Looks at the concepts of “empowerment” and “learning”, and examines the difficulties in making “empowered learning” a reality. Drawing on a series of case studies in the Australian manufacturing industry, shows that empowerment and learning present challenges for both managers and employees. For managers, empowerment and learning raise the prospect of loss of control. To ensure that they do not surrender control, managers sometimes act in ways that disempower employees and undermine opportunities for learning. Like managers, employees may be wary of empowerment and learning, partly because of the potential for hostility and blame. Employees may feel that the risks of empowered learning are high while the potential benefits are low. As with managers, personal security seems to be the basic, underlying issue. Also argues that technoculture (the organization’s human and technical systems and associated assumptions) can perpetuate control‐oriented ways of operating even if management has made a genuine effort to foster empowerment and learning.
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