Volume 8 • Number 2
Empowerment in Total Quality: Designing and Implementing
Effective Employee Decision-Making Strategies
by Zoe S. Dimitriades, University of Piraeus
The barrage of changes outside and inside contemporary
business organizations adopting total quality management
(TQM) principles has resulted in a trend toward the empowerment
of their employees. This development means that employees,
usually working in teams, are now given the responsibility
and authority to make quality improvement decisions that
can enhance the satisfaction of internal and external customers.
This extension of traditional job roles necessitates a clear
understanding of what employee empowerment actually is,
and how it can be managed effectively. In this paper an
attempt is made to provide a conceptual definition of empowerment
and to offer an implementation strategy for TQM managers.
Keywords: employee involvement, human resource management,
participative management, total quality management
Dramatic changes in work organization have taken place in
the past decade. Traditional hierarchies and functional structures
are being reduced. Downsizing and delayering are common practice.
At the same time, increasing emphasis is being placed on enhanced
employee involvement, team decision making, and various partnership
arrangements. Behind these changes is the enormous challenge
of new competition arising from globalization, deregulation,
and technological advances, which is forcing business organizations
to be more responsive to customers (Fonda and Rowland 1995).
To achieve this challenging goal, quality organizations must
develop more effective decision-making strategies via employee