Article

Nurse Educators’ Workplace Empowerment, Burnout, and Job Satisfaction: Testing Kanter's Theory

George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Journal of Advanced Nursing (Impact Factor: 1.74). 05/2004; 46(2):134-43. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2003.02973.x
Source: PubMed
ABSTRACT
Empowerment has become an increasingly important factor in determining college nurse educator burnout, work satisfaction and performance in current restructured college nursing programmes in Canada.
This paper reports a study to test a theoretical model specifying relationships among structural empowerment, burnout and work satisfaction.
A descriptive correlational survey design was used to test the model in a sample of 89 Canadian full-time college nurse educators employed in Canadian community colleges. The instruments used were the Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire, Job Activities Scale, Organizational Relationship Scale, Maslach Burnout Inventory Educator Survey and Global Job Satisfaction Questionnaire.
College nurse educators reported moderate levels of empowerment in their workplaces as well as moderate levels of burnout and job satisfaction. Empowerment was significantly related to all burnout dimensions, most strongly to emotional exhaustion (r = -0.50) and depersonalization (r = -0.41). Emotional exhaustion was strongly negatively related to access to resources (r = -0.481, P = 0.0001) and support (r = -0.439, P = 0.0001). Multiple regression analysis revealed that 60% of the variance in perceptions of job satisfaction was explained by high levels of empowerment and low levels of emotional exhaustion [R(2) = 0.596, F (1, 86) = 25.01, P = 0.0001]. While both were significant predictors of perceived job satisfaction, empowerment was the stronger of the two (beta = 0.49).
The results provide support for Kanter's organizational empowerment theory in the Canadian college nurse educator population. Higher levels of empowerment were associated with lower levels of burnout and greater work satisfaction. These findings have important implications for nurse education administrators.

Full-text

Available from: Heather Laschinger
ISSUES AND INNOVATIONS IN NURSING EDUCATION
Nurse educators’ workplace empowerment, burnout, and job
satisfaction: testing Kanter’s theory
Teresa P. Sarmiento MScN RN
College Nurse Educator, George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Heather K. Spence Laschinger PhD RN
Professor and Associate Director Nursing Research, School of Nursing, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario,
Canada
Carroll Iwasiw EdD RN
Professor and Director School of Nursing, School of Nursing, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Submitted for publication 22 May 2003
Accepted for publication 21 October 2003
Correspondence:
Heather Spence Laschinger,
School of Nursing,
The University of Western Ontario,
London,
Ontario N6A 5C1,
Canada.
E-mail: hkl@uwo.ca
SARMIENTO T.P., LASCHINGER H.K.S. & IWASIW C. (2004)SARMIENTO T.P., LASCHINGER H.K.S. & IWASIW C. (2004)
Journal of
Advanced Nursing 46(2), 134–143
Nurse educators’ workplace empowerment, burnout, and job satisfaction: testing
Kanter’s theory
Background. Empowerment has become an increasingly important factor in
determining college nurse educator burnout, work satisfaction and performance in
current restructured college nursing programmes in Canada.
Aim. This paper reports a study to test a theoretical model specifying relationships
among structural empowerment, burnout and work satisfaction.
Method. A descriptive correlational survey design was used to test the model in a
sample of 89 Canadian full-time college nurse educators employed in Canadian
community colleges. The instruments used were the Conditions of Work Effective-
ness Questionnaire, Job Activities Scale, Organizational Relationship Scale, Maslach
Burnout Inventory Educator Survey and Global Job Satisfaction Questionnaire.
Results. College nurse educators reported moderate levels of empowerment in their
workplaces as well as moderate levels of burnout and job satisfaction. Empower-
ment was significantly related to all burnout dimensions, most strongly to emotional
exhaustion (r ¼0Æ50) and depersonalization (r ¼0Æ41). Emotional exhaustion
was strongly negatively related to access to resources (r ¼0Æ481, P ¼ 0Æ0001) and
support (r ¼0Æ439, P ¼ 0Æ0001). Multiple regression analysis revealed that 60%
of the variance in perceptions of job satisfaction was explained by high levels of
empowerment and low levels of emotional exhaustion [R
2
¼ 0Æ596, F (1, 86) ¼
25Æ01, P ¼ 0Æ0001]. While both were significant predictors of perceived job satis-
faction, empowerment was the stronger of the two (b ¼ 0Æ49).
Conclusions. The results provide support for Kanter’s organizational empowerment
theory in the Canadian college nurse educator population. Higher levels of empow-
erment were associated with lower levels of burnout and greater work satisfaction.
These findings have important implications for nurse education administrators.
Keywords: empowerment, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, personal
accomplishment, job satisfaction, nurse educators, burnout
134 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Page 1
Introduction
Nurse education in Canada is in the midst of rapid profes-
sional, social, and educational changes. Many educational
programmes are facing considerable financial constraints due
to government cutbacks in funding over the past decade.
