Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Empowerment of nursing staff is essential to survival in today's health care market. As managed care dictates the reimbursements to facilities, nurses must work more efficiently and minimize costs at every opportunity. Therefore, many facilities are restructuring their administrative teams and eliminating management levels (Porter-O'Grady, 1995). This directly affects the staff by taking away the one manager one unit concept and giving one manager several units to oversee. Empowerment of unit decisions, such as workflow and system issues, is now given to staff to analyze and make decisions. This non-experimental quantitative investigation examined the effect of the manager's leadership style on empowerment of the nursing staff. The investigation used self-reporting and was a partial replication of the Morrison, Jones, and Fuller's (1997) study on the relationship between leadership style and empowerment on job satisfaction of nurses. Klakovich's Reciprocal Empowerment Instrument (1995) was used to measure empowerment. Bass's Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (1985) was used to determine staffs evaluation of the type of leadership behavior of their leader. The convenience sample of nursing staff (N = 29) was from the Medical and Surgical Units of two acute care facilities. The hospitals are comparable in bed size, patients they serve, unit staffing structure and administrative leadership structure. The relationship between the educational level of the staff nurse and the felt empowerment was explored. The one-way ANOVA test found no significant relationship between the two variables in three of the four units investigated. This finding differed from Klakovich's (1995) study since it had shown a relationship that higher levels of education lead to connective leadership, and higher responsibility lead to empowerment. The one unit that showed a significant finding did not have any higher level of education than the other units. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation, however, showed a significant relationship between the type of leadership style being used and empowerment. The staff felt empowered when their leader used transformational leadership. In Facility I, there was a significant relationship between the variables of the MLQ (leadership styles) and the RES (empowerment). Results for Unit A showed that 31% of the time nurses felt they were empowered (r=.558 and r[squared] = .311). This was also true for Facility I, as those results were 71% of the time in Unit B since (r = .842 and r [squared] = .710). Facility 2 Unit A showed a 72% correlation of the two variables with (r = .720 and r[squared] = .517). Facility 2 Unit B had a 97% with (r = .999 and r[squared] = .969). The t-test showed that all four unit leaders used transformational leadership somewhat. Findings showed that some staff members felt the leader used transformational leadership consistently while other members of the same unit felt that less transformational leadership was being used. Some staff felt much empowered while other staff felt less to no empowerment. Conclusions from these findings are that transformational leadership has a strong relationship with the amount of felt empowerment by staff nurses. However, there was not a relationship supported in the higher level of education and felt amount of empowerment. As facilities interview to hire new leaders into an organization, in order to have the highest level of empowered staff, transformational leaders must be recruited and hired. Current leaders must be trained to use the transformational leadership style and rewarded when they succeed. Commitment from administration must be there to facilitate empowered leaders so they can integrate empowerment with the staff. In today's health care market empowerment can be a positive productive system for a facility if commitment, training and rewards are offered for the implementation phase and if the use of empowerment is continued.


Mary R. Hassett

Date of Award

Fall 2000

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2000 Barbara J. King


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