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    Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 4, Summer 2004 ( 2004)



    Sally A. CarlessMonash University

    ABSTRACT: This study tested a model in which empowerment was hypothesisedto mediate the relationship between psychological climate and job satisfaction.Individual levels of negative affectivity were controlled for. The sample consistedof 174 customer service employees (59% female and 39% male). Support wasfound for a model in which empowerment mediated the relationship betweenclimate and job satisfaction, the dimensions of meaning and competence werelargely responsible for the mediating effects of empowerment. Theoretical andpractical implications of the findings were explored.

    KEY WORDS: psychological empowerment; psychological climate; job satisfaction.

    In recent years there has been considerable academic and prac-titioner interest in the topic of empowerment. Empowerment programshave been introduced in a number of organisations in order to improveproductivity, increase customer satisfaction and enhance competitive ad-vantage (Hardy & Leiba-OSullivan, 1998). According to Ford and Fottler(1995) empowerment is commonplace and usually means giving em-ployees the autonomy to make decisions about how they go about theirdaily activities. To date, the majority of research on empowerment hasfocussed on the individual job encumbents psychological experience ofempowerment and linking this with various work-related outcomes (e.g.,job satisfaction, work performance). However, a model that focuses onindividual subjective reactions is, at best, incomplete if it does not in-

    clude an examination of the contextual factors that shape those percep-

    Address correspondence to Sally A. Carless, Psychology Department, Monash Univer-sity, PO Box 197, Caulfield East, Australia 3145. E-mail: [email protected].


    0889-3268/04/0600-0405/0 2004 Human Sciences Press, Inc.

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    tions (Seibert, Silver, & Sashkin, 2001). Authors on the topic of empow-erment have emphasised the importance of organisational environmentor context (Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Spreitzer, 1996, 1997; Thomas &Velthouse, 1990). However, there has been little research that has exam-ined the links between psychological climate and empowerment. Yet anunderstanding of the work context that facilitates empowerment hasimportant theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, suchknowledge would extend our understanding of the antecedents of em-powerment, in particular, the psychological appraisals of the work envi-ronment that are important determinants of empowerment. For thepractitioner, it provides concrete suggestions about the work place thatcan be targeted to develop feelings of empowerment. The main purpose

    of this study was to test a model that empowerment mediates the rela-tionship between psychological climate and job satisfaction.


    Two distinct, yet related theories of empowerment have been identi-fied (Hardy & Leiba-OSullivan, 1998; Spreitzer, 1997). These are therelational approach to empowerment and the motivational or psychologi-cal approach. The former approach is characterised by practices thatdecentralise power by involving employees in decision making. The moti-vational approach proposes that empowerment is a constellation of expe-rienced psychological states or cognitions (e.g., Spreitzer, 1995a; Thomas& Velthouse, 1990). The focus of this approach is on the employee percep-tions of their individual power to cope with the events, situations, andpeople they encounter at work (Stewart & Manz, 1997). The motivationalapproach puts less emphasis on delegation of power, instead advocatesopen communication, inspirational goal setting, and giving encourage-ment and feedback to increase commitment and involvement (Conger &Kanungo, 1988; Thomas & Velthouse). It is acknowledged that the twoapproaches are similar, although the motivational approach is broaderand maybe an outcome of the relational approach (Spreitzer, 1997).

    Building on the work of Conger and Kanungo (1988), Thomas andVelthouse (1990) developed a model of empowerment in which they pro-

    posed there are four psychological cognitions that contribute to enhancedintrinsic motivation. These are meaningfulness, competence, choice, andimpact. Using the Thomas and Velthouse model as a theoretical founda-tion, Spreitzer (1995a) extended and operationalised this model by devel-oping a scale to assess the four components of empowerment. Meaning-fulness was renamed meaning by Spreitzer, and choice was renamedself-determination. In the current study, Spreitzers terminology was

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    employed. The following is a description of current conceptualisations ofeach of these dimensions.

