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Dissertation Abstract

A Dissertation - An Examination of the Relationship Between Leadership Style and Empowerment

Wendell Seaborne
Regent University

This dissertation investigates the relationship between the balance of leadership styles held by a manager as defined by Bolman and Deal's four-frame view and the perceived empowerment of employees and workgroups reporting to that manager. It also addresses the issues surrounding the meaning and application of empowerment, especially along the five facets identified by Cameron and Whetten. Specifically, this study examined whether individuals or groups who perceive that their leader holds a fully balanced leadership style report a higher level of empowerment than individuals who perceive their leader to have either a moderately balanced or an unbalanced leadership style. It further examined whether individuals reporting to a leader holding a moderately balanced leadership style perceived empowerment to a higher level than individuals that perceive their leader as holding an unbalanced style. This study builds on prior research in both its design and its measurements, including the instruments used. The results are that individuals reporting to unbalanced leaders do report a significant difference in empowerment. Those employees reporting to either balanced or moderately balanced leaders do not report any significant difference in empowerment. The study also examined aspects of work settings, as defined by Karesek, to determine which relate positively and which relate negatively with empowerment. The results within this study are that decision authority plays a critical role in employees' perception of empowerment, while finding other environmental covariates not strongly correlated to empowerment. The study also assessed the moderating effects of turbulence in the organization's environment on the leadership style and empowerment.