Decreasing enrollments, fewer educators, and increased class
sizes, are placing increased demands on nurse educators
(Leon & Zareski 1998, Brendtro & Hegge 2000). Lack of
sufficient funding to support education programmes can be
frustrating to educators, particularly when resources are not
available to implement planned programmes. Furthermore,
there is a looming shortage of qualified staff to deliver
education programmes in the near future (DeYoung & Bliss
1995). In 1990, the National League of Nursing reported
approximately 900 unfilled full-time nurse educators posi-
tions in the United States of America (USA) (Moody 1996).
This shortage has been attributed to ageing of the present
cohort, fewer recruits to academic nursing, inadequate work
conditions, and poor job security (DeYoung & Bliss 1995).
The average age of the current cohort of nurse educators is
49Æ4 years of age and many will retire within the next
10 years (Brendtro & Hegge 2000). Such shortages increase
the workload for others, increasing the likelihood of stress
and burnout.
Nurse educators carry great responsibility in their organi-
zations, yet this high level of responsibility is often combined
with low decision-making power (Bauder 1982). This, in
turn, causes undue stress that may decrease job satisfaction
and increase the risk of burnout. Burnout has been identified
as an issue for nurse educators (Fong 1990). Too many tasks
in too little time are frequent complaints among educators.
Nurse educators must teach, counsel students, and work on
committees, as well as engage in clinical practice with
students (Brown 1991). With advancing medical technology,
nurse educators’ skills rapidly become obsolete and the
pressure to keep abreast and to maintain effective skills cause
distress. Finally, lack of respect and positive reinforcement
from administrators create job dissatisfaction and the risk of
burnout (Langemo 1988).
Nurse educators are at risk for burnout because they spend
a considerable amount of time with students who need help
acquiring knowledge, critical judgement, and psychomotor
skills (Bourcier 1986). Burnout is a syndrome in which a
previously committed, helping professional gradually disen-
gages from full participation in a job in response to excessive
job-related stressors. Burnout consists of three components
(Maslach et al. 1996). Emotional exhaustion (EE) is the tired
and fatigued feeling that develops as emotional energies are
drained. When these feelings become chronic, educators often
experience depersonalization (DP), that is, indifferent feelings
about helping their students learn and grow. When educators
no longer feel that they are contributing to students’
development, they may experience a lack of personal
accomplishment (PA). Burnout is a costly phenomenon
because the physical and psychological manifestations result
in decreased effectiveness and productivity (Pines & Maslach
1978).
Maslach (1982) suggests that burnout stems from social
interactions between helpers and recipients in which helpers
become overly emotionally involved and overextend them-
selves. Over time this results in EE. Nurse educators are
responsible for many roles and tasks in their organization and
often work an average of 59 hours per week (Fong 1990).
Time pressures and increasing job demands further increase
their risk of burnout. Given the link between burnout and
physical and emotional health problems (Stout & Williams
1983), identifying dissatisfying workplace factors that con-
tribute to stress and burnout in nurse educators is important.
The consequences of burnout have serious implications for
nurse educators, students, educational institutions, and ulti-
mately the profession. During a time when the profession is
facing a world-wide shortage of practicing nurses, highly
qualified nurse educators are essential for ensuring that the
supply of nurses in the future is sufficient to sustain the
professional workforce. Thus, it is important to study factors
that create negative work environments for nurse educators
and to find ways to make these settings satisfying.
Theoretical framework
According to Kanter (1977, 1993), workplace behaviours
and attitudes are determined by social structures in the
workplace, not personal predispositions. She claims that
workers are empowered when they perceive that their work
environments provide opportunity for growth and access to
power needed to carry out job demands. When these
conditions are lacking, employees feel powerlessness. This
threatens organizational productivity since powerless indi-
viduals are more susceptible to burnout and reduced job
satisfaction (Kanter 1979).
Kanter defines power as the capacity to mobilize resources
to accomplish work, and identifies structural characteristics
within an organization that influence an individual’s ability
to access and mobilize the resources of job-related empow-
erment: (1) power, that is, access to resources, support and
information and (2) opportunity, that is, access to challenge,
growth and development (see Figure 1). Access to these
organizational structures is influenced by the degree of formal
and informal power an individual has in the organization.
Issues and innovations in nursing education Testing Kanter’s theory
2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143 135
Page 2
Formal power is acquired by excellent performance of job-
related activities that are extraordinary, visible or attract the
attention of others, and are relevant to the solution of
pressing organizational problems (Brown & Kanter 1982).
Informal power results from political and social alliances
with sponsors, peers, and subordinates in the organization.
Sponsors include mentors, coaches, and teachers with higher-
level positions in the organization who provide approval,
prestige, or support to individuals that can lead to sponsored
mobility within the hierarchy. Alliances with peers are
necessary for any power base, as a peer 1 day could become
an individual’s boss the next.
The structure of power is derived from three sources:
access to support, information and resources. Support refers
to feedback and guidance received from superiors, peers,
and subordinates. Information refers to the data, technical
knowledge, and expertise required to function effectively in
one’s position (Chandler 1986). Resources are the materials,
money, supplies, equipment, and time necessary to accom-
plish organizational goals. Individuals who perceive them-
selves as having power tend to foster higher group morale
and cooperation, delegate more control and latitude to
subordinates, provide opportunities to subordinates and are
viewed by others as helping rather than hindering (Kanter
1979, 1993).
