Date of Award

Spring 1994

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Krejci, Janet Wessel

Second Advisor

Malin, Shelly

Third Advisor

Coenen, Amy


In this study, nurse managers were asked to describe their perceptions of empowerment within the context of the continuous quality improvement (CQI) process. The purposive sample consisted of nine nurse managers employed at three community hospitals, all affiliated with the same healthcare system. A review of the literature indicated that the concept of empowerment is not clearly defined and is often a confusing construct. Data were collected through interviews using four open-ended questions developed by the investigator. Thematic content analysis of the transcribed audio taped interviews revealed that the basis of empowerment rested with four basic characteristics: Power to the most knowledgeable of the process; personal self confidence and positive self-esteem; the freedom to voice and become involved; and autonomy and leadership in relation to the provision and acceptance of responsibility and accountability. Supports to empowerment were identified as variables in the overall environment that promote trust in terms of: a) willingness to let go and willingness to accept; b) access to education and information: and c) positive relationships between members of the organization. Constraints to empowerment were defined in terms of fear associated with change which related to old paradigms and shilling of control, life changes, and oppression. Implications for nurse managers include: recognition of empowerment as an integral concept within the scope of their work; recognition that adoption of the mission and vision of the organization and CQI principles into work is fundamental to gaining an understanding and actualization of empowerment; recognition that building of relationships between all members of the organization is central to enacting empowerment and attention to development of these relationships should be made a focus of nurse manager work; recognition that the provision of opportunities for growth of these relationships into a leadership model is crucial to the actualization of empowerment and a significant role of the nurse manager.



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