Beard (1993) focused on the idea of empowerment with the viewpoints of the need to remain competitive by removing many middle managers to allow employees to make some decisions. At the same time, there are other ideas that support the concept such as the process of Total Quality Management, the concept of employee retention/satisfaction as well as reward management and increased motivation or the culture of the company. However, as described by Heathfield (2007), Welch (2005), Hornstein (2002) as well as Heller (2007) the reality of empowerment is quite different.
The reasons for that are manifold and the most important reason which becomes evident from the literature is the lack of trust which develops between managers and employees as there can be communication gaps in terms of what employees are empowered to do and what they can not do. However, this is only a part of the full equation which includes several other factors. At the present time, there is certainly a significant difference and a wide gap about what managers would say about empowerment and what actually takes place in the business world (Heller, 2007). Most of the time, this gap does not come from differences in what manager says and then do but this gap comes from the policies and practices which make empowerment a failure rather than a success (Heathfield, 2007).
Heller (2007) points towards an interesting comparison when he reports a study that shows that half of all managers are looking to make plans which can empower their employees. However, he also mentions that their understanding of the term may be significantly different from the one which is accepted by management gurus. He goes on to say, “Such statistics are not as encouraging as they seem. Clearly, well over half the companies concerned had not yet introduced whatever they meant by ‘empowerment’ (Heller, 2007, Pg. 1)”. Additionally, it seems that the real power is retained by the managers in question while some elementary powers .are delegated elsewhere. .