The structure of opportunity refers to the individual’s
prospects of growth and mobility within the organization
(Kanter 1993) and includes autonomy, growth, a sense of
challenge and the chance to learn and develop. Those who
perceive themselves as having access to opportunity invest in
work and seek ways to learn, contributing to personal growth
and development. Individuals in low opportunity positions
exhibit low self-esteem, disengage themselves from work, and
lower their aspirations.
Kanter (1993) maintains that individuals with access to
power and opportunity structures can accomplish the tasks
required to achieve organizational goals. Because they have
these tools, they are highly motivated and able to motivate
and empower others (Brown & Kanter 1982). Individuals
without access to power structures perceive themselves to be
powerless and become more rules-minded and less committed
to organizational goals.
Related research
There is considerable support for Kanter’s theory in nursing
(Laschinger 1996). Empowerment has been linked to import-
ant organizational outcomes, such as, job satisfaction (Whyte
1995, Kutzscher et al. 1996, Laschinger & Havens 1996a,
Laschinger et al. 2001), perceived control over nursing
practice (Laschinger & Havens 1996b), and lower levels of
job stress (Laschinger & Havens 1996a, Laschinger et al.
2001). Empowerment has also been linked to burnout and
job satisfaction. Hatcher and Laschinger (1996) found that
staff nurse access to empowerment structures was signifi-
cantly related to all aspects of burnout: DP (r ¼0Æ28), EE
(r ¼0Æ34), and PA (r ¼ 0Æ36). These nurses reported only
moderate levels of empowerment (M ¼ 10Æ66,
SDSD
¼ 2Æ22) on
a scale ranging from 4 to 20. O’Brien (1997) found similar
results.
Theoretical framework
Relationship of concepts in Rosabeth Kanter’s (1979) structural theory of power in organizations
Systemic power
factors
Access to job
related empowerment
structures
Personal impact
on employees
Work
effectiveness
Location in formal &
informal systems
Formal power
Job definition
Discretion (flexible)
Recognition (visible)
Relevance (central)
Informal power
Connections inside
the organization
Alliance with:
Sponsors
Peers
Subordinates
Cross functional
groups
Connections outside
the organization
Influences
Determines
Opportunity
structures
Power
structures
Resources
Information
Support
Proportions
structure
Leads to
Psychological
empowerment
Increased
self-efficacy
High motivation
Increased
organizational
commitment
Lowered
burnout
level
Increased
autonomy
Decreased
occupational
stress
Increased job
satisfaction
Results in
Achievement and
successes
Respect and
cooperation in
organization
Client
satisfaction
Figure 1 Theoretical framework.
T.P. Sarmiento et al.
136 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143
Page 3
Empowerment in nurse education
Few studies were found of nurse educator empowerment.
Erwin (1999) found that college nurse educators perceived
their work setting to be only moderately empowering
(M ¼ 11Æ71,
SDSD
¼ 2Æ49). Empowerment was significantly
related to perceived organizational climate for caring
(r ¼ 0Æ49) and to their use of empowering teaching behav-
iours (r ¼ 0Æ31). Nurse educators in Catalano (1994) study
reported infrequent use of empowering teaching behaviours.
Burnout in nurse educators
Several researchers have investigated nurse educator burnout.
In Bourcier’s (1986) study, nurse educators reported average
burnout on the EE (M ¼ 17Æ19,
SDSD
¼ 9Æ08) and DP dimen-
sions (M ¼ 3Æ84,
SDSD
¼ 3Æ83) and low burnout on the PA
dimension (M ¼ 37Æ40,
SDSD
¼ 7Æ16) according to Maslach’s
normative data for postsecondary educators (Maslach et al.
1996) (Table 1). High scores on the EE and DP subscales and
low scores on PA represent burnout. Emotional exhaustion
was significantly related to behavioural stress manifestations,
such as, drug use, gastrointestinal symptoms, hypertension,
and fatigue. Inadequate participation in important decisions,
unfair treatment by supervisors, and workload were cited as
major causes of EE. Staurovsky (1992) observed similar levels
of burnout in a study of 82 university nurse educators EE
(M ¼ 16Æ99,
SDSD
¼ 9Æ32), DP (M ¼ 3Æ16,
SDSD
¼ 2Æ90) and PA
(M ¼ 38Æ39,
SDSD
¼ 4Æ82). Educators reported low job satis-
faction and limited opportunities for promotion. Emotional
exhaustion was most strongly related to work on present job
(r ¼0Æ64, P < 0Æ05) and overall job satisfaction
(r ¼0Æ61, P < 0Æ05). Educators identified heavy assign-
ments, administrative attitudes, multiple job dimensions and
pay as sources of stress in qualitative comments. In Fong’s
(1993) study of 84 university nurse educators’ burnout, EE
was significantly (P<0Æ01) related to high job demands
(r ¼ 0Æ53), time pressures (r ¼ 0Æ33), hours worked (r ¼
0Æ36), and feelings of job inadequacy (r ¼ 0Æ31), and negati-
vely related to social support from one’s supervisors
(r ¼0Æ32) and peers (r ¼0Æ48). Lack of peer support
was most strongly related to both DP (r ¼ 0Æ38) and PA
(r ¼0Æ28).
