Employee empowerment can lead to work engagement; however, this process may be influenced by employees' cultural values and beliefs. This quantitative study focused on the efficacy of employee empowerment in organisational management practices and performance within the Chinese cultural setting. Specifically, we examined the impacts of empowering leadership on work engagement, with psychological empowerment functioning as a mediator and cultural orientation as a moderator. Based on a sample of 498 frontline employees in five upscale or luxury hotels in Beijing, China, findings revealed that empowering leadership was positively correlated with work engagement and psychological empowerment. Psychological empowerment partially mediated the relationship between empowering leadership and work engagement. Chinese hotel frontline employees generally perceived a low power distance orientation and high collectivist orientation in the workplace. Power distance orientation was the only moderator of the effect of empowering leadership on psychological empowerment. Theoretical and practical contributions are discussed.