What is employee empowerment and how significant is it for the management of people at work?

What is employee empowerment and how significant is it for the management of people at work?  How did the related workshops on empowerment (the P&O AND Investigative Theatre Workshops) help you to appreciate the challenges and difficulties of managing empowerment initiatives in practice?

Important: The essay you submit should reflect your own independent, critical and self-reflective learning.  Each submission will be checked using anti-plagiarism software.


The second topic encourages you to take the process of self-reflection beyond the lectures and your reading of relevant literature to consider and explain how your understanding of empowerment was influenced, enhanced or developed through your experience with the P&O Workshops and also the Communities of Practice in your Theatre Workshops with Stephanie Knight.

Your group exploration of the management issues raised by the nurse empowerment case offered practical opportunities to develop your understanding and to experience some of the challenges and tensions associated with progressive change at work.


Initially, in the P&O Workshop, your group collectively adopted the role of consultants – first analysing the context in which work was managed and conducted, then going on to suggest improvements that could enhance quality, flexibility and responsiveness.  Thereafter, with the Theatre Workshops, you developed a more extensive comparative dialogue about reflections and reactions within the hospital, with a view to exploring how these may be addressed and whether the empowerment project should be continued.


Critical theories of empowerment also informed the development and ambitions of your Communities of Practice in the Theatre Workshops.  Hence, for the second part of the essay, you may wish to consider how their working relationships were formed and negotiated, rather than concentrate on the content or themes they developed. The work of Etienne Wenger and Donald Schön could be referenced as texts which inform both self-reflective practice and the forming of a Community of Practice, and with this particular focus the Contract of the Community of Practice may be used to illustrate emerging processes of agreement, understanding or empowerment, for example.

The ability to develop links between your workshop experiences and the literature on empowerment and to offer an obviously reflective analysis of your own learning process will be essential for achieving a strong grade from topic 2.  This essay should include a thoughtful and inquiring account of your learning experience in the workshops and, additionally, what they contributed to your understanding of empowerment.

General information:

Whatever lines of analysis, argument or evaluation you develop, the essay must have transparent links to relevant themes, concepts and debates covered in class, and should communicate your own individual interpretation of their significance.   Be sure to provide sufficient justification for the points you make and illustrate or support your evaluations with convincing detail. 

Chapters 2 and 7 of Rhetoric and the Politics of Workplace Innovation, offer insights into the logic behind the workshops, and chapters 2 and 6 also cover potentially relevant material, depending upon the approach you take.

Some of the following sources may also be worth a look:

Beirne and Knight (2004) ‘From Community Theatre to Critical Management Studies: A Dramatic Contribution to Reflective learning?’ Management Learning, 38: 4, pp. 353-69.

Beirne, M., and S. Knight (2004), ‘The Art of Reflective Management: Dramatic Insights from Scottish Community Theatre’, The International Journal of Arts Management, 6 (2), 33 – 43

Meisiek, S. (2002) ‘Situation Drama in Change Management: Types and Effects of a New Managerial Tool’, International Journal of Arts Management, 4, pp. 48-55.

Schon, D. (1983), The Reflective Practitioner, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Basic Books.

Schön, Donald A. (1987) Educating the Reflective Practitioner, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

Adler, N. (2006) ‘The Arts and Leadership’, Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5: 4, pp.486-499.

Schein, E. (2013) ’The Role of Art and the Artist’, Organizational Aesthetics, 2: 2, pp 1-4.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press: New York