    Meaning involves a fit between the requirements of a work role andpersons beliefs, values and behaviours (Spreitzer, 1995a, 1996). It is con-sistent with Hackman and Oldhams (1980) job characteristic model thatproposes an individual feels a sense of meaning when an activitycounts in his or her value system. This creates a sense of caring abouta given task (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990, p. 672). Competence stemsfrom the work of Bandura (1977, 1986, 1989) on self-efficacy and is theindividuals belief in his or her capacity to competently perform a taskat work. Thus, the individual believes he or she has the required skillsand abilities and that he or she can perform the task competently. Self-

    determination is a sense of choice in initiating and regulating ones ac-tions. It reflects autonomy in the decision making processes about howand when tasks are undertaken. It is similar in meaning to Deci andRyans (1985) locus of causality. In contrast to competence, which reflectsan individuals beliefs about mastery of behaviour, self-determination re-flects a choice of behaviour. Impact is the extent an individual can influ-ence strategic, administrative, or operating outcomes at work. In otherwords, the extent of personal control over organisational outcomes or thebelief that one can make a difference at work.


    Psychological climate refers to how organisational environments areperceived and interpreted by their employees (James & James, 1989;James, James, & Ashe, 1990). James and James proposed that individualscognitively appraise their work environment with respect to work-relatedvalues. The appraisal is a reflection of the extent the organisational char-acteristics are important to the individual and his or her personal andorganisational well-being (James, et al., 1990). Thus, psychological climatereflects a judgement by the individual about the degree to which the workenvironment is beneficial to their sense of well-being.

    Psychological climate can be distinguished from organisational cli-mate (Rousseau, 1988) in that the latter represents a shared or summaryperception that people attach to organisational practices and character-

    istics of the work setting (Schneider & Reichers, 1983). Organisationalclimate is based on individual perceptions of the organisational features,events and processes. When consensus among individuals exists, the per-ceptions are aggregated to represent organisational climate (Ostroff,Kinicki, & Tamkins, 2003). The focus of this research was psychologicalclimate. Psychological climate is important because it is the individualemployees perceptions and evaluations of the work environment, rather

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    than the actual environment, that mediates attitudinal and behaviouralresponse (James & Jones, 1974; James, Hater, Gent, & Bruni, 1978;Johns, Xie, & Fang, 1992).

    Researchers have assessed an array of psychological climate dimen-sions, for example: work structure, role clarity, supportive management,teamwork, decision centralisation and leader goal facilitation (Brown &Leigh, 1996; James & James, 1989; Kozlowski & Dohery, 1989; Pritchard& Karasick, 1973). The approach taken in this study was based on thework of Hart, Wearing, Conn, Carter and Dingle (2000). Psychologicalclimate was conceptualised as a multidimensional construct consistingof seven dimensions: (a) role clarity, which is the degree work expecta-tions and responsibilities are clearly defined; (b) supportive leadership,

    that is, the extent supervisors support their staff; (c) participative deci-sion-making, reflects the degree employees are involved in decision mak-ing about workplace issues; (d) professional interaction, captures thequality of communication and support between employees; (e) appraisaland recognition, reflects the extent feedback and acknowledgement isgiven; (f) professional growth, is the extent skill development is encour-aged and supported; and, (g) goal congruence, is the degree of congruencebetween individual goals and those of the organisation. Evidence of thescales multidimensionality was provided by exploratory and confirma-tory factor analysis. A strength of the Hart et al.s approach is that itincludes the core dimensions of psychological climate that have been typ-ically identified in the literature (Kopelman, Brief, & Guzzo, 1990).


    Theories of empowerment propose that empowerment is directly in-fluenced by the work context (Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Lawler, 1992;Quinn & Spreitzer, 1997; Randolf, 1995; Spreitzer, 1996). These theoriesimply it is organisational climate that influences empowerment. An al-ternate approach is that it is individual perceptions and valuations ofthe work environment, in other words, psychological climate, that shapeempowerment cognitions. Stated simply, it is the degree to which indi-viduals interpret the work environment as personally beneficial versuspersonally detrimental that influences empowered feelings.

