Participation and Empowerment: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-4449

Article publication date: 1 September 1999


Welp, M.G. and Wing, L.S. (1999), "Editorial", Participation and Empowerment: An International Journal, Vol. 7 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/pe.1999.11807faa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited


This issue of Participation & Empowerment: An International Journal brings articles from the UK and South Africa. Both articles explore aspects of power dynamics existing in employee relationships and their impact on empowerment. Power dynamics are often covert or unspoken but are always at the heart of creating participation and empowerment.

Using a case study from a UK organization, ScottishPower, Foley, Maxwell, and McGillivray explore the role of human resource management (HRM) in promoting workplace empowerment. They articulate many of the dilemmas HRM functions experience as they, on the one hand, hold humanist ideals and, on the other, can in practice simultaneously become instruments which manipulate and force employee conformity. The authors suggest a Post Modern attentiveness toward HRM discourse, as a way to illuminate the subtle ways that HRM can express power relations between employer and employee.

In our first article, Visagie discusses the influence of affirmative action on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) culture in South Africa. He identifies affirmative action as a key driver in shifting small entrepreneurial organizations toward participative and empowered work cultures. His discussion of the functions of organizational culture further illustrates the need for leaders to focus on creating deeper cultural change aimed at building essential values and promoting relational learning. This reminds one of us (MW) of the year we spent facilitating interracial teambuilding in South African corporations and our learning that the key to success was building relationships which transcended both fear and outgrown but intact assumptions about each other. Thus, as Visagie suggests, creating a new culture serves an important social change function by providing a way to developing both a feeling of unity and a new identity based on equality.

Michael G. Welpmichael@equalvoice.com

Linda S. Winglwing@usinternet.com