Individual-level antecedents of psychological empowerment

Martin Morgan Tuuli*, Steve Rowlinson, Richard Fellows

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The role of individual factors in organizational behavior has been debated since the 1960s and remains unresolved. Psychological empowerment has been portrayed as holding the key to unleashing individual potential for performance improvement in project settings, yet individuals with values at variance with the principles of empowerment may not be suitable candidates. The relationship between seven factors related to an individual's cultural values, status, and quality of relationships and psychological empowerment are explored with a sample of project management-level staff in Hong Kong using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). Results indicate that individual-level factors matter in psychological empowerment experiences in project settings. In particular, culture may be a key boundary condition in making the implementation of empowerment acceptable and effective in different contexts - although the specific influence of cultural values such as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and collectivism/individualism still requires further research to confirm. Building quality relationships between leaders and subordinates, and between subordinates themselves, emerges as a viable root to enhancing psychological empowerment on projects. The study supports findings from cross-cultural studies that show differences in empowerment effects across cultures, and so casts doubts on the convergence hypothesis of management practices across cultures. Building robust social support systems may, however, be fundamental to the successful implementation of empowerment in high power distance and high uncertainty avoidance contexts such as that of Hong Kong and China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04014036-1
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


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