    The reasoning for expecting a relationship between psychological cli-mate and empowerment is based on job characteristics theory (Hackman& Oldham, 1980) and Thomas and Velthouses (1990) model of empower-ment. According to job characteristics theory, core job characteristics(e.g., using a variety of skills, receiving feedback) lead to three criticalpsychological states: experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsi-bility and knowledge of results. Each of these psychological states was

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    described as similar to cognitive task assessments that define empower-ment (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990): Impact was described as analogousto knowledge of results, Meaning as similar to experienced meaningful-ness, and Choice as parallel to experienced sense of responsibility.Thomas and Velthouse proposed that it is the individuals interpretativestyle or evaluations of environmental events that influences cognitivetask assessments that define empowerment. Thomas and Velthousesarguments are consonant with James and James (1974) theory that psy-chological climate is an individual rather than an organisational attri-bute, assessed in terms of perceptions that are meaningful to the individ-ual instead of descriptions of the environment. It is recognised that joband environmental characteristics may be identical for two individuals;

    however, their valuations associated with these attributes will differ re-liably according to individual differences (James & McIntyre, 1996).Hence, based on the aforementioned theories, it is expected that employ-ees appraisal and evaluations of the work environment will influencetheir perceptions of empowerment.

    Although, there has been a lack of research on the relationship be-tween psychological climate and empowerment, there have been a num-ber of studies on facets of psychological climate and empowerment. Evi-dence indicates that supportive climate enhances employee involvementin decision-making (Shadur, Kienzle, & Rodwell, 1999), supportive workrelationships are positively related to empowerment (Corsun & Enz,1999), change-orientated and supportive leadership is positively associ-ated with empowerment (Parker & Price, 1994), participative work cli-mate is a significant predictor of empowerment (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999;Spreitzer, 1996), and feedback is a significant predictor of the psychologi-cal state of meaningfulness (Johns, Xie, & Fang, 1992). Research bySpreitzer (1996) suggests that role ambiguity is a key contextual factorassociated with empowerment perceptions by middle managers (p. 497).Taken together, these studies provide indirect support for the hypothe-sised relationship between psychological climate and empowerment.


    Job satisfaction is typically defined as the feelings a person has

    about her or his job (Balzer, et al., 1997; Spector, 1997). It is an emo-tional state reflecting an affective response to the job situation. The jobcharacteristic model (Hackman & Oldham, 1980) proposed that criticalpsychological states (e.g., experienced meaningfulness, feelings of re-sponsibility, knowledge of results) influence job satisfaction. Models ofempowerment such as Thomas and Velthouses (1990) and Conger andKanungo (1988) did not explicitly include outcome variables. However,

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    in an extension of their model, Thomas and Tymon (1994) postulatedthat empowerment would accrue in higher levels of job satisfaction. Theystate Because the task assessments [i.e, the facets of empowerment]generate intrinsic rewards associated with the job, they should be posi-tively related to job satisfaction (p. 2).

    At the team level, Kirkman and Rosen (1999) found support for thenotion that empowerment is positively related to job satisfaction. Spreit-zer, et al. (1997) examined the relationship between empowerment andjob satisfaction in two samples: Sample 1 consisted of middle-level man-agers (N= 393) and Sample 2 was lower-level employees (N= 128). Inboth samples, Spreitzer and her colleagues found that meaning was thestrongest predictor of general job satisfaction, while impact was unrelated

    to job satisfaction. Ambiguous findings were reported on self-determina-tion and competence. The former was a significant predictor of managerjob satisfaction, but not lower-level employees, the reverse pattern offindings were reported for competence (it was unrelated to job satisfac-tion in Sample 1 and a significant predictor in Sample 2).

    Thomas and Tymon (1994) with a sample of employees from a re-search hospital, electronics firm and computer services (N= 164) re-ported that meaning, self-determination and impact were significantpredictors of general job satisfaction. Competence was unrelated to gen-eral job satisfaction. Liden, Wayne and Sparrowe (2000) investigated themediating effects of empowerment on the relationship between job char-acteristics and job satisfaction with a sample of 337 lower-level employ-ees of a large service organisation. Meaning and competence were foundto be significant mediating variables; self-determination and impactwere not. The one consistent finding across the three studies is thatmeaning is a significant predictor of job satisfaction; studies of the jobcharacteristic model have also noted a significant relationship betweenmeaningfulness and job satisfaction (Johns, Xie, & Fang, 1992). On theother hand, evidence about the relative importance of the empowermentfacets of competence, self-determination and impact is inconclusive.Thus, an aim of this study was to examine the relative influence of facetsof empowerment on general job satisfaction and present job satisfaction.

