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Do you feel what I feel? Empowerment contagion in project teams

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conference contribution
posted on 24.01.2013, 11:47 by Martin Tuuli, Sylvia Acquah
Psychological empowerment, described as constellation of experienced cognitions manifested as sense of meaning, competence, impact, and self-determination has been identified as an important motivating force in teams with performance consequences for individuals and teams. Prior research have therefore sort to identify factors from the individual-, team-, project- and organisation-levels that impact empowerment cognitions with the hope of providing concrete targets for promoting psychological empowerment. One constituency that has been overlooked is the likelihood that psychological empowerment in teams may be capable of being transmitted from one team member to another. This paper reports a study investigating whether psychological empowerment cognition in project teams is contagious. Using survey responses from 380 individuals, nested in 115 project management teams, we test the psychological empowerment contagion hypothesis using analysis of variance, interrater agreement and hierarchical linear modelling as proxies. Analysis of variance indicates that the between-team variance of team psychological empowerment is statistically significant and substantially larger than the within-team variance. Several measures of interrator agreement also show considerable agreement (consensus) within teams, further confirming the prevalence of psychological empowerment in teams. Team psychological empowerment also has a significant positive and independent impact on individual psychological empowerment, even after controlling for the impact of variables previously identified as influencing psychological empowerment. Team members who reported higher levels of team psychological empowerment were also more likely to experience higher levels of individual psychological empowerment themselves. Psychological empowerment is contagious and can be transmitted from one team member to another. These findings supplement the traditional sources of antecedents of empowerment and suggest that team members play an important multiplier role in engendering feelings of psychological empowerment both consciously and unconsciously.



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TUULI, M.M. and ACQUAH, S., 2012. Do you feel what I feel? Empowerment contagion in project teams. IN: Smith, S.D. (ed.) Proceedings of the 28th Annual ARCOM Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 3-5 September 2012, pp. 563 - 574.


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This is a conference paper. It is also available at: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/