n South African Journal of Labour Relations - The conceptualisation of psychological empowerment in a South African work context

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



The aim of this study was to conceptualise psychological empowerment as experienced by employees in a South African work context. The qualitative design consisted of semi-structured interviews with 20 employees from different sectors. A phenomenological approach was followed to explore the authentic psychological experiences of employees in the present sociopolitical environment. Through content analysis, the study found dimensions of psychological empowerment and characteristics of empowered employees that are similar to those found by leading authors and researchers on the subject, but with some aspects that are unique given the present South African context. Dimensions and characteristics that emerged from the study were resilience, a sense of competence, a sense of achievement, a sense of control, a sense of meaning, making a difference and the empowerment of others. In a deductive analysis, the theoretical frameworks proposed by Menon (2001) and Zimmerman (1995) revealed two further characteristics, namely goal orientation and a proactive orientation.

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