    Negative Affectivity

    The common theme among psychological climate, empowerment andjob satisfaction is that they represent the individuals psychological per-ceptions of work related issues. Hence, the most appropriate method ofassessment is self-report data. However, the use of self-report dataraises concerns that the relationships between the target variables are

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    inflated or biased due negative affectivity. Thus, in this study negativeaffectivity was controlled for.

    Negative affectivity refers to individuals differences in the disposi-tional tendency to experience negative emotionality and a negative self-concept (Watson & Clark, 1984). Individuals high on negative affectivityhave an overall negative orientation towards themselves and their workenvironment. It is generally agreed that the terms negative affectivityand neuroticism are conceptually very similar, if not equivalent (Burke,Brief, & George, 1993; Costa & McCrae, 1990; Watson & Clark).

    There has been considerable debate about the relative importance ofnegative affectivity in organisational behaviour research. Much of thedebate has centred on whether negative affect biases ratings of job atti-

    tudes or whether it has a substantive affect (Spector, Zapf, Chen, &Frese, 2000). The biasing argument proposes that negative affectivitydistorts self-ratings of work-related variables and tends to produce spuri-ous correlations. Thus, conclusions may be drawn that are not warranted(e.g., Brief, Burke, George, Robinson, & Webster, 1988). Thus, it hasbeen proposed that the effects of negative affectivity should be partialledout when assessing the relationship between organisational variablesand job attitudes (Brief, et al., 1988; Watson, Pennebaker, & Folger,1986).

    On the other hand, those who take the substantive perspective ar-gue that researchers should not control for the effects of negative affec-tivity (Spector, Fox, & van Katwyk, 1999; Spector et al., 2000; Spector,Chen, & OConnell, 2000). The view that negative affectivity has a sub-stantive effect recognises that negative affectivity may influence an indi-viduals job behaviour (e.g., by influencing job choice) or job attitudes(e.g., job satisfaction; for a discussion see Spector et al., 1999). AlthoughSpector and his colleagues (2000) argue the case against partialling outthe variance attributable to negative affectivity, they acknowledge thatit should be undertaken when testing a mediating hypothesis. Similarly,Chan (2000) recommends that negative affectivity should be includedwhen examining relationships among work attitudes.

    Together these findings suggest that it is important to include nega-tive affectivity in this study because: (a) an affective variable, viz, jobsatisfaction was examined; (b) psychological perceptions of the work en-vironment, namely psychological climate and empowerment were inves-

    tigated; and, (c) I wanted to explore the magnitude of the relationshipbetween psychological climate, empowerment and job satisfaction withand without negative affectivity controlled for. Taking this approach ad-dresses the call for research that teases out the relationship betweenjob characteristics, empowerment and job satisfaction (Spreitzer, 1996;Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). Thus, the main aim of this study was to

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    test the model that empowerment mediates the relationship betweenpsychological climate and job satisfaction. The tested model is shown inFigure 1. Consistent with the approach taken by Hart (1999) it was pro-posed that negative affectivity would influence psychological climate,empowerment and job satisfaction.


    Sample and Procedure

    Questionnaires were distributed to 280 customer service employees

    working in call centres and related administrative areas at two privatefinancial organisations and a public organisation in Australia. Call cen-tres can be found in an organisation that has a high volume of incomingand/or outgoing telephone calls. Individuals working in call centres areinvolved in telemarketing, providing customer information and sellinggoods or services. Questionnaires were sent to employees in the threeparticipating organisations informing them about the research and thatresponses were voluntary and anonymous. One hundred and seventy-four completed questionnaires were received (response rate 62%), ofthese, 102 were female (59%), 67 were male (39%) and the sex of fiverespondents was unknown. One hundred and thirty-one (75%) partici-

    Figure 1

    Model of Psychological Climate, Empowerment and Job Satisfaction

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    pants worked in call centres and 43 (25%) participants worked in relatedadministrative areas. The age range of participants was 18 to 59 yearswith a mean of 32 years (SD = 9.6 years). Eighty-nine per cent of partici-pants were in full time employment.


