Making sense of the Director of Nursing structural positioning in New Zealand public hospitals (2006-2012) : a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Massey University
This dissertation reports on research examining and analyzing nursing leadership structures in New Zealand public hospitals, and in particular, the Director of Nursing (DoN) structural positioning. Leadership in hospital nursing is critical if the profession is to meet the challenges facing health services in the 21st century. The research has been undertaken using case study methodology and focuses on how organizational decision-making structures have impacted on nursing leadership in public hospitals. ‘Sense-making’ has been used as a theoretical construct to understand both the formal and informal structures that influence organizational decision-making. Phase one of the research involved examining twenty District Health Board (DHB) organizational and nursing charts. In phase two and three, the Directors of Nursing (DoNs) and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) were surveyed using a series of demographic and qualitative questions to draw out understanding of the Director of Nursing (DoN) role. The research has found that the constructs of power and authority influence the decision making processes at the executive level of the DHB. An analysis of the data indicates that the current structural positioning of the DoN is hindered by the existing dual accountability line reporting structures in DHBs and this is a barrier to alignment with Magnet hospital principles which provide evidence of effective patient outcomes. The focus primarily adopted by District Health Boards on professional line reporting only for nursing is not conducive to achieving effective and safe patient outcomes as it removes authority from the DoN and yet places unrealisticexpectations on accountability of how the DoN can achieve effective and safe patient outcomes within the public hospital setting.