Using Empowerment to Build Trust and Respect in the Workplace: A Strategy for Addressing the Nursing Shortage

Heather K. Spence Laschinger; Joan Finegan


Nurs Econ. 2005;23(1):6-13. 

In This Article


Descriptive Statistics

The means and standard deviations of the major study variables are presented in Table 1 . Nurses in this study felt their work environments were only somewhat empowering, with most subscales averaging below 3 on the 5-point rating scale. The most empowering aspects of their work environments were access to opportunities for challenging work and positive informal alliances; the least empowering structure was formal power; that is, flexibility in how their work gets done. The nurses also reported only moderate amounts of interactional justice. Interpersonal justice was greater than informational justice. Similarly, nurses did not perceive that they received the respect they deserved in their organizations. Not surprisingly, nurses did not report high levels of trust in management (M=3.24, SD=1.67 on a 6-point scale). Nurses rated management lowest on honesty and demonstration of concern for employees. Finally, nurses in this study reported only moderate degrees of job satisfaction and organizational commitment, averaging just above the midpoint of the scale.

Test of the Hypothesized Model

The results of the test of the original theoretical model suggested a poor fit of the data to the hypothesized model ( X 2 = 156.01 (df = 9), CFI = 0.74, IFI = 0.742, RMSEA = 0.24). However, an inspection of the parameter estimates and t-values supported the basic relationships in the original hypothesized model (see Figure 2). All paths were significant and in the hypothesized direction. Modification indices suggested that the model's fit would improve significantly if direct paths were added from structural empowerment to respect, job satisfaction, and commitment, and from justice to trust. Since these paths were theoretically defensible, they were added to the model and retested.

Figure 2.

Test of Original Hypothesized Model

The respecified model showed an improved fit over the hypothesized model (∆ X 2 = 128.22, df = 1). This analysis yielded a model with the X 2 of 27.79, df = 5, CFI = 0.96, IFI = 0.961, RMSEA = 0.14. The good-ness-of-fit statistics indicated an adequate fit according to standards recommended by Bentler and Bonett (1980) and Browne and Cudeck (1989).

Figure 3 displays the standardized parameter estimates for the structural part of the final model. All estimated paths in the re-estimated model were significant. As predicted, structural empowerment had a direct, positive effect on interactional justice (ß= 0.42), which, in turn, had a direct effect on perceived respect (ß= 0.49) and organizational trust (ß= 0.27). Empowerment had both a direct effect (ß= 0.25) and an indirect effect (0.17) on trust in management (through justice and respect). Respect had a direct effect on organizational trust (ß= 0.13), which in turn, had a direct effect on job satisfaction (ß= 0.16). Finally, job satisfaction had a strong direct effect on organizational commitment (ß= 0.54). Interestingly, structural empowerment had significant direct effects on all subsequent variables in the model: respect (ß= 0.24), trust (ß= 0.25), job satisfaction (ß= 0.52), and organizational commitment (ß= 0.18), suggesting that it affects organizational outcomes both directly and indirectly through various pathways. In fact, the total effect of empowerment on organizational commitment was strong (0.50) suggesting much of its effect was through mediating pathways in the model. The final model accounted for 44% of the variance in the data.

Figure 3.

Final Model


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: