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Antecedents and outcomes of employee empowerment practices: A theoretical extension with empirical evidence

Abstract Despite being often touted as a best practice to enhance organisational performance, in reality, employee empowerment practices have not been widely adopted. This paper combines transaction cost economics with organisational behaviour and resource‐based views to examine antecedents and outcomes of empowerment practices, from both cost‐efficiency and value‐creation perspectives. On the basis of a study of 99 multinational subsidiaries in China, we found that human asset specificity, a key characteristic of employee–employer exchange, related significantly to organisations' adoption of empowerment practices. We also found that empowerment practices had a positive impact on organisational performance, and they mediated the relationship between human asset specificity and performance. In addition, results showed that task interdependence strengthened the impact of empowerment practices on performance outcome. The paper contributes to research on empowerment practices by offering a theoretically more comprehensive and balanced analysis of why and when empowerment is good for performance, with the support of empirical evidence.

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