Empowerment and Partnership Is it Possible in the Academic Library?
The paper presents the idea of empowerment and partnership in the academic library. Some differences between classic and empowerment management and some important features of leadership are also pointed out in the study. Difficulties as well as benefits of participation in an academic library are shown in the second part of the paper. There are many areas in the academic library where empowerment and partnership could be successfully implemented in the management process.
There is an old dictum that says geniuses are able to learn from the mistakes of others, intelligent people from their own, and slowwitted people will simply never learn. It would be logical to assume that since other peoples mistakes can be beneficial to us, their knowledge, if reached for properly, should be even more valuable. That issue, i.e., the utilization of the coworkers knowledge in the processes of library management, is the subject matter of this paper.
The perception of leadership evolved extensively in the last century. The Taylorian concept of a machinist organisation put the leader in the central position, from which he could oversee, manage and supervise the stability of the processes in an organisation. The concept of an organisation seen as a living organism also attributed the greatest importance to the leader who was the brain in control of all the bodily functions. Those models served their purpose in the stable reality of the 20th century. However, as organisations face the changeable, often turbulent environment of the 21st century, the systems practical efficacy has greatly diminished. It seems that the solution lies in shifting the management model towards empowerment and partnership in the relationship between leaders and their subordinates who should be able to participate directly or not in decisionmaking processes. Certain elements of this approach are already successfully being implemented in a growing number of commercial institutions. It is often emphasized that a leader who chooses to surrender some of his authority in favour of the employees in fact gains power in the process . Indeed, the greater the autonomy, the broader the scope of communal control which is by far more effective than any managerial supervision. More independence allows the employees to appreciate their genuine input into the functional effectiveness of their organisation.
Academic libraries, whose organisational structure has for centuries remained highly complex and strictly hierarchical in nature, are now facing the necessity to transform the stable, traditional employee relationship towards greater flexibility and more varied operation. Is it possible, and if so, to what extent can power be delegated in the specific environment of an academic library? This paper attempts to address this and other similar issues as a voice in a broader discussion, for there is no doubt that the problem of empowerment involves numerous dangers not thoroughly discussed herein.