The Business of Employee Empowerment: Democracy and Ideology in the Workplace

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It is particularly questionable whether [mentally ill] people in acute crisis situations are in a position to make their own decisions. According to Albert Lenz, people behave primarily regressive in acute crisis situations and tend to leave the responsibility to professionals. In social work , empowerment offers an approach that allows social workers to increase the capacity for self-help of their clients.

Marginalized people who lack self-sufficiency become, at a minimum, dependent on charity, or welfare. They lose their self-confidence because they cannot be fully self-supporting. The opportunities denied them also deprive them of the pride of accomplishment which others, who have those opportunities, can develop for themselves. This in turn can lead to psychological, social and even mental health problems.

As a concept, and model of practice, empowerment is also used in health promotion research and practice. The key principle is for individuals to gain increased control over factors that influence their health status [12]. To empower individuals and to obtain more equity in health, it is also important to address health-related behaviors [13]. Studies suggest that health promotion interventions aiming at empowering adolescents should enable active learning activities, use visualizing tools to facilitate self-reflection, and allow the adolescents to influence intervention activities [14].

According to Robert Adams, there is a long tradition in the UK and the USA respectively to advance forms of self-help that have developed and contributed to more recent concepts of empowerment.

For example, the free enterprise economic theories of Milton Friedman embraced self-help as a respectable contributor to the economy. In economic development , the empowerment approach focuses on mobilizing the self-help efforts of the poor, rather than providing them with social welfare. Economic empowerment is also the empowering of previously disadvantaged sections of the population, for example, in many previously colonized African countries. The World Pensions Council WPC has argued that large institutional investors such as pension funds and endowments are exercising a greater influence on the process of adding and replacing corporate directors — as they are themselves steered to do so by their own board members pension trustees.

Legal empowerment happens when marginalised people or groups use the legal mobilisation i. Legal empowerment approaches are interested in understanding how they can use the law to advance interests and priorities of the marginalised. According to 'Open society foundations' an NGO "Legal empowerment is about strengthening the capacity of all people to exercise their rights , either as individuals or as members of a community. Legal empowerment is about grass root justice, about ensuring that law is not confined to books or courtrooms, but rather is available and meaningful to ordinary people.

Lorenzo Cotula in his book ' Legal Empowerment for Local Resource Control ' outlines the fact that legal tools for securing local resource rights are enshrined in legal system, does not necessarily mean that local resource users are in position to use them and benefit from them. The state legal system is constrained by a range of different factors — from lack of resources to cultural issues. Among these factors economic, geographic, linguistic and other constraints on access to courts, lack of legal awareness as well as legal assistance tend to be recurrent problems.

In many context, marginalised groups do not trust the legal system owing to the widespread manipulation that it has historically been subjected to by the more powerful.

Increased Productivity

Sometimes groups are marginalized by society at large, with governments participating in the process of marginalization. Equal opportunity laws which actively oppose such marginalization, are supposed to allow empowerment to occur. These laws made it illegal to restrict access to schools and public places based on race. They can also be seen as a symptom of minorities' and women's empowerment through lobbying.

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Gender empowerment conventionally refers to the empowerment of women , which is a significant topic of discussion in regards to development and economics nowadays. It also points to approaches regarding other marginalized genders in a particular political or social context. This approach to empowerment is partly informed by feminism and employed legal empowerment by building on international human rights.

Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. According to Thomas A. Potterfield, [23] many organizational theorists and practitioners regard employee empowerment as one of the most important and popular management concepts of our time.

Ciulla discusses an inverse case: that of bogus empowerment. In the sphere of management and organizational theory, "empowerment" often refers loosely to processes for giving subordinates or workers generally greater discretion and resources: distributing control in order to better serve both customers and the interests of employing organizations. One account of the history of workplace empowerment in the United States recalls the clash of management styles in railroad construction in the American West in the midth century, where "traditional" hierarchical East-Coast models of control encountered individualistic pioneer workers, strongly supplemented by methods of efficiency -oriented "worker responsibility " brought to the scene by Chinese laborers.