    Psychological climate was assessed by the generic version (Hart,Wearing, Griffin, & Cooper, 1996) of Hart, Wearing, Conn, Carter, andDingles (2000) climate scale. The scale has seven sub-scales: Role Clar-ity (4 item, = .76), Supportive Leadership (5 items, = .85), Participa-tive Decision-Making (3 items, = .67), Professional Interaction (7 items,

    = .84), Appraisal and Recognition (5 items, = .86), ProfessionalGrowth (5 items, = .78) and Goal Congruence (5 items, = .70). Theresponse format was a 5-point Likert scale with 1 representing stronglydisagree and 5 strongly agree. Evidence indicates the sub-scales havegood reliablity and correlate as expected with facets of job satisfaction(Hart, et al., 2000). Because perceptions of psychological climate includean affective component (Burke, Borucki, & Hurley, 1992), there has beendebate about the extent of overlap between psychological climate and jobsatisfaction and whether they are separate and distinct constructs(Glick, 1984; Parker, 1999; Payne & Pugh, 1976). An advantage of theHart et al. scale is that evidence indicates that the overlap between psy-chological climate and job satisfaction is modest. A sample item of eachsubscale is listed in the appendix.

    Empowerment was measured by a 12 item scale developed and vali-dated by Spreitzer (1995). The scale has 4 subscales: Meaning, Compe-tence, Impact and Self-Determination each of which have three items( = .92, .90, .84, .81, respectively). The response was a 7-point Likertscale with 1 representing strongly disagree and 7 strongly agree.

    Job Satisfaction has been conceptualised as a global construct whichrepresents general feelings about the job as a whole and a multidimen-sional construct that taps into feelings about particular aspects or facetsof the work (e.g., the work itself, promotion; Locke, 1976). It is arguedthat researchers should avoid using a single criterion and match thelevel of specificity with the specificity of the criterion to be predicted(Smith, 1976). Thus, in this study general job satisfaction was assessed,

    as well as the facet of satisfaction with the work itself. This was basedon the proposition that level of empowerment would be related to overallfeelings of job satisfaction, as well as, specific feelings about the intrinsicnature of the work, that is, satisfaction with the task activities, job au-tonomy and level of responsibility (Balzer, et al., 1997; Locke, 1976).

    Two scales from the Job Descriptive Index (JDI; Balzer et al., 1997)were used to measure job satisfaction: Work on Present Job (18 items,

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    = .92) and General Job Satisfaction (18 items, = .92). The formerscale assesses the extent the job is intrinsically satisfying and the laterassesses general job satisfaction. The response format is Y (Y), No (N)and undecided (?). Consistent with the recommendations of the au-thors, responses were assigned numeric values (Y= 3, N = 0, ? = 1). Gen-eral job satisfaction is a more global construct than job satisfaction thatreflects job-specific satisfaction. It is acknowledged there is considerableoverlap between the two constructs (Balzer et al,), however, because itis proposed that empowerment accrues in heightened intrinsic motiva-tion, I was interested in examining task- or job-specific motivation aswell as, general job satisfaction.

    Negative affectivity was assessed by the NEO-FFI neuroticism sub-

    scale (Costa & McCrae, 1992). This has 12 items and the response formatwas a 5-point Likert scale with 1 representing strongly disagree and 5strongly agree. High scores indicate low levels of neuroticism.

    Missing Data. In order to maximise the number of cases the EM proce-dure for replacing missing data was used. This procedure involves esti-mating the mean, the covariance matrix and the correlation of variableswith missing data using an iterative process (SPSSX Version 10). Thenumber of missing data for each variable was small (range 15).


    Measurement ModelAMOS 4.0 (Arbuckle & Wothke, 1999) confirmatory factor analysis

    (CFA) was used to examine the fit of a four model to the 12 empower-ment items, the method of estimation was maximum likelihood. Thegoodness-of-fit statistics indicated the model was a good fit to the data:2 = 100.93, d.f. = 48, p < .05; standardised root mean square residual(SRMR) = .09; root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) = .08;the Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) = .95 and the comparative fit index (CFI)was .96. Consistent with the findings of Spreitzer (1995) the fit of a sec-ond order CFA was estimated. The goodness of fit indices indicated thatthe higher order model was also an adequate fit to the data ( 2 = 132.86,d.f. = 51, p > .05, SRMR = .10, RMSEA= .10, TLI = .92, CFI = .94). In or-

    der to minimise the number of indicators in the tested model, sub-scalescores were used in subsequent analyses.A one factor congeneric model was used to examine the reliability of

    the 12 items used to measure negative affectivity. The findings indicatedthe fit was poor (2 = 197.25, d.f. = 54, p < .05, SRMR = .10, RMSEA= .12,TLI = .74, CFI = .79). In order to improve the scale, items with squaredmultiple correlations less than .40 were iteratively removed. The final

