An empirical investigation into the power behind empowerment

Raymond D Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Using the four dimensional frame that Hardy and Leiba-O'Sullivan (1998) developed to conceptually explore the “power behind empowerment” the study empirically illustrates how a police organization's reform program, which was designed to empower lower level officers, foundered on its own innocence. The reform program adopts a resources dependency approach to power, which resonates with the first of the four dimensional frames of power; unobtrusive forms of power embedded at a deeper level of the organizations social system, which are consistent with the third and fourth dimensional frames, remain unaccounted for. A research and methodological framework is developed to bring the effects of these embedded forms of power into plain view. The results of the study indicate that while on the surface the organization has undergone significant change, at a deeper sociocultural level it has not. In consequence, under the guise of empowerment, somewhat paradoxically, unobtrusive forms of power continue to legitimize acts of domination.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1541-6518
Pages (from-to)144-165
Number of pages22
JournalOrganisation Management Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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