Job satisfaction in nurse educators
Krahn (2000) studied the lived experience of 10 college nurse
educators who reported that continual budget cuts and
increasing class sizes challenged their ability to meet role
expectations. This was compounded by exhaustion from
enlarged teaching assignments, perceived lack of support, and
decreasing job satisfaction. Themes emerging from the
participants’ stories included feeling devalued, bowing to
the ‘status quo’, and conflicting with others. These themes
reflect Maslach’s descriptions of the burnout experience.
The study
Hypotheses
Based on Kanter’s theoretical framework and the previous
review of the literature, the following hypotheses were
formulated for this study:
I. College nurse educators’ perceptions of formal and
informal power in the workplace are positively related to
their perceptions of workplace empowerment.
Rationale: Kanter (1993) asserts that the combination of
formal job characteristics and informal alliances within the
organization influences employees’ access to sources of
opportunity, information, support, and resources that enable
them to effectively accomplish work tasks.
II. College nurse educators’ perceived workplace empow-
erment are negatively related to their feelings of EE, DP and
positively related to their feelings of PA.
Rationale: Kanter (1993) argues that power evolves from
the availability of work empowerment structures that enable
employees to accomplish their work. Empowered educators
are more likely to work towards organizational goals and
meet students’ needs. Inadequate support, resources, in-
creased workload and limited authority have been cited as
causes of stress in educators. Limited access to these
empowerment structures is likely to lead to EE, and feelings
of frustration and failure that may result in DP or negative
feelings towards students. Finally, access to empowerment
structures enables employees to accomplish their work,
leading to a sense of PA in their work (Maslach et al. 1996).
III. College nurse educators who perceive their workplace
to be empowering and who have low levels of burnout have
high levels of job satisfaction.
Rationale: Kanter (1993) believes that individuals feel
empowered by access to empowerment structures that enable
Table 1 Normative Data of experienced burnout: Maslach Burnout
Inventory Manual (MBI) (1996) for postsecondary educators
(n ¼ 635)
MBI subscales Low Average High
Possible
score range
Emotional exhaustion £13 14–23 24 0–63
Depersonalization £2 3–8 9 0–35
Personal accomplishment 43 42–36 £35 0–56
Issues and innovations in nursing education Testing Kanter’s theory
2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143 137
Page 4
them to mobilize the necessary resources to get things done.
As a result, they are more productive and less likely to
experience burnout, resulting in increased job satisfaction.
Design
A descriptive correlational survey design was used to collect
data from nurse educators working in community colleges
across the province of Ontario. The provincial registry
provided a list of all full-time or part-time college nurse
educators currently working in these institutions. Inclusion
criteria required that participants must have worked in their
institutions for at least 6 months.
Sample
A power analysis for multiple regression determined that a
sample of 85 was required to achieve 80% power to detect a
moderate effect size (0Æ15) (Cohen 1988). However, all
available college nurse educators were surveyed to allow for
the possibility of a low return rate commonly found with mail
surveys, and for the possibility that many college nurse
educators may no longer be in these roles due to recent
downsizing. A total of 146 educators were asked to partici-
pate in the study. The final sample consisted of 89 useable
surveys (61% response rate).
The majority of the respondents were female (98Æ 9%) and
married (68Æ5%), averaging 51 years of age, with 20 years
teaching experience, and 16 years in their current work
setting. The majority had a graduate degree (65Æ3%).
Educators taught an average of five courses a year and most
(74Æ2%) stated their present workload was higher than in the
past.
Instruments
Workplace empowerment was measured by the Conditions of
Work Effectiveness Questionnaire (CWEQ) (Laschinger
1996). This measures employee access to empowerment
structures described by Kanter (opportunity, information,
support and resources). Items are rated on a 5-point scale,
then summed and averaged to yield four subscales. An overall
empowerment scale is created by summing the four subscales
(range: 4–20). Reported subscale reliability coefficients range
from 0Æ76 to 0Æ94 (Sabiston & Laschinger 1995, Erwin 1999,
Davies 2001), and were 0Æ79–0Æ93 in this study. An
additional two-item scale measuring global perceptions of
work empowerment is used as a validity check (Laschinger
1996). Cronbach alpha reliability has ranged from 0Æ85 to
0Æ91 (Cline 2001, Davies 2001), and was 0Æ88 in this study.
The CWEQ was strongly correlated with the global measure
of empowerment (r ¼ 0Æ73, P ¼ 0Æ01), providing evidence
for its construct validity.
The Job Activities Scale (JAS) (Laschinger 1996) contains
nine items rated on a 5-point Likert scale that measure formal
power. Reported alpha reliability ranges from 0Æ71 to 0Æ86 in
previous research (Laschinger 1996), and was 0Æ80 in this
study. The Organizational Relationship Scale (ORS)
(Laschinger 1996) contains 18-item items that measure
informal power. Alpha reliability ranged from 0Æ85 to 0Æ90
(Laschinger 1996), 0Æ89 in this study.