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    scale consisted of four items ( = .82). The goodness of fit statistics indi-cated an excellent fit to the data (2 = .525, d.f. = 2, p > .05, SRMR = .01,RMSEA= 0, TLI = 1.0, CFI = 1.0). The correlation between the 12 itemscale and the revised 4 item scale was .88 ( p < .000), this suggests thatthe revised scale substantially retains the original meaning of the con-struct.

    The findings indicated that the average intercorrelation between thefacets of psychological climate was reasonably high (r = .61, SD = .06).James and James (1989) proposed that all emotionally relevant cogni-tions of work environment reflect a single higher order schema or factor.Thus, consistent with current conceptualisations and empirical evidence,the fit of a higher order psychological climate construct was examined

    (Brown & Leigh, 1996; James & James, 1989; Leigh, Lucus, & Woodman,1988). Due to the large number of items used to measure the variables,subscale scores served as indicators of the latent constructs. The findingsindicated that the higher order model was a good fit to the data (2 =38.01, d.f. = 14, p < .001, SRMR = .04, RMSEA= .10, TLI = .99, CFI =.99). The correlation between general job satisfaction and present jobsatisfaction was high (r = .78), thus, subscale scores was used as indica-tors of the job satisfaction latent construct in the tested model.

    Prior to testing the hypothesised model CFA was undertaken todemonstrate that negative affectivity, psychological climate, empower-ment and job satisfaction are independent constructs. The fit statisticsof a four factor model indicated the model was a good fit to the observeddata: 2 = 253.04, d.f. = 113, p > .05, SRMR = .07, RMSEA= .09, TLI =.98, CFI = .98). The fit of a 4 factor model was compared with a one factormodel, the chi-square difference test indicated that the fit of a 4 factormodel was a better fit (2diff = 377.07, d.f.diff = 6, p < .001). This conclusionwas supported by the SRMR, RMSEA, TLI and the CFI. The estimatedcorrelations between the latent variables are presented in Table 1.

    Tested Model

    The fit of the hypothesised model was (2 = 253.19, d.f. = 114, p >.05, SRMR = .07, RMSEA= .08, TLI = .90, CFI = .91). The goodness of fit

    Table 1

    Estimated Correlations Between the Latent Constructs

    Negative Affectivity Psychological Climate Empowerment

    Negative affectivityPsychological climate .44Empowerment .37 .68Job satisfaction .43 .60 .88

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    indices indicates the model is a good fit to the data. Standardised pathcoefficients are reported in Figure 2. With the exception of two pathways(negative affectivity-empowerment, negative affectivity-job satisfaction),all of the hypothesised paths are statistically significant. It can be seenthat psychological climate has a strong positive influence on empower-ment, which in turn, has a strong, positive impact on job satisfaction.The squared multiple correlations indicate that a high proportion of thevariance of job satisfaction (77%) is explained by negative affectivity,psychological climate and empowerment.

    Although negative affectivity has a moderately strong negative in-fluence on psychological climate perceptions, it has no direct impact onempowerment and job satisfaction. However, the standardised indirect

    effects indicate that negative affectivity has a modest indirect influenceon empowerment (.27) and job satisfaction (.30). Following the recom-mendations of Holmbeck (1997) in order to test the mediating effects ofempowerment on the psychological climate-job satisfaction relationshipa direct pathway from psychological climate to job satisfaction wasadded. The results indicated the pathway was not significant and didnot improve the fit of the tested model (2diff = .15, d.f.diff = 1, p > .50). Be-cause the pathway was not significant the recommended next step ofconstraining the pathway to zero was unnecessary. Thus the findingsindicate that the relationship between psychological climate and job sat-isfaction is completely mediated by empowerment.

