Taking a Closer Look at the Empowerment‐Performance Relationship: Evidence from Law Enforcement Organizations

Date01 May 2019
Published date01 May 2019
Taking a Closer Look at the Empowerment-Performance Relationship: Evidence from Law Enforcement Organizations 427
Shahidul Hassan
The Ohio State University
Jongsoo Park
Korea University
Jos C. N. Raadschelders
The Ohio State University
Taking a Closer Look at the Empowerment-Performance
Relationship: Evidence from Law Enforcement Organizations
Jos C. N. Raadschelders is professor
of public administration and associate dean
in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs
at The Ohio State University. He served as
managing editor of
Public Administration
from 2006 to 2011.
E-mail: raadschelders.1@osu.edu
Shahidul Hassan is associate professor
of public management and leadership in
the John Glenn College of Public Affairs
at The Ohio State University. His research
focuses on leadership practices in public
and nonprofit organizations.
E-mail: hassan.125@osu.edu
Jongsoo Park is assistant professor
in the Graduate School of Public
Administration, Korea University,
Sejong, Korea. His research interests
include diversity in the workplace and
leadership and work environment in public
E-mail: parkj1@korea.ac.kr
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 3, pp. 427–438. © 2018 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12978.
Abstract: This article examines the influence of empowering leadership practices on police officers’ job performance,
perceptions of managerial effectiveness, and unit performance. These relationships are examined using multisource
survey data collected from 100 law enforcement managers, 446 of their subordinates, and 98 of their direct
supervisors. The analysis shows that empowering leadership contributes positively to subordinate officers’ job
performance and unit effectiveness. Empowering leadership is also positively associated with subordinate but not with
supervisor ratings of managerial effectiveness. Task-oriented leadership, however, is positively associated with both
subordinate and supervisor ratings of managerial effectiveness. Implications of these results for managerial leadership
in law enforcement organizations are discussed.
Evidence for Practice
• Empowering leadership practices motivate police officers to perform their work more proficiently and
conscientiously. Empowering leadership practices also contribute positively to the effectiveness of work units
in police organizations.
• Subordinate police officers consider their managers more effective when the managers engage in empowering
leadership, whereas both subordinates and supervisors consider the managers more effective when the
managers engage in task-oriented leadership.
• Managers in law enforcement organizations should try to strike a balance between exercising empowering
and task-oriented leadership and carefully allow subordinate police officers to exercise discretion to carry out
their tasks and work activities.
Identifying ways that public managers can
improve the productivity of employees and
the performance of their organizations has
been an enduring theme in public administration
research (Behn 1991). Scholarly discussion gained
momentum with the “reinventing government”
initiative in the 1990s, which emphasized the
adoption of market-oriented reforms and innovative
management techniques (Gore 1993; Hood 1991;
Kettl 2005; Osborne and Gaebler 1992). In the
ensuing discussion and debate over the last two
decades, empowerment has emerged as a guiding
principle for improving the delivery of public services
and the performance of public employees and
organizations (Lynn 1998; Peters 1996; Petter et al.
2002; Wise 2002).
The benefits of empowerment have also been
examined in many prior studies showing that
empowering practices can improve public
employees’ job satisfaction, organizational
commitment, and intention to continue working
in their organization (Fernandez and Moldogaziev
2013a, 2015; Hassan et al. 2013; Kim and
Fernandez 2017; Peters and Savoie 1996; Petter et
al. 2002). Additionally, Langbein (2000) finds a
positive connection between employee discretion,
an indicator of empowerment, and perceptions
of organizational performance. Fernandez and
Moldogaziev (2011) show a positive relationship
between empowerment and federal employees’
perceptions of their work group’s performance. In
a subsequent study, they aggregate individual-level
survey data and confirm this relationship at the
agency level (Fernandez and Moldogaziev 2013a).
Several studies also report a positive connection
between empowerment and prosocial and
organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) among
public employees (Cho and Faerman 2010; Park and
Hassan 2018; Taylor 2013).
The aforementioned studies have provided valuable
insights. However, the majority of these studies relied
on same-source survey data to assess the relationships
between empowering managerial practices and
public employee, work group, and organizational
Research Article

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