting most of their time to design strategies to minimize attrition, and to enhance commitment amongst employees. METHOD Measures Psychological Empowerment


7 Psychological empowerment was measured using the nine-item scale developed by Menon (2001). Respondents were asked to use a six-point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” to report on perceived level of empowerment. (Table 2 describes scale items). Organizational Commitment Affective and Normative commitment was assessed using Meyer and Allen’s (1997) Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ). Affective commitment denotes a sense of belonging and emotional attachment to the organization (e.g., “I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with this organization”). Normative commitment denotes the individual’s obligation to remain with the organization (e.g., “I owe a great deal to my organization”). Items were anchored by a five-point scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Sample and Data Collection Questionnaires were distributed to 500 software programmers working in 7 software development companies located in Hyderabad, India. Of the 7 companies, 4 are Indian and 3 are U S based IT companies having their software development centers (SDC) in Hyderabad. Questionnaires from 261 respondents were returned. Of the 261 questionnaires, 235 were found to be valid, for a useable response rate of 47 percent. Out of a total of 235 respondents, 57.8 percent were male. In terms of nature of employment 59.1 percent were permanent employees and the rest were employed on contract basis. 57 percent had bachelor’s level education and 43 percent had master’s degrees. The mean age of the sample was 25.4 years old (S. D = 4.6) and the average job tenure was 2.4 years (S .D = 1.8).

Validity and Reliability Analysis Item analysis and correlation: The descriptive statistics and the correlation matrix are as shown in Table 1. Items within each subscale significantly correlated with each other (mean r = .63). These correlations are shown in bold in Table 1. On the other hand, as expected, the items from dissimilar subscales had relatively low correlations with each other (mean r = .21).



Means, Standard Deviations, and intercorrelations ---------------------------------TABLE 1 about here ----------------------------------Factor structure of Menon’s psychological empowerment in India A principal component analysis with varimax rotation (Table 2) yielded three factors with eigenvalues greater than 1. A screeplot before the analysis supported the factor solution. Bartlett’s test of spherity was significant, and the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling was acceptable (.73). In total, the three factors accounted for 75.7% of the variance. The first factor explained 39.8% of the variance and this factor covered all items of Perceived Competence (COMP) scale. The second factor consisted of Goal Internalization (GI) scale, explaining 20.3% of the variance, and the third factor consisted of Perceived Control (PC) scale, explaining 15.5% of the variance. As can be seen from Table 2, the items in each subscale have high loadings on their respective components and relatively low loadings on the other two factors. All the three subscale had acceptable alpha reliabilities: competence (.88), goal internalization (.85), and perceived control (.75). Principal Component Analysis Results (Factor Loadings) ---------------------------------TABLE 2 about here ----------------------------------Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). To test the factor structure of the psychological empowerment measure a CFA using LISREL (Version 8.72; Jöreskog and Sörbom, 2005) was conducted with correlation matrix as input. Conventional fit statistics provided in the LISREL output were used to assess fit: Chi-square with degrees of freedom, the goodness-of-fit (GFI), the Normed-fit index (NFI), comparative fit index (CFI), and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). A good fit to the data is indicated by non-significant chi square, GFI, NFI, and CFI 0.9 and higher, and a RMSEA under 0.10. The three factor model that was reported by Menon (2001) was confirmed in this study. Fig. 1 shows the results of a CFA. The resulting fit indices were as follows: chi square (χ2 =38.4, d.f.


9 24), goodness-of fit index (GFI) = .96, adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AGFI) = .93, Normed fit index (NFI) = .97, Comparative fit index (CFI) = .99, and root-mean-square error approximation (RMSEA) = .05. ---------------------------------FIGURE 1 about here ----------------------------------To validate the invariability of factor structure of three factor psychological empowerment model between male and female sample, a group level CFA was performed using LISREL. Fig. 2 shows the results of group level CFA. The resulting fit indices were as follows: chi square (χ2=77.5, d.f. 60), goodness-of fit index (GFI) = .92, Normed fit index (NFI) = .93, Comparative fit index (CFI) = .98, and root-mean-square error approximation (RMSEA) = .05. Results show that the model is invariant of gender differences. ---------------------------------FIGURE 2 about here ----------------------------------Hypotheses Testing Correlation and hierarchical regression (Cohen and Cohen 1978) analyses were conducted to test the hypotheses. First, hypotheses were tested with correlation analysis; to test these hypotheses further, regression analysis was used. With hierarchical regression, perceived competence was initially entered into the regression equation for each outcome (dependent) variable, followed by perceived control, and then by goal internalization. This three step procedure was employed to ascertain the nature of relationship between each of the three psychological empowerment measures and commitment and also to determine the unique variance contributed by each of them. This ordering of independent variables was utilized to understand employees felt empowerment at individual, departmental and organizational level.

