ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 353-364.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00353

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The effects of employee empowerment expectation: The underlying theoretical explanations

YIN Kui1, ZHANG Kaili2(), ZHAO Jing1(), GONG Zhenxing3   

  1. 1School of Economics and Management, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Beijing 100083, China
    2School of Business, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai 200237, China
    3School of Business, Liaocheng University, Liaocheng 252000, China
  • Received:2020-03-04 Online:2021-02-15 Published:2020-12-29
  • Contact: ZHANG Kaili,ZHAO Jing;


Most of previous research on empowering leader behavior has adopted a leader-centric approach to examine its effectiveness. With the arising of followership theory, more research has emphasized the importance of examining leadership effectiveness from the follower-centric approach. Expectation plays an import role in management. Employee empowerment expectation refers to a set of norms that employees perceived about the responsibilities and obligations the leader should shoulder in terms of empowering. 
Most of the existing empirical research concentrate on the effect of employee and leader empowerment fit and emphasize that employee’s leadership role expectation has a direct impact on individual behavior from the perspective of congruence. However, previous review of empowerment mainly focused on leader empowering behavior and pay little attention to employee empowerment expectation. From the perspective of the theoretical explanation of the role of employee empowerment expectation in the process of empowerment, the theories used are relatively scattered, based on which, there is a lack of systematic review of the findings and shortcomings.
The concepts, measurements and related theories involved in the effect of employee empowerment expectation were systematically reviewed. To date, the measurement of employee empowerment expectation is realized by changing the subject of measurement items, referring to Ahearne’s (2005) leadership empowerment behavior scale. Previous empirical studies have mainly explored the effect of employee empowerment expectation from the perspective of employee and leader congruence, while there is no empirical study has focused on the separate influence or formation mechanism of it. There are two type research on the congruence of employee and leader empowerment expectation: (1) The congruence of expectation and experience, which is the congruence of employee’s empowerment expectation and leader’s empowering behavior. And the measurement of leader empowering behavior is divided into employee-rated and leader self-rated. (2) evaluators congruence, such as employee self-rated and leader-rated employee empowerment expectation. In addition, from the role set theory, leader categorization theory and met expectation theory, this paper summarized the effect and research conclusions of employee empowerment expectation.
Further research can expand current research based on the congruence perspective with the help of more accurate measurement of employee empowerment expectation, or break through the existing research paradigm and recognize employee empowerment expectation as a more important separate variable based on the following theory or implicit leadership theory, as well as systematically explore its antecedents and outcomes: (1) Based on the implicit leadership theory, future research can enrich the measurement of employee empowerment expectation. (2) Drawing on the person-environment fit theory (especially the employee-leader fit), future research can explain the empowerment congruence of employee and leader, such as exploring the path of “employee and leader empowerment expectation congruence → leader relational identity→ employee proactive behavior” based on the relational identity theory. (3) Future research can discuss the main effect of employee empowerment expectation, exploring the path of “employee empowerment expectation → employee following behavior (e.g., proactive behavior) → leader empowering behavior” based on the following theory. (4) In view of the fact that employee empowerment expectation can be used as a moderator and a separate variable to influence employee’s attitude, behavior and leadership effectiveness, future research can analyze the antecedents of employee empowerment expectation. (5) Future research can discuss the antecedents and outcomes of employee empowerment expectation from the perspective of segmentation dimension.

Key words: leader empowering behavior, empowering expectation, role expectation, followership theory, met expectation theory

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