    The next step was to assess the impact of the inclusion of negativeaffectivity in the model. Following the procedures of Williams, Gavin,and Williams (1996) and Munz, Huelsman, Konald and McKinney(1996), three models were estimated. First, a model without negativeaffectivity in the model was estimated (Model 1). Second, a model withnegative affectivity in the model was estimated (Model 2; i.e, the testedmodel). Third, the paths in Model 2 were constrained with the valuesobtained in Model 1 (Model 3). The fit of Model 3 was: 2 = 304.62, d.f. =116, p > .05, SRMR = .09, RMSEA= .10, TLI = .86, CFI = .88. A compari-son of Models 2 and 3 showed that there was a significant difference(2diff = 51.43, d.f.diff = 2, p > .001, SRMR .02, RMSEA= .02, TLI = .04,CFI = .03). This suggests that the including negative affectivity in themodel has a significant effect on the path coefficients, albeit, the changein values was small (psychological climate empowerment = .68; em-


    job satisfaction =

    .88).In order to examine the relative influence of empowerment facetson job satisfaction multiple regression analyses were undertaken. Thedependent variables were general job satisfaction and satisfaction withthe present job. The advantage of this procedure is that it provides amore fine grained analysis of the specific components of empowermentthat are important. The results are presented in Table 2. It can be seen

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    Table 2

    Negative Affectivity, Climate, and Empowerment Facets Regressed

    on Job Satisfaction

    Present Job Satisfaction General Job

    Negative affectivity .15** .20**Psychological climate .10 .16*Meaning .48*** .46***Competence .16** .14*Self determination .13 .09Impact .24*** .11

    R2 .58 .50F 38.48*** 27.70***

    Standardised beta coefficients; *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001.

    that general and present job satisfaction are significantly related tomeaning ( = .46, t = 6.83, p < .001, = .48, t = 7.77 p < .001 respectively)and competence ( = .14, t = 2.15, p < .05, = .16, t = 2.77 p < .01 re-spectively). The negative beta coefficients of competence suggests this isa suppressor variable. Cohen and Cohen (1983) advise that in generalsuppressor effects are difficult to interpret, thus I chose not to speculateabout the relationship between competence and job satisfaction. Impactwas also a significant predictor of present job satisfaction ( = .24, t =3.84, p < .001), but not general job satisfaction. Self-determination wasunrelated to job satisfaction.


    The main aim of this study was to examine the hypothesised modelthat empowerment mediates the relationship between psychological cli-mate and job satisfaction. The results clearly demonstrate that employeeperceptions of their work environment directly influence their percep-tions of empowerment which in turn, influence their level of job satisfac-tion. These findings provide empirical support for the proposition thatenvironmental variables influence intrinsic task motivation (Conger &

    Kanungo, 1988; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). There has been limited re-search on the antecedents of empowerment. This study shows that em-ployee perceptions of key aspects of the work psychological climate, forexample, leadership style, interpersonal relationships, opportunities forprofessional development, and individual-organisational goal congru-ence, has a strong influence on empowerment perceptions and an indi-rect influence on job satisfaction mediated by empowerment.

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    More detailed examination of the facets of empowerment indicatedthat meaning and competence were the significant predictors of job satis-faction. The findings on impact were ambiguous, it was found to be asignificant predictor of present job satisfaction, but not general job satis-faction. These findings concur with the work of Liden, Wayne and Spar-rowe (2000) with a sample of American employees. Specifically, Lidenand his colleagues found that meaning and competence mediated therelationship between job characteristics and present job satisfaction (theauthors used the same measure as the current study).

    Of the four components of empowerment, a consistent finding hasbeen that meaning is a significant predictor of job satisfaction (Johns, etal., 1992; Liden, et al., 2000; Spreitzer et al., 1997; Thomas & Tymon,

    1994). It suggests that individuals who find the work they perform con-sistent with their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours are more likely to behappy in their job. Meaningful work is one of three mediating variablesproposed by Hackman and Oldham (1980) in their job characteristicmodel and is consistent with theories of person-environment fit, that con-gruence between an individuals values and attitudes and those of thejob will accrue in job satisfaction (e.g., Dawis & Lofquist, 1984; Holland,1985, 1992, 1997). In addition, the results suggest that employees whobelieve they can competently perform their work are also likely to experi-ence enjoyment at work. It is unclear whether individual perceptions ofcontrol at work (i.e., impact) influence job satisfaction.