Bernie Sanders’ plan to empower workers could revolutionise Britain’s economy

In this case, empowerment at the level of work teams or brigades achieved a notable but short-lived demonstrated superiority. See the views of Robert L.


Since the s and s, empowerment has become a point of interest in management concepts and business administration. In this context, empowerment involves approaches that promise greater participation and integration to the employee in order to cope with their tasks as independently as possible and responsibly can. True, workers are formally free to decline capitalist employment, but this does not represent a reasonable option since its consequences are so dire: starvation or, in more enlightened circumstances, life on the dole.

Workers therefore have no minimally reasonable choice but to sell their labor power to owners of means of production. It follows that workers are forced to work for capitalists, even if they are not so forced by capitalists or indeed, by anyone else. I, Not all socialists accept this argument.

Not overnight, perhaps, but with enough scrimping and saving, is it not possible for an individual worker to start a business of her own? Cohen concludes that individual workers are not forced to sell their labor power. But this alleged collective unfreedom of workers, though interesting and important, is peripheral to our present topic and so must be set aside.

In response, some socialists question whether opening a small business really represents a reasonable option for most workers. For another, even if a worker is able, through years of thrift, to open his own business, most businesses fail, often leaving the owner much worse off financially than she would have been had she simply remained a wage laborer.

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In this section, we will explore the core functions of the framework and the building blocks required for creating a democratic leadership structure at any situation. Although the Clubhouse model advances both collective and individual benefits [ 38 ], the benefits of the collective have been considered to be the primary guidelines for the activities [ 39 ]. However, as Baistow reveals in her analysis of the introduction of empowerment policies to the 'helping professions' - it can be both regulatory and liberatory. In this section, we analyse two different interactional contexts related to the selection of TE workers. The media can play a powerful role in shaping and influencing public debate and opinion. We will now proceed to study how the selection of a TE worker is conducted in sequentially unfolding interaction.

But even if Cohen is wrong, and individual workers are forced to sell their labor power, notice that it does not yet follow that workers are exploited. For forced labor alone does not exploitation make. Exploitation, as described above, involves forced, unpaid labor. Let us turn, then, to the issue of compensation, and in particular, to the question of whether workers toil at least in part for free. Again, surface appearances cut against the socialist position.

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The popular and influential concept of employee empowerment may have the emancipatory potential its supporters claim, but it also is subject to constraints and inhibitions. The Business of Employee Empowerment: Democracy and Ideology in the Workplace [Thomas Potterfield] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying.

Wage laborers standardly receive an hourly wage. It certainly seems, then, that workers receive full compensation for their toil. Perhaps this compensation is unfairly low, but that is a different issue: the exploitation charge, standardly construed, is that workers are forced to work for no pay , not that they are forced to work for low pay. But probe more deeply, some socialists contend, and the unpaid nature of much work under capitalism becomes clear. To see their argument, it helps to start with an easier case: feudal production.

Beyond Management as Usual

Put differently, serfs received compensation for part of their working time, but no compensation at all for the rest of it. Marxists argue that precisely the same division between paid and unpaid work exists under capitalism. Workers spend the first part of their working day working, in effect, for themselves.

This is the part of the day during which they produce the equivalent of their wages. But the working day does not stop there. Crucially, this surplus value belongs to the capitalist rather than the worker, and is the source of all profits. To illustrate, consider a worker who produces 1 widget per hour over the course of an eight-hour shift, thus yielding eight widgets in total. Her boss takes these widgets, sells them, and then returns part of the proceeds to the worker in the form of a wage.

How Capitalism Is Killing Democracy

But this wage must be less than what the capitalist reaped by selling the widgets. Otherwise the capitalist would have nothing left over as profit. To produce this value, she had to toil for 2 hours at 1 widget per hour.