عواقب و محدودیت های توانمندسازی در خدمات مالی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|5294||2003||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 19, Issue 1, March 2003, Pages 63–83
Empowerment may be one of the answers to the growing competition and increasingly demanding customers in the financial retail sector, but the relation between empowerment and profit-oriented behaviour at the service encounter has been only sparsely documented. This article offers a comparative empirical analysis of the conditions and impact of empowerment and related activities in Danish financial institutions, with a focus on semi-standardised front-line jobs. The results indicate that granting decision-making authority and autonomy to the individual front-line employees has often been a powerful step in the efforts of the financial service companies to increase their competitiveness. In the change process, formal participation has only a moderate supportive impact on performance while changes initiated at the branch offices and the linking of rewards with performance, both have a notably positive impact on the competitiveness and profit-oriented behaviour of front-line employees.
Despite a general trend towards delegation and empowerment in service companies, there is still some uncertainty about the impact of empowerment, and even about what it actually consists of (Bowen & Lawler, 1995a (1995a) and Bowen & Lawler (1995b)). In the prescriptive literature of human resource management, this popular term has been used rather loosely (Wilkinson, 1998), and researchers have not reached any general agreement on its content. However, it has long been recognised that empowerment is more than a simple managerial technique for delegation (Conger & Kanungo, 1988). As a motivational construct it also represents a complicated process, and in analysing its effects on performance in financial services, sufficient attention should be paid to the context in which the empowerment occurs. In our approach we stress that the employees’ power to make decisions during the service encounter is at the core of empowerment. But empowerment is also a change process involving the participation of front-line employees, and its impact cannot be understood unless it is regarded as a change in the formal authority and in the state of mind. Several managerial initiatives such as the application of rules, the formulation of quality measures, and training activities are included in our analysis, in order to establish the connection between empowerment and performance indicators. The main purpose of the paper is to explore the impact on performance in a comparative analysis based on the perceptions of front-line employees in financial service companies in Denmark, using both survey data and interviews. Special attention is attached to the question of whether empowerment merely fosters friendliness and service quality, or whether it can be related to a type of profit-oriented behaviour that would be more challenging to the norms prevailing among employees in financial branch offices. Thus, it is a central point in recent prescriptive literature that quality at the service encounter does pay and that a ‘service profit chain’ can be identified in which employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to customer retention and profit (Heskett, Sasser, & Schlesinger, 1997). The evidence and conditions of such relationships form the point of departure for our analysis, since this focuses on a part of the service profit chain. Is it possible to establish the linkage between the formal core of empowerment and the delivery of competitive service in financial service companies? Does empowerment make employees feel able to produce results for customers—or would a production-line approach be just as good (Bowen & Lawler, 1995a; Bowen & Youngdahl, 1998)? Employees enjoying appropriate decision-making power will probably provide a better quality of service (Flohr Nielsen & Høst, 2000), but are such initiatives also linked to profit-oriented behaviour? Our results indicate that granting decision-making authority and autonomy to the individual front-line employees is a powerful ingredient in the financial service retailers’ efforts to be competitive, but that training and guidelines concerning service encounters appear to offer a high degree of support. In the process of change, the participation in itself is less likely to foster the intended change. In particular, changes initiated in the branch offices did seem to have a positive impact on the competitiveness and profit-oriented behaviour of front-line employees.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our findings from the financial service sector support the general argument that empowerment in the form of the delegation of more formal authority to the employee does have a positive impact on service quality and profit orientation, at least to a certain degree of empowerment. Further, guidelines and techniques such as Total Quality Management, customer segmentation and other programmes based on management-defined performance goals may reinforce the positive impact of empowerment on performance. Entrepreneurial branch managers may also have a considerable impact, while participation in the form of formal committees seems unimportant. Thus, bureaucracy of an enabling character (Adler & Borys, 1996) does not seem to counteract the internal commitment connected with empowerment. Even extrinsic rewards can be supportive. In this sector at least, with its semi-professional and routine tasks, our findings seem to accord with the argument presented in Ledford and Lawler (1994), namely that educational support and appropriate reward systems provide the conditions for successful participative endeavours. Empowerment may not merely be the best approach when a service firm wants to establish a relationship with its customers (Bowen & Lawler, 1992). It may also be profitable. Delegating formal authority and enriching the front-line jobs seem to be the important antecedents if management initiatives should result in improved service quality at ‘bureaucratic encounters’ (Flohr Nielsen & Høst, 2000) as well as in profit-oriented behaviour. In explaining profit orientation, delegation on its own is not sufficient and supplementing factors become more important. Our study suggests that an important task for practitioners is to find ways of providing branches with sufficient information to control their own operations. This calls for better information services provided from the central offices, and a better use of customer and employee surveys. This last point in particular, which is related to the ‘upward problem-solving’ aspect of empowerment (Wilkinson, 1998), deserves more attention. Further, establishing links between reward systems and performance seems to be an important step in overcoming the barriers to market orientation, but the pitfall may be that sales rather than profit are rewarded, due for instance to the absence of appropriate measurement systems (Brubakk & Wilkinson, 1996; Flohr Nielsen et al., 1999). In future research a more rigorous testing of our model would be possible in the financial service sector, because of the rare opportunities of comparative analysis. International comparisons can be included. However, although the present study is limited to organisations within a single country, the findings are hardly specific to this particular Scandinavian context, with its extensive branch network. Empowerment is closely related to global managerial intentions regarding support for task performance and market orientation. Even in the different contexts of the USA and Scandinavia, companies seems to follow similar patterns when it comes to market orientation (Selnes, Jaworski, & Kohli, 1996). In future front-line employees will be facing a further challenge in this process: they will have to act within limits set by customer demands for personal advice and low-cost transactions combined with the more widespread use of highly developed self-service and information technology. To cope with these challenges, the technology of empowerment will probably also have to be developed further.