Empowerment: through the smoke and past the mirrors?
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This paper offers a five-fold typology for empowerment, which is intended to make it easier to assess and develop empowerment initiatives in a climate where much rhetoric surrounds the term. A real-world organizational sketch for each type follows an initial theoretical description and aphorism. The implications for HRD practitioners of each type of empowerment are also outlined. No exclusive or definitional treatment is offered for what we feel to be an elastic term. Instead, the framework is held up as a potential catalyst for provoking ideas about empowerment, or grouping existing ideas on how to empower. We sympathize with those who feel the term is redundant because it has been subsumed by the 'developmental rhetoric' (Clutterbuck 1998), and recognize that such rhetoric can be a barrier to change and learning (Harrison 1997). Nonetheless, we argue that, instead of abandoning the term empowerment altogether, it can be beneficial to see what has been accomplished under the existing banner.
Human Resource Development International
© 2002 Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Human Resource Development International, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2002, Pages 119-130. Human Resource Development International is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com with the open URL of your article.