    A feature of this study was the inclusion of negative affectivity.These findings showed that those individuals with a negative outlookwere more likely to negatively evaluate their work climate. However,contrary to expectations, negative affectivity was not found to directlyinfluence empowerment or job satisfaction. Rather, negative affectivityindirectly influenced the latter variables via psychological climate per-ceptions. Hart (1999) reported a similar finding. Specifically, he foundthat negative affectivity directly influenced perceptions of hassles, butnot job and nonwork satisfaction. A significant aspect of this study wasthat I was able to show that the magnitude of the relationships betweenpsychological climate-empowerment-job satisfaction hardly changed with-out negative affectivity in the tested model.

    Limitations and Future Research

    There are several important limitations of this study that need to beacknowledged. First, the data was entirely self-report data. This createsthe potential problem of common method variance in the variables exam-ined. On the other hand, I was able to show that the constructs examinedwere separate constructs. The second issue is that the design was cross-sectional. Thus although the hypothesised model was consistent with ex-

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    isting theoretical models, the causal direction cannot be determined. Itis also possible that alternate models may explain the data. For example,Thomas and Velthouse (1990) propose a cyclical model in which overtime empowered individuals affect their environment. Models incorport-ing the possibility of reciprocal relationships over time are best answeredby a longitudinal research design. Most of the research on empowermenthas been with private sector organisations and with a limited range oforganisational settings. There is a need for research on empowerment inpublic sector organisations, as well as, a broader range of industries.

    The findings of this study suggest that having a sense of responsibil-ity or autonomy (i.e., self-determination) did not mediate the relation-ship between psychological climate and job satisfaction. Ambiguous find-

    ings have been reported about self-determination. Some have found itinfluences job satisfaction (e.g., Spreitzer, et al., 1997, Sample 1; Thomas& Tymon, 1994), while others have found it unrelated (Liden et al., 2000;Spreitzer, et al., 1997, Sample 2). It is possible that self-determinationmay be an important antecedent of outcomes other than job satisfaction,for example, creativity, (Deci & Ryan, 1985), growth satisfaction (Fried& Ferris, 1987) or organisational citizenship behaviour (Menon, 2001).This line of reasoning follows from research on the job characteristicsmodel by Johns, Xie, and Fang (1992). Based on their research findings,Johns and his colleagues conclude that each of the psychological statesof the job characteristics model has a significant role as a predictor ofspecific outcomes. It would be interesting to explore alternate outcomesassociated with self-determination.

    Practical Implications

    Thomas and Velthouse (1990) postulate that there are two ways ofincreasing psychological empowerment. One is to change the employeesthinking processes, in other words, the way they interpret the environ-ment, the other is change the environment or psychological climate.These findings provide a number of levers of change that organisationscan undertake to enhance job motivation and job satisfaction. First, atthe individual level, managers can ensure that employees have a clearunderstanding of the scope of their job and responsibilities, articulatethe overlap between organisational goals and individual goals, demon-

    strate support for employees and encourage participative decision mak-ing. At the organisational level, human resource departments can alsoensure that employees have access to suitable professional developmentprograms. In addition, managers should have access to training in appro-priate behaviours, such as participative decision making and supportiveleader behaviour.

    In conclusion, this study has shown that that empowerment medi-

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    ates the relationship between psychological climate and job satisfactionand that meaning and competence were the dominant facets of empower-ment that were important. Ambiguous findings were reported on the rel-ative importance of impact as a mediator of the psychological climate-satisfaction relationship, on the other hand, self-determination was notimportant. Further research is called for on the specific outcomes associ-ated with facets of empowerment.

    APPENDIX: SAMPLE ITEMS OF ORGANISATIONAL CLIMATE(See Hart et al., 2000, for the full scale.)

    Role clarity I am always clear about what others expect of meSupportive There is support from the supervisors in this work

    leadership placeParticipative There are forums in this workplace where I can

    decision- express my views and opinionsmaking

    Professional There is good communication between groups ininteraction this workplace

    Appraisal and I am encouraged in my work by praise, thanks orrecognition other recognition

    Professional Others in this workplace take an active interest in

    growth my career development and professional growthGoal congru- The staff are committed to the work places goalsence and values


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