Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Lelia B. Helms

Second Advisor

Alan B. Henkin

First Committee Member

Marcus J. Haack

Second Committee Member

Gregory E. Hamot

Third Committee Member

Liz Hollingworth


Employee empowerment has long been associated with organizational outcomes such as innovation, greater effectiveness, and better performance. Non-academic professional employees in higher education are responsible for the important day-to-day operations of a university; therefore, organizational strategies such as employee empowerment that encourage initiatives and innovative behaviors among them may become crucial to the long-term survival of today's colleges and universities. Surprisingly, non-academic professional employees in higher education have received little attention in the scholarly literature.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between the levels of empowerment and perceived organizational support for innovations and organizational trust among non-academic professional employees within a public comprehensive university in a Midwestern state. The study also tested the hypotheses that organizational trust may affect perceived employee empowerment and influence the relationship between perceived organizational support for innovation and employee empowerment. A survey instrument was distributed by email to all eligible professional and scientific employees (N = 558) in the selected university. Data were collected using a web survey method. A total of 255 completed instruments were returned, which yielded a 45.7% net response rate.

Overall, there was substantial evidence supporting a relationship between empowerment and the four distinct cognitions of empowerment, supporting the notion that empowerment is the "gestalt" of the four dimensions. Perceived organizational support for innovation was a significant predictor of employees' perceived empowerment among non-academic professional employees. The respondents who reported higher levels of perceived organizational support for innovation perceived higher levels of empowerment. The study's findings indicated the influence of organizational trust on empowerment. The findings also showed administrative responsibilities had a positive direct effect on organizational support for innovation and a positive indirect effect on empowerment.

Knowing that the success of empowerment initiatives may depend on the extent to which organizational members feel valued and affirmed, which requires an organizational climate that they perceive as supportive of innovation, change, and risk-taking behaviors, administrators in higher education can maximize their organizational strategies by acquiring internal mechanisms that can stimulate and encourage new ideas for innovation proposal, adoption, and implementation to occur.


Employee, Empowerment, Higher Education, Non-Academic Personnel, Organizational Support for Innovation, Organizational Trust


x, 157 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 142-157).


Copyright 2010 Wing Keung Jason Lau