The Maslach Burnout Inventory Educator Survey (MBI-ES)
(Maslach et al. 1996) measures perceived frequency of: EE,
DP and PA. The EE subscale consists of nine items, the DP
subscale five items and the PA subscale eight items. Items are
rated on a 7-point scale and summed to create subscales.
High scores on the EE and DP subscales and low scores on PA
represent burnout. These scores are then categorized into
low, average and high burnout according to normative data
for postsecondary educators (Maslach et al. 1996). Maslach
and Jackson (1981) report acceptable reliability for all
subscales (EE ¼ 0Æ90, DP ¼ 0Æ79, and PA ¼ 0Æ72). In this
study, the alpha reliability coefficients were 0Æ91, 0Æ74 and
0Æ71, for the EE, DP and PA subscales, respectively. The DP
and PA reliability coefficients are slightly lower than those
reported by Maslach and Jackson (1981) for general post-
secondary educators. It is possible that the more specific focus
of nursing education accounts for this variation.
The Global Job Satisfaction Questionnaire is a 4-item
global measure adapted from Hackman and Oldham’s (1975)
Job Diagnostic Survey (Laschinger 1996). Items are rated on
a 5-point Likert scale. This measure has good internal
consistency reliability 0Æ83 (Laschinger & Havens 1996a,
1996b, Laschinger et al. 2001); in our study this was 0Æ82.
Data collection
Following ethical approval, questionnaires were mailed to
participants along with a researcher-addressed, stamped
envelope. Dillman’s (1978) techniques for increasing mail
survey response rate were used. A reminder letter was sent at
2 weeks. Those who did not respond by 4 weeks were sent
another questionnaire package. As a token of appreciation
for participating in the study, a coffee shop voucher was
included.
Data analysis
Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were per-
formed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences
T.P. Sarmiento et al.
138 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143
Page 5
Program Version 10Æ0 (SPSS Incorporated 1999). Multiple
regression analysis and Pearson product-moment correlation
analysis were used to test the study hypotheses.
Results
Descriptive results
The mean values and the
SDSD
for major study variables are
shown in Table 3. Nurse educators perceived their work
environment to be only somewhat empowering (M ¼ 12Æ18,
SDSD
¼ 2Æ27). Global empowerment was also moderate
(M ¼ 3Æ23,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ98). Consistent with previous research,
access to opportunity was the most empowering aspect in
educators’ work environments (M ¼ 3Æ56,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ61), access
to resources the least empowering (M ¼ 2Æ58,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ66).
Nurse educators also reported only moderate levels of formal
and informal power (M ¼ 3Æ12,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ51 and M ¼ 3Æ13,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ60, respectively), similar to those of college nurse
educators in Erwin’s (1999) study but higher than those
reported by staff nurses (Whyte 1995, Hatcher & Laschinger
1996, Laschinger & Havens 1996, 1997).
According to Maslach’s norms, nurse educators’ levels of
EE, DP and PA were moderate (M ¼ 21Æ02,
SDSD
¼ 10Æ89;
M ¼ 5Æ03,
SDSD
¼ 4Æ21; M ¼ 38Æ65,
SDSD
¼ 5Æ57; respectively)
(see Table 2). These results are similar to other nurse
educators (Bourcier 1986, Staurovsky 1992). However, their
EE scores were higher and their DP and PA scores were lower
than Maslach’s norms for postsecondary educators. Finally,
educators in this study were only somewhat satisfied with
their job (M ¼ 3Æ33,
SDSD
¼ 0Æ85). These findings are similar to
those of clinical nurse educators in Davies’s (2001) study.
Tests of hypotheses
College educators’ perceptions of formal and informal power
were positively related to their perceived access to empow-
erment structures. Fifty-one (51%) of the variance in
empowerment was explained by formal and informal power
[F (2, 86) ¼ 46Æ65, P ¼ 0Æ0001]. This is consistent with
previous research (Laschinger 1996, Davies 2001). Both
formal and informal power were significant predictors of
empowerment (b ¼ 0Æ42, t ¼ 4Æ26, P ¼ 0Æ0001 and b ¼
0Æ37, t ¼ 3Æ73, P ¼ 0Æ001). These results support Kanter’s
(1993) contention that greater access to both formal power
and informal power influence access to workplace empow-
erment structures.
College educators’ perceptions of workplace empowerment
were significantly related to all components of burnout
(P < 0Æ01) (see Table 3). Pearson correlation analyses
revealed that work empowerment was significantly related
to EE (r ¼0Æ51), with access to resources having the
greatest impact (r ¼0Æ48), followed by access to support
(r ¼0Æ44), access to information (r ¼0Æ37), and oppor-
tunity (r ¼0Æ32). Similarly, empowerment was significantly
negatively related to DP (r ¼0Æ40), with access to infor-
mation having the greatest impact on DP (r ¼0Æ38).
Finally, workplace empowerment was positively related to
PA (r ¼ 0Æ38), with access to information having the greatest
impact on PA (r ¼ 0Æ40), followed by access to opportunity
(r ¼ 0Æ32). These findings are consistent with Hatcher and
Laschinger’s (1996) findings with staff nurses and similar to
those of Davies (2001), who linked clinical nurse educators’
empowerment to job tension.
