Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 27(2) June 2014 : 42-55.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2014.23837
Nursing Research

Boundary Spanning by Nurse Managers: Effects of Managers’ Characteristics and Scope of Responsibility on Teamwork

Raquel M. Meyer, Linda O'Brien-Pallas, Diane Doran, David Streiner and Christine Duffield


Increasing role complexity has intensified the work of managers in supporting healthcare teams. This study examined the influence of front-line managers' characteristics and scope of responsibility on teamwork. Scope of responsibility considers the breadth of the manager's role. A descriptive, correlational design was used to collect cross-sectional survey and administrative data in four acute care hospitals. A convenience sample of 754 staff completed the Relational Coordination Scale as a measure of teamwork that focuses on the quality of communication and relationships. Nurses (73.9%), allied health professionals (14.7%) and unregulated staff (11.7%) worked in 54 clinical areas, clustered under 30 front-line managers. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modelling. Leadership practices, clinical support roles and compressed operational hours had positive effects on teamwork. Numbers of non-direct report staff and areas assigned had negative effects on teamwork. Teamwork did not vary by span, managerial experience, worked hours, occupational diversity or proportion of full-time employees. Large, acute care teaching hospitals can enable managers to foster teamwork by enhancing managers' leadership practices, redesigning the flow or reporting structure for non-direct reports, optimizing managerial hours relative to operational hours, allocating clinical support roles, reducing number of areas assigned and, potentially, introducing co-manager models.




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