Correlation analysis results Table 3 shows the means, standard deviations and bivariate correlations among the psychological empowerment subscales and affective and normative commitment. As expected, goal internalization and perceived control are significantly and positively correlated with affective and normative commitment. Perceived competence is significantly and positively correlated only 9

10 with normative commitment. Contrary to hypotheses no significant relation is found between perceived competence and affective commitment. Correlation coefficients between psychological empowerment and Commitment ---------------------------------TABLE 3 about here ----------------------------------Regression analysis results To test further H1 and H2, hierarchical regression was employed. Table 4 shows the hierarchical regression results. When analyzing the results with this method, particular attention was given to the beta coefficients, R2, and change in R2 at each step. The beta coefficients suggest that affective commitment accrues from goal internalization (.33) and perceived control (.17). Normative commitment is also explained by goal internalization (.28) and perceived control (.25). Goal Internalization: Goal internalization dimension was found to be positively related to affective commitment (β = .33, p < .001), and normative commitment (β = .28, p < =.001). Earlier, Menon (2001) reported similar results between goal internalization and affective commitment (β = .65, p < =.001). In addition, goal internalization explained significant variance above and beyond perceived control and perceived competence dimensions in predicting affective commitment. Perceived Control: Perceived control was found to be significantly related to normative commitment (β = .25, p < =.001), and to a lesser extent with affective commitment (β = .17, p < =.01). Perceived Competence: This study does not find any significant relationship between perceived competence and commitment.

Regression analysis results ---------------------------------TABLE 4 about here ----------------------------------General discussion


11 The present study confirms the universal applicability of Menon’s psychological empowerment measure. Results report the invariability of the measure in diverse cultural setting and in male and female gender groups. Consistent with previous research, present study suggests that goal internalization and perceived control have significant positive relation with affective and normative commitment. Individual dimensions of goal internalization and perceived control augments the organizational commitment. However, no significant relation was found between perceived competence and commitment. This may be because of dynamics prevailing in Indian software industry, where poaching best brains available in the market is rule of the day. In addition, success or failure of the software company largely depends on the quality of the work force that they possess. Because of this, competent employees are having multiple job opportunities in hand, and are always looking for the “better” opportunity. Contrary to Menon’s (2001) findings, in the present research perceived competence emerged as the first factor in the principal component analysis, followed by goal internalization and perceived control. This may be due to the data collected from highly skilled and educated software programmers, for whom competence is a primary requirement to perform their job. Competence items were also reported high mean scores and little variance (Comp 3 = 5.65, SD = .49; Comp 1 = 5.58, SD = .54; Comp 2 = 5.57, SD = .59). Practical implications of these results are: to foster organizational commitment managers need to internalize the corporate goals and has to create an environment, where employees should feel a sense of control over resources and decision making. Again, since the competent employees are always looking for better opportunities, managers should provide training and development to these employees, by doing this normative commitment can be enhanced among the employees.

Limitations and directions for future research This study examines the relationship between empowerment and its consequences, in future studies must concentrate on the antecedents of empowerment. The present study does not consider the influence of demographic variables on empowerment and organizational 11

12 commitment. In future, studies should measure the impact of demographic variables like age, gender, education, nature of employment and work experience on empowerment and also on outcome measures. To further strengthen the theoretical foundations of psychological empowerment, there is need to conduct the longitudinal studies. In present research, data were collected from single industry. To establish the psychometric properties of the psychological empowerment measurement, future studies must examine the validity of the instrument by collecting data from different industries. Future research should also consider in comparing and contrasting the factor structure of the psychological empowerment with data collected from different countries.

References Allen, N.J., & Meyer, J.P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63: 1-18.


