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How to empower employees: using training to enhance work units’ collective empowerment

Christian Voegtlin (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Stephan A. Boehm (Center for Disability Integration, University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Heike Bruch (Institute for Leadership and Human Resource Management, University of St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine, theoretically and empirically, whether an employee training program can enhance the collective perception of empowerment of work units within an organization. The authors hypothesized that training participation relates to empowerment by enhancing the potency, meaningfulness, impact, and autonomy of the employees.


The authors collected data at two time points, before and after the training intervention. Over the two periods, the sample consisted of an average of 2,383 employees nested in 36 work units of a large multinational company.


The results indicated a positive relationship between training participation and increased levels of collective psychological empowerment, with differential effects on the dimensions of empowerment.

Practical implications

This study provides evidence of the positive relationship between training and empowerment, suggesting training effects across levels of analysis. The results indicated dimensions of empowerment that are more and such that are less prone to training. Such knowledge may help to inform organizations in developing training strategies. The authors provide recommendations for a respective training program.


This is one of the first studies to investigate the relationship between training participation of individual employees and shared empowerment perceptions within their work units, adding an important antecedent to the research on empowerment. In addition, the authors propose ways of how individual employees can affect shared perceptions among work-unit members. The study offers insights into the development of empowered work units, the vertical transfer of training across levels of analysis and implications for training programs.



Voegtlin, C., Boehm, S.A. and Bruch, H. (2015), "How to empower employees: using training to enhance work units’ collective empowerment", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 354-373.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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