|dc.description.abstract||Employee empowerment is a western-centric management philosophy which is commonly perceived as an effective means to boost service quality and operational productivity in the context of the hotel industry. However, the most effective methods for empowering hotel employees in different cultures and contexts are still debatable. This study explores empowerment within the insufficiently researched setting of East Malaysia. Specifically, this study examines the concept of empowerment from the perspective of hotel employees. This study also assesses empowerment practices and the perceived risks of empowerment and their relation to employee empowerment.
From a pragmatist worldview, an exploratory sequential mixed-methods approach was employed by performing an exploratory qualitative data collection and, subsequently, a quantitative study that surveyed hotel employees in East Malaysia.
For the qualitative study phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty hotel employees from different hierarchical positions and departments from various four and five star-rated hotels. The objective was to explore the notion of empowerment specific to the East Malaysia context and then to explore the empowerment practices and the perceived risk of empowerment. The qualitative findings reveal that employees perceived relevant information, formal power, and the empowering leader’s role as significant dimensions of empowerment practices. The qualitative findings also uncover the elements of the perceived risk of empowerment (perceived financial, time, and social risk) to enrich the employee empowerment framework.
After integrating the findings from the qualitative study phase, the research framework, and hypotheses, a survey instrument was designed to assess the notion of empowerment and the relationship between empowerment practices, the perceived risk of empowerment and employee empowerment. A questionnaire was distributed to hotel employees of luxury hotels in East Malaysia, and the data (250 responses) analysed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) and SmartPLS for Partial Least Square-Structured Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM). The results show that many (42.4%) of the participants view empowerment as involving power and control and extra responsibilities, while 21.2% of the participants see empowerment as a delegation of authority that enables them to make decisions. Two other definitions of empowerment, as a career motivation tool and a managerial term to add workload, recorded 10.8% and 13.2% respectively, while 12.4% of participants were not sure of the meaning of the term. Employees’ view of empowerment varies based on their position in the organisation. Almost half of the entry-level employees view empowerment as power and control. Those at the supervisor level tend to perceive empowerment as a career development tool while higher managerial levels view empowerment as a delegation of authority.
The findings of this study expand the Western notion of employee empowerment by taking into account the East-Malaysia high-power distance culture which influences hotel employees’ perception of empowerment. This study also explores the perceived risk of empowerment concept by suggesting that financial, time and social risks mediate the relationship between empowerment practices and employee empowerment.
Theoretically, this study has designed and tested the concept of the perceived risk of empowerment which distinguishes this research from existing knowledge. This study has developed an empowerment framework specifically for hotels in East Malaysia which could also be of value to hotels and human resource managers when assessing the value of empowerment strategies across various cultural environments similar to that of East Malaysia.
The limitations of this study and potential future research opportunities are discussed.||