Martin, John. The Responsibility Virus. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

The author, a former consultant with Michael Porter's Monitor Group, offers the following qualitative assessment of employee involvement programs:

"[The "empowerment" school] argues that power is held too centrally at the top. The theory is that a military-style, hierarchical command-and-control approach disempowers members of the organization who, feeling like pawns in a game or puppets controlled by a powerful master, underachieve relative to their actual abilities. This line of thinking suggests that if leaders loosened their controlling grip and relentlessly pushed down choice-making responsibility and accountability in their organizations, they would unleash a tidal wave of enthusiastic action and collaboration by their now-empowered colleagues. According to this argument, such empowered organizations would out-compete their command-and-control competitors.

"I watched this movement play out in a number of my consulting clients and saw little of its promise realized. Instead, I witnessed a high rate of failure. "Empowered" employees rarely felt the enthusiasm predicted and did not produce the tidal wave of positive action forecast. Throwing high levels of responsibility on them on the basis of the empowerment doctrine rather than in relation to their underlying capabilities was more likely to produce disempowerment, confusion, and low morale."