Finally, high levels of work empowerment in combination
with low levels of burnout were significant predictors of college
educators’ job satisfaction. This was the case for all
Table 2 Observed mean values and
SDSD
for instrument scales and
subscales
Instrument n Mean
SDSD
Overall empowerment (total CWEQ)** 89 12Æ18 2Æ27
Subscales: opportunity* 89 3Æ56 0Æ61
Information* 89 3Æ16 0Æ75
Support* 89 2Æ88 0Æ83
Resources* 89 2Æ58 0Æ66
Job Activities Scale (formal power)* 89 3Æ12 0Æ51
Organizational Relationship Scale
(informal power)*
89 3Æ13 0Æ60
Global empowerment* 89 3Æ23 0Æ98
Burnout subscales: emotional exhaustion (EE) 89 21Æ02 10Æ89
Depersonalization (DP) 89 5Æ03 4Æ21
Personal accomplishment (PA) 89 38Æ65 5Æ57
Global job satisfaction* 89 3Æ33 0Æ85
Score range: *1–5, **4–20; EE, 0–63; DP, 0–35; PA, 0–56.
Table 3 Correlations between overall empowerment, formal power,
informal power and burnout
Empowerment variable EE DP PA
Overall empowerment (total CWEQ) 0Æ51* 0Æ40* 0Æ38*
Subscales: opportunity 0Æ32** 0Æ31** 0Æ32*
Information 0Æ37** 0Æ38* 0Æ40*
Support 0Æ44* 0Æ30* 0Æ25*
Resources 0Æ48* 0Æ28* 0Æ24*
Job Activities Scale (formal power) 0Æ37* 0Æ24** 0Æ36*
Organizational Relationship Scale
(informal power)
0Æ30** 0Æ28** 0Æ31*
Global empowerment 0Æ53* 0Æ47* 0Æ42*
*P ¼ 0Æ01; **P ¼ 0Æ05.
EE, emotional exhaustion; DP, depersonalization; PA, personal
accomplishment; CWEQ, Conditions of Work Effectiveness Ques-
tionnaire.
Issues and innovations in nursing education Testing Kanter’s theory
2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143 139
Page 6
components of burnout. As burnout is measured on three
separate subscales (EE, DP and PA), three separate multiple
regression analyses were performed. In all cases, both empow-
erment and burnout were significant predictors of job satis-
faction; however, empowerment was the stronger of the two.
Sixty percentage of the variance in job satisfaction was
explained by the combination of empowerment and EE [F (1,
86) ¼ 25Æ01; b ¼ 0Æ489, t ¼ 6Æ14, P ¼ 0Æ0001 and b ¼
0Æ398, t ¼5Æ00, P ¼ 0Æ0001, for empowerment and EE,
respectively]. Similarly, 55% of the variance in job satisfaction
was explained by the combination of empowerment and DP [F
(1, 86) ¼ 13Æ12, P ¼ 0Æ0001; b ¼ 0Æ578, t ¼ 7Æ32, and
b ¼0Æ287, t ¼3Æ63, P ¼ 0Æ0001, respectively]. Finally,
the combination of empowerment and PA explained 51% of
the variance in job satisfaction [F (1, 86) ¼ 4Æ67, P ¼ 0Æ033;
b ¼ 0Æ625, t ¼ 7Æ62, P ¼ 0Æ0001 and b ¼0Æ177, t ¼2Æ16,
P ¼ 0Æ033, respectively]. To determine the effects of individual
components of burnout in combination with empowerment,
an additional hierarchical multiple regression was conducted
in which the three burnout components were entered as a
block. In this analysis, although the three burnout scales added
a significant change in explained variance in job satisfaction
[R
2
change ¼ 0Æ129, F change (3, 84) ¼ 9Æ21], only EE was
found to add unique explained variance beyond that explained
by empowerment (b ¼0Æ339, t ¼3Æ5, P ¼ 0Æ001). In this
model, empowerment was the strongest predictor of job
satisfaction (b ¼0Æ46, t ¼ 5Æ6, P ¼ 0Æ0001). Neither DP
nor PA was significant (b ¼0Æ068, t ¼0Æ685, P ¼ 0Æ495
and b ¼ 0Æ083, t ¼ 1Æ003, P ¼ 0Æ319, respectively). The total
explained variance was 60Æ8% [R
2
¼ 0Æ608, F (4, 84) ¼ 32Æ57,
P ¼ 0Æ0001].
Additional correlational analyses were conducted to fur-
ther examine the relationships between specific empower-
ment dimensions and burnout and job satisfaction. Overall
empowerment and satisfaction were strongly related
(r ¼ 0Æ69, P ¼ 0Æ01). Job satisfaction was most strongly
related to access to support (r ¼ 0Æ610, P ¼ 0Æ0001), fol-
lowed by access to resources (r ¼ 0Æ57, P ¼ 0Æ01), informa-
tion (r ¼ 0Æ52, P ¼ 0Æ01), and opportunity (r ¼ 0Æ493,
P ¼ 0Æ01) (see Table 4). These findings are similar to those
of Whyte (1995), Laschinger and Havens (1996, 1997) and
Casier (2000), who found that access to support had the
strongest relationship with staff nurse job satisfaction. Job
satisfaction was also significantly related to formal and
informal power (r ¼ 0Æ54, P ¼ 0Æ01; r ¼ 0Æ43, P ¼ 0Æ01).
