Elaboration of leadership and culture in high-performing nursing units of hospitals as perceived by staff nurses

Jesus M. Casida, Patrick C. Crane, Tara L. Walker, Lisa M. Wargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The leadership-culture phenomenon, a known explanatory construct for organizational performance, is understudied in nursing. Building on our previous work, we further addressed this knowledge gap through explorations of demographics and hospital variables which may have a significant influence on staff nurses' (SNs) perceptions of their nurse managers' (NMs) leadership and nursing unit culture. Furthermore, we explored the extent to which the NMs' leadership predicted specific cultures which typify nursing unit effectiveness. Using dissertation data provided by 278 SNs, we found that SNs educated at the baccalaureate level or higher had favorable perceptions of their nursing unit performance and viewed their NMs' leadership differently than the SNs with diploma or associate degrees. The frequent portrayals of transformational (TFL) leadership behaviors (e.g., visionary) by the NMs were paramount in shaping culture traits which exemplify high performance outcomes. TFL leaders were more likely to shape unit cultures which are flexible and adaptive to the environmental challenges within and outside the nursing unit. Thus, the type of NMs' leadership and unit culture may provide an added value in explaining the performance level in patient care units which consequently affects the overall hospital/organizational outcomes. Implications for research and leadership practices are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-261
Number of pages21
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Leadership/culture in acute and critical-care units
  • Nurