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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Performance empowerment and gender Reynolds, Catherine Maria


The increasing diversity of today’s workplace has led many organizations and individuals to question the necessity for the stereotype of effective managers to be dominant, aggressive and ‘masculine’. This has been reflected in the research conducted on men and women in management in the past twenty five years. Along with this diversification of the workplace has been the rapid growth in popularity of ‘empowerment’. This term, although frequently used by organizations and researchers alike, is also somewhat unclear. In addition, there is little empirical work on the relationship of empowerment to men and women in the workplace, especially as managers. This study includes an examination of the performance of men and women on managerial tasks, and in response to an empowerment manipulation. 135 graduate business students participated in a series of managerial simulation in-basket exercises, in which were embedded an empowerment manipulation. The empowerment treatment consisted of increased information, responsibility and active belief, whereas the disempowerment treatment consisted of decreased levels of these factors. The analyses showed that there was a main effect by treatment group on job performance, with control group participants having significantly higher total performance than the disempowered and empowered groups. There was also a significant main effect for the sex of an individual, with the female participants scoring significantly higher than the male participants. In addition, the test conducted indicated that there was no significant interaction between treatment group and sex. Several possible explanations are offered for these results, and implications as well as directions for future research are discussed.

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