How structural empowerment boosts organizational resilience: A case study in the Dutch home care industry

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Abstract

Previous work has demonstrated that structural forms of empowerment tend to enhance individual and team resilience. However, there is hardly any knowledge about how structural empowerment affects organizational resilience. Moreover, a widespread (though largely untested) assumption is that, in adverse times, power and authority need to be centralized at the top to enhance organizational resilience. This paper explores the effects of empowerment on organizational resilience in an in-depth case study of a Dutch home care organization, in which employees are structurally empowered. The findings from this case study suggest that structural empowerment positively affects organizational resilience, but that this effect is contingent upon a climate of psychological safety as well as top management’s sustained commitment to structural empowerment. We move beyond the extant conceptualization of psychological safety by demonstrating its inter-level nature in the context of structural empowerment, which operates across organizational levels when employees also engage in discussions on tactical and strategic issues. Overall, this study provides an in-depth understanding of how organizations can enhance their resilience by empowering their members, thus also challenging the common wisdom about centralizing power in adverse times.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
VolumeXX
Issue numberXX
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Mar 2021

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