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Employee empowerment and customer satisfaction: an investigation from a UAE banking-sector perspective.

Shedid, Maha


Maha Shedid


Ken Russell


This study explores the relationship between the empowerment of front-line employees and service quality (in terms of customer satisfaction) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) banking industry. The UAE banking industry is a sector in which minimal research has been published. The connection between employee empowerment and customer satisfaction is well established in theory; however, how this relationship manifests in practice, especially in the Arabian Gulf region, has yet to be established. In this study, the researcher hypothesises that there are six antecedents of empowerment: (i) knowledge and skill; (ii) trust; (iii) job satisfaction; (iv) communication and information flow; (v) incentives and rewards; and (vi) role clarity. These six antecedents have a positive impact on the quality of service delivery by customer-contact employees. The empirical research of this study is based on both a quantitative approach (surveys, with a sample size of 393) and a qualitative methodology (twenty interviews; ten with front-line employees and ten with customers). Together, these two forms of data collection provide data triangulation. Statistical methods are used for the data analysis, in the form of factor analysis and multiple regression analysis. This study revealed that there is a lack of employee empowerment in the UAE banking sector, as bank employees do not have sufficient freedom to deal with customers or to handle problems. Employees had moderate levels of the following antecedents of empowerment: knowledge and skill, trust, communication and information flow, and role clarity. Employees in UAE banks felt that the current incentives and rewards system needs to be improved. Employees also felt that they were lacking loyalty and commitment to their employers. This finding is alarming, as un-empowered employees may eventually result in a less competitive UAE banking sector. Accordingly, the need to implement empowering practices that lead to employee autonomy and to increased competence in the banking industry is important for management to understand. The study concluded that: (1) Employee empowerment positively and significantly influenced employee satisfaction; and (2) Employee empowerment and employee satisfaction positively and significantly influenced customer satisfaction. The research generates significant empirical conclusions that can be beneficial to researchers, employers and employees in the financial services marketing industry. These findings are particularly important for bank managers, who are in the position of deciding on how best to increase their firm's market share through customer satisfaction. The thesis also contributes to the body of knowledge regarding the current employment trend, employees' perceptions of empowerment and its antecedents, and the cultural issues in relation to empowerment in the UAE banking sector. The aim of investigating the role of empowerment in both employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction is to add to the services-marketing discipline by examining the role of the empowered service employee in delivering a better-quality service in the UAE banking service sector. Several future research areas are recommended based on the study's findings and the self-critical appraisal discussed in the concluding chapter.


SHEDID, M. 2019. Employee empowerment and customer satisfaction: an investigation from a UAE banking-sector perspective. Robert Gordon University [online], PhD thesis. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 28, 2020
Keywords Customer service; Customer satisfaction; Employee empowerment; Employee satisfaction; Banking services; Financial services; United Arab Emirates
Public URL
Award Date Aug 31, 2019


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