13 Beckhard, R. (1969). Organization development strategies and models. Reading, MA AddisonWesley. Bennis. W., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders. New York, Harper & Row Bhatnagar, J. 2005. The power of psychological empowerment as an antecedent to organizational commitment in Indian managers. Human Resources Development International, 8 (4): 419-433. Cohen, J. & P. Cohen. (1975). Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Conger, J.A., & Kanungo, R. N. (1988). The empowerment process: Integrating theory and practice. Academy of Management Review, 13: 471-482. Dimitriades, Z. S. (2005). Employee empowerment in the Greek context. International Journal of Manpower, 26(1): 80-92. Kanter, R.M. (1979). Power failures in management circuits. Harvard Business Review, 57(4): 65-75. Menon, S.T. (2001). Employee empowerment: An integrative psychological approach. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 50 (1): 153-180. Meyer, J.P., & Allen, N.J. (1997). Commitment in the workplace: Theory, research, and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Shipper, F., & Manz, C.C. (1992). Employee self-management without formally designated teams: An alternative road to empowerment. Organizational Dynamics, winter, 48-61 Spreitzer, G.M. (1995). Psychological empowerment in workplace: Construct definition, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38: 1442-1465. Spreitzer, G.M. (1996). Social structural characteristics of psychological empowerment. Academy of Management Journal, 39(2): 483-504. Spreitzer, G.M., Kizilos, M.A., & Nason, S.W. (1997). A dimensional analysis of the relationship between psychological empowerment and effectiveness, satisfaction, and strain. Journal of Management, 23(5): 679-704. Thomas, K.W., & Velthouse, B.A. (1990). Cognitive elements of empowerment: An “Interpretive” model of intrinsic task motivation. Academy of Management Review, 15(4): 666-68.

TABLE 1 Means, Standard Deviations, and intercorrelations
GI4 Mean 4.91 Std. Deviation 0.88 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


GI1 GI2 PC1 PC4 PC2 COMP3 COMP1 COMP2 ** p < 0.01 4.92 0.86 5.16 0.77 4.80 0.92 4.47 1.03 4.29 1.27 5.65 0.49 5.58 0.54 5.57 0.59 * p < 0.05 .74(**) .58(**) .22(**) .26(**) .24(**) .22(**) .19(**) .22(**)

.64(**) .23(**) .27(**) .26(**) .25(**) .24(**) .24 (**)

.27(**) .24(**) .25(**) .30(**) .19(**) .26(**)

.56(**) .31(**) .19(**) .18(**) .23(**)

.64(**) .15(*) .13(*) .17(**)

.17 (**) .09 .13(*)

.69(**) .65(**)


TABLE 2 Principal Component Analysis Results (Factor Loadings)
Item COMP1: I have the skills and abilities to do my job well COMP2: I have the competence to work effectively COMP3: I have the capabilities required to do my job well GI1: I am inspired by the goals of the organization GI4: I am inspired by what we are trying to achieve as an organization GI2: I am enthusiastic about working toward the organization’s objectives PC4: I can influence decisions taken in my department PC2: I have the authority to make decisions at work PC1: I can influence the way work is done in my department Eigenvalue % Variance (Cumulative) Factor 1 .93 .90 .83 .13 .09 .15 .05 .02 .17 3.59 39.8 Factor 2 .09 .12 .17 .89 .87 .80 .13 .16 .12 1.83 60.2 Factor 3 .05 .11 .10 .14 .14 .16 .90 .78 .72 1.39 75.7



GI 4 GI 1 GI 2 PC 1 PC 4 PC 2

.82 .91 .72 .33 .58 GI

Fig. 1

.97 .65



.17 COMP 3 COMP 1 COMP 2 .94 .89 .74 COMP GI Goal Internalization PC Perceived Control COMP Perceived Competence

GI 4 GI 1 GI 2 PC 1 PC 4 PC 2

.82 .91 .71 .33 .59 GI

Fig. 2

.98 .65



.19 COMP 3 COMP 1 COMP 2 .93 .89 .74 COMP GI Goal Internalization PC Perceived Control COMP Perceived Competence


16 TABLE 3 Correlation coefficients between psychological empowerment and Commitment
GI PC COMP ACS NCS ** p < 0.01 Mean 4.99 4.52 5.60 3.81 3.98 SD .74 .89 .49 .84 .77 GI PC COMP ACS

.37(**) .28(**) .38(**) .39(**) .24(**) .23(**) .32(**) .04 .17(**) .41(**)

TABLE 4 Regression analysis results
Regression Step 1. Perceived Competence 2. Perceived Competence Perceived Control Beta R2 Beta Beta R2 Δ R2 Beta Beta Beta R2 Δ R2 Dependent Variables Affective Commitment Normative Commitment .01 .16 -.00 .03 -.04 .27*** .06 .07 *** -.12 .17** .33*** .16 .09 *** 14.64*** .10 .34*** .14 .11 *** .03 .25*** .28*** .20 .06 *** 19.18***

3. Perceived Competence Perceived Control Goal Internalization (F value) p < 0 .001, ** p < 0.01