Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to examine the extent of employee empowerment within Australian manufacturing business units using an adapted version of the Pardo del Val and Lloyd instrument. The paper also examines the influence of organizational (business unit size, training, and link to rewards) and cultural (innovation, team work, and outcome orientation) factors on the extent of adoption of employee empowerment. Design/methodology/approach - Data was collected by survey questionnaire distributed to one business unit within 250 manufacturing organizations. Findings - The results reveal a moderate level of employee empowerment in Australian organizations, with the cultural factor, teamwork, and the organizational factors, training and link to rewards, found to have a significant impact on the overall level of adoption of employee empowerment. In addition, specific cultural and organizational factors were found to be associated with four different dimensions of employee empowerment (collaboration, formalization, directness, and degree of influence), and the empowerment of employees at three different stages of the decision making process. Practical implications - The Pardo del Val and Lloyd measure provides a means by which organizations can gain an improved insight into their current employee empowerment initiatives and assess the critical preconditions that are most effective in enhancing employee empowerment initiatives. Originality/value - This study confirms the validity of a new measure of employee empowerment. Furthermore, the study provides the first empirical analysis of the association between organizational and cultural factors with the level of employee empowerment as assessed by this measure.