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Title: Organisational empowerment and the individual : analysis of a local authority
Author: Ramewal, Pervinder Singh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 0844
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2001
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During the past decade local government has witnessed a multitude of change programmes aimed at transforming organisational structures and processes to enhance productivity, effectiveness, and competitiveness. These change efforts have largely fallen short of the mark because most Councils fail to account effectively for human elements in these change projects. Empowerment is a means by which an organisation accounts fully for its individuals since they are seen as the main ingredient. At the same time, it is a concept that can be pursued by individuals within an organisation to a limited extent without formal recognition by the organisation. Empowerment is attractive to organisations and individuals for many reasons. It fits easily into the current values of both managers and workers. Some managers see it as a means of removing bureaucracies, freeing workers from the historic collective union negotiation arrangements, gaining more flexibility and rewarding people for their individual efforts. Many employees are attracted to empowerment for similar reasons. This is the second of two reports representing 180 credits towards the D.Prof. The first report evaluated literature and proposed the exploration of empowerment from the individual's perspective, to be carried out in the second report. The main purpose of the first report was to overcome the limits and misunderstandings others have imposed on the concept of empowerment and to consider empowerment from an individual's perspective, as this was regarded as an under researched area within the public sector environment. The D.Prof first report therefore outlined the understanding and interpretation of empowerment as a concept, from the analysis of relevant literature; explored the relationship between theory and practice; described and analysed the individual's perspective in relation to empowerment and the issues that impact on an individual in the context of an empowered organisation; in order to gain a better understanding of the relevant issues; outlined the principles of research methodologies and the identification and justification for the most effective methodology; and highlighted the characteristics within an organisation which would need to exist in order that, from an individual's perspective, it would constitute an empowering organisation. The primary purpose for the second report is to produce a working model ("ideal type") of empowerment for Yardley District Council1 emphasising the individual's perspective. The intention of this report is to describe research carried out in a local government organisation with the key objectives being, firstly, to provide, by building upon the first report, a contribution to the development of theories on empowerment and professional undertaking of empowerment through the development of an "ideal type". Secondly, seeking out the practical applicability of the "ideal type" as a working model, within Yardley, with recommendations for development and action in order to contribute to the pragmatic evolution of Yardley. The specific objectives of this report are therefore: 1. To analyse the local government environment in general and Yardley District Council specifically, in order to establish the extent of empowerment to date and the conditions and scope for the development of empowerment in the future. 2. To outline the research approach adopted in investigating and developing empowerment within Yardley District Council. 3. To test the theoretical conclusions, derived from the first report, in order to establish the relevance of these conclusions to an empowering organisation, from the individual's perspective. 4. To develop the ideal type as a working model which incorporates both the individual's and the organisation's perspective, setting out the constituents of an empowering organisation and the actions required to work towards this. 1 Yardley District Council is not the actual name of the Authority but a fictitious name. However, owing to political sensitivity and in order to anonymise the organisation, this name has been used. 5. To test the validity and credibility of the ideal type before making recommendations for its acceptance and adoption by the Elected Members of the Council. 6. To develop a working model that has transferability features in order that it can be shared with professional colleagues, other local authorities, other public sector organisations and to a lesser extent the private sector. Chapter 1 outlines the general environment within which Yardley District Council operates. Consideration will be given to the extent to which local government has gone through change since 1979, when the Conservative Government came into power with significant manifesto implications for local government, resulting in legislative, funding and control changes. The current issues facing local government including modernisation, Best Value, the changing perception of the public, the emphasis on performance management and inter-local authority comparisons, and the change in local government management. Characteristics, skills, attitudes and perceptions will also be considered. In addition, the chapter will give a flavour of the type of organisation Yardley is, its scale, shape, size, structure, politics and the significant issues it currently faces. Chapter 2 considers, to a limited extent, the overall research strategy and, in depth, the justification of the instruments to be used as well as issues such as data analysis, validity, reliability and ethics. Consideration will also be given to the way in which data has been collected and analysed along with problems and issues that needed to be resolved during the process. Chapter 3 outlines the key findings of interviews, questionnaires and the participant observations at Yardley District Council, including the key characteristics that would enable empowerment, as identified by individuals and a comparison of the findings with the conclusions reached in the first report. Chapter 4 puts forward the ideal type, based on the findings of the first report, conclusions of the research analysis (Chapter 3), as well as personal beliefs and observations, focusing on those aspects that are (a) in the control of the individual and (b) in the control of the organisation. Through the use of a focus group, Chapter 5 tests the ideal type to establish the extent to which it reflects empowerment, from the perspective of the individuals, which would lead to the achievement of Best Value and continuous improvement within the organisation. Following consideration by the focus group, subsequent changes were made to the ideal type to reflect their views and opinions, leading to a revised ideal type (working model) for Yardley District Council. Chapter 6 sets out the conclusions and recommendations from the above and sets out the arguments for the adoption of the ideal type and recommends key actions needed to be taken by the Council in order to move toward empowerment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available