With nursing shortages reaching crisis proportions, staff nurses need to believe that nurse managers are supportive. However, evidence exists that staff nurses view nurse managers as moving away from basic nursing values. Using an exploratory philosophical approach, the authors examine this issue as a function of differing ethical frameworks used by nurses and nurse managers. The main question is whether nurse managers are expected to subscribe to a corporate ethic versus a nursing ethic in making decisions, and whether these approaches are fundamentally different. The authors' supposition was that exposing differences might account for some dissatisfaction that nurses express with regard to nursing leadership. They conclude that there are differences of emphasis in ethical principles that may cause tension. Incongruencies between corporate and individual values emerge under fiscal constraints and with differing perceptions, expectations and decision-making criteria. This paper offers suggestions to help staff nurses and nurse managers reduce tensions experienced when difficult choices, particularly those of resource allocation, are required.
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