Internal Locus of Control

Locus of control concern the extent to which people believe they have control over what happens to them in life and it may be internal or external (Spreitzer, 1995).

Internal Locus of Control refers to people’s perception that events which happen to them in life are primarily, though not exclusively, within their direct control and influence.

However, an External Locus of Control refers to people’s perceptions that events which happen to them are determined by matters outsider their control, such as the behavior of other people, chance, external circumstances, fate and so on.

Conclusions of Conger and Kanungo’s (1988) studies reveal that employee empowerment has positive implications on employee’s locus of control.

Locus of control is therefore the belief that each person holds regarding the relationships between their actions and outcomes and, as mentioned before, it may be internal or external.

Whetten and Cameron (1991:72) explain internal locus of control as referring to:

the attitude people develop regarding the extent to which they are in control of their own destiny (Whetten and Cameron, 1991:72).

In the same context, Wilson (2004:167) notes:

Potentially empowerment can mean workers take more control over their jobs and working environment. They should be able be able to enhance the contributions they make as individuals and members of a team and also seize opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment (Wison, 2004:167).

The need for employees to feel that they have some control, not only over their work, but also their own lives, is regarded to be essential, as du Gay and Salaman (1998: 61) emphasize:

Enterprising companies make meaning for people by encouraging them to believe that they have control over their own lives; that no matter what position they may hold within an organization their contribution is vital, not only to the success of the company but to the enterprise of their own lives (Salaman, 1998: 61).

When people feel they have some control over their work and are empowered to take decisions, they are also more likely to accept the consequences of them.

In other words, employees are more committed to actions based on decisions that they have taken themselves than they are to actions that are based on decisions taken by others (Greenberg and Baron, 2000).

Employees with a strong internal locus of control are more likely to feel capable of performing their tasks, and it can also lead individuals to be innovative and creative (Spreitzer, 1995; Velthouse, 1990), hence this is a skill particularly sought after by organizations.

A number of authors propose that managerial strategies that strengthen employee’s self-determination or locus of control can be considered as empowering and enabling (Greasley et al., 2005).

Thus, the need for personal control can be a powerful motivator for people at work. But, in order to help employees enhance and develop their internal locus of control, managers need to believe, and have trust in the potential of their people throughout the process of empowering their employees.

Managers must also give up control over a variety of decision-making that takes place in organizations, and let their employees act independently, especially at lower levels (Simon, 1995). This has resonance with the social work literature:

the most oppressed people in society need to be empowered.

Conclusions drawn from Conger and Kanungo’s (1988) studies reveal that employee empowerment Opens in new window gives employees more personal control. This is essential, particularly, for front-line employees.

Employee empowerment is necessary because they (front-line employees) need the flexibility and the self-confidence to make on-the-spot decisions to satisfy customers, or respond quickly to customers’ needs, thus making the organization more efficient, leading to the optimum utilization of human resources.

A range of unwanted consequences can result from low, or less than desired, levels of control, such as withdrawal, decrease in performance, stress and even depression (Bandura, 1995). In contrast, a number of benefits of feeling in control highlighted by several authors include a reduction in an individual’s feelings of helplessness, fears of insecurity an manifestation of stress.

    The research data for this literature have been adapted from the manual:
  1. The Psychology of Employee Empowerment: Concepts, Critical Themes and a ... By Rozana Ahmad Huq