Finally, all burnout subscales were strongly related to job
satisfaction: EE (r ¼0Æ65, P ¼ 0Æ01), DP (r ¼0Æ52,
P ¼ 0Æ01) and PA (r ¼ 0Æ42, P ¼ 0Æ01).
Educational level, years of teaching experience, length of
employment, and amount of courses taught per year were not
significantly related to any of the major study variables.
Empowerment was significantly (<0Æ05) related to the
number of classroom students taught (r ¼0Æ23), as was
EE (r ¼ 0Æ38), DP (r ¼ 0Æ38), and job satisfaction (r ¼ 0Æ30).
EE and job satisfaction were also significantly related
(P < 0Æ05) to hours worked per week (r ¼ 0Æ30 and
r ¼0Æ22, respectively).
Discussion
The findings of this study support Kanter’s theoretical
contention that organizational factors within the workplace
are important in shaping organizational behaviours and
attitudes. Kanter’s belief that employees’ access to the
information, opportunity, support and resources necessary
for their work has positive effects on employees, such as
lower degrees of burnout and greater amounts of job
satisfaction was supported in the nurse educator population.
College educators perceived themselves to be only moderately
empowered, consistent with previous studies of college
educators (Erwin 1999) and staff nurses (Whyte 1995,
Hatcher & Laschinger 1996). Although more empowered
than staff nurses, it is surprising that the difference was not
greater, although the fact that both work in hierarchical
organizations may account for this finding.
College educators felt they had more access to opportunity
and the least access to resources. This is likely to be related to
the nature of their roles. Educators are expected to attend
professional conferences to remain up-to-date. These confer-
ences provide them with opportunities to develop new
knowledge and also to network with others within and
Table 4 Correlations between job satisfaction, empowerment and
burnout
Empowerment variable Global job satisfaction
Overall empowerment (total CWEQ) 0Æ69*
Opportunity 0Æ49*
Information 0Æ52*
Support 0Æ61*
Resources 0Æ56*
Formal power (JAS) 0Æ54*
Informal power (ORS) 0Æ43*
Global empowerment 0Æ81*
Burnout (MBI)
Emotional exhaustion 0Æ65*
Depersonalization 0Æ52*
Personal accomplishment 0Æ42*
*P ¼ 0Æ01.
CWEQ, Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire; JAS, Job
Activities Scale; ORS, Organizational Relationship Scale; MBI,
Maslach Burnout Inventory.
T.P. Sarmiento et al.
140 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143
Page 7
outside the organization who might be able to provide
support. Empowerment strategies for nursing education
administrators include adding new challenges, implementing
training and development sessions, unblocking channels of
communication, building trust by sharing information, pro-
viding timely feedback on performance, supporting collabor-
ation and collegiality among staff, and assuring available
resources to accomplish work. Kanter (1993) argues that
placing employees in positions that highlight their relevance,
value and visibility to the organization increases perceptions
of power.
Similar to Erwin’s findings, both formal and informal
power were strongly related to educators’ perceptions of
workplace empowerment. Kanter maintains that power can
be accumulated in two ways in organizations: through
formal positions in the organization (job activities) and
through informal networks (alliances with subordinates,
peers, and sponsors). This finding supports Kanter’s (1977,
1993) belief that position in the organizational hierarchy
determines the ease with which access to opportunity,
information, support and resources is gained. College edu-
cators reported higher formal power than staff nurses in
other studies (Whyte 1995, O’Brien 1997), possibly reflecting
the greater flexibility that educators have in the way their
work gets done.
Perceptions of empowerment were significantly related to
EE and DP. Lack of support and resources played an
important role. These results are consistent with Fong’s
(1990) study linking collegial and chairperson support to
nurse educator burnout. Nursing education administrators
can provide support and resources for nurse educators in a
variety of ways. Annual performance appraisals and oppor-
tunities to discuss concerns of educators with administrators
can be important sources of support. Recent funding
cutbacks to programmes have resulted in fewer resources
for nurse education, making it difficult for nurse educators to
carry out their work. Consequently, they experience frustra-
tion and dissatisfaction with their jobs. Study results demon-
strate the potential negative effects of this situation on nurse
educator’s mental health. Educators’ perceptions of empow-
erment were also significantly related to their feelings of PA.
Most educators enter the profession to help students learn
and grow. When educators feel they have access to resources
needed to promote student learning, they experience a sense
of accomplishment.
Finally, high levels of work-related empowerment in
combination with low levels of burnout were strongly
predictive of nurse educators’ job satisfaction. This supports
Kanter’s (1993) argument that when empowerment struc-
tures are in place, employees experience less job stress and are
more satisfied in their work. All components of burnout were
important predictors of job satisfaction, although EE dimen-
sion was the strongest. Indeed, EE was the only burnout
component that accounted for unique variance in job
satisfaction when the three burnout components were con-
sidered simultaneously. That is, once EE was taken into
account, the other burnout components provided no new
information in understanding the impact of burnout on job
satisfaction. This finding is consistent with the view of many
scholars that EE is the core component of burnout (Burke &
Greenglass 1995, Cordes et al. 1997, Moore 2000). Most
studies have shown it to be the most stable of the three
components (Schaufeli & Enzmann 1998), and, it has been
shown to be the most responsive to the nature and intensity
of stress at work stress (Lee & Ashforth 1996, Schaufeli &
Enzmann 1998). Thus, it is not surprising that EE was the
most important burnout factor predicting nurse educators’
job satisfaction in this study. Exhausted employees are not
likely to be very satisfied with their jobs. While all empow-
erment factors were strongly related to job satisfaction,
access to support was shown to have the strongest relation-
ship. Support from administrators allows educators to
perform their role effectively creating productive power and
increased job satisfaction.
Informal power was also an important determinant of job
satisfaction supporting Kanter’s contention that positional
power is not sufficient for effective performance in organi-
zations. College educators in Krahn (2000) study identified
the importance of informal working relationships as instru-
mental to effective performance. Kanter (1993) believes that
work structures, such as teams, empower employees by
fostering opportunities to learn and grow, providing access to
information, support and resources, resulting in increased
work satisfaction and effectiveness. Educators engage in
many activities throughout the organization that allow them
the opportunity to build valuable networks with co-workers
outside of their immediate workgroup.
Educators’ empowerment and job satisfaction were
negatively related to the number of classroom students
taught and hours worked per week. This is a resource
issue. According to Kanter (1993), time is an essential
empowerment resource. Barrett et al. (1992) observed that
nurse educators’ most enjoyable aspect of their job was
student contact and felt they had insufficient time to do so
due to unreasonable workloads. Addressing these issues
would allow them to spend more time with students and to
pursue other aspects of the nurse educator role, such as
participating in continuing education activities. These
opportunities can increase feelings of empowerment and
job satisfaction.
Issues and innovations in nursing education Testing Kanter’s theory
2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 46(2), 134–143 141
Page 8
Limitations
There are several methodological limitations of this study.
Response bias is always a concern when self-report instru-
ments are used. Another limitation is related to the process
used to acquire the sample. It is possible that educators were
missing from the sampling frame because they refused to
release their name for research purposes. Finally, it is not
possible to generalize the findings to university educators.
Conclusion
The results of this study provide support for the applicability
of Kanter’s organizational empowerment theory in nurse
education environments. The findings support Kanter’s pro-
position that workplace structures have positive effects on
employees. The results must be viewed in relation to current
financial constraints in nurse education. Insufficient funding
for nurse education programmes and the impending shortage
of nurse educators in the near future place nurse educators at
risk of burnout and poor health. This study suggests that
strategies to enhance work empowerment may prevent
burnout in college educators and increase job satisfaction.
Nurse educators who are more satisfied with their jobs will
engage in their work with greater joy and accomplishment
throughout their academic careers. Consequently, student
learning will be enhanced and the nursing profession is more
likely to gain highly qualified graduates who ensure that
patients receive that quality of care they deserve.
Acknowledgements
This study was funded by Sigma Theta Tau Iota Omicron
Chapter; Nursing Research Interest Group, Registered Nur-
ses Association of Ontario; Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council; and the Empowerment Research Program,
University of Western Ontario.
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  • Source
    • "Fostering of relationships and recognition of practitioners accomplishments is therefore key to enhancing role satisfaction and protecting employees from stress and burnout (Espeland, 2006). As previous studies have demonstrated, access to support is strongly associated with job satisfaction (Sarmiento et al, 2004) this lack of supervisory support could have implications for the CPTs satisfaction levels and subsequently their effectiveness as educators. Participants cited a more supportive framework as important to decrease stress, as all trusts in the study had practice education facilitators and link lecturers, these would seem well placed to identify suitable supervisory systems and enhance the satisfaction levels of CPTs. "
    Full-text · Dataset · Apr 2016
  • Source
    • "Over the last two decades Kanter's theory has been used to demonstrate the link between empowering workplace structures, job satisfaction , stress and burnout in healthcare settings (Laschinger 2012, Maynard et al. 2012). Empowered nurses have greater job satisfaction (Laschinger et al. 2001a), lower job stress (Davies et al. 2006) and burnout (Sarmiento et al. 2004). Further studies using Kanter's theory supports that empowered nurses are more likely to provide high quality care (Ning et al. 2009), empower patients (Laschinger et al. 2010a), feel more respected in the workplace (Faulkner & Laschinger 2007) and experience less bullying (Laschinger et al. 2010b, Read & Laschinger 2013 ). "
    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2015
  • Source
    • "Negative effects have been observed where these elements are missing in the organization (Nizam & Adil, 2014; Laschinger et al., 2001). Structural empowerment is an appropriate component to determine the job performance and satisfaction (Sarmiento, Laschinger, & Iwasiw, 2004). The employees who demonstrate great deal of work related empowerment are predictive of job performance and satisfaction, whereas, employees with less job satisfaction can experience frequent turnover which become costly to the organization due to lengthy hiring process and training of the newly hired staff (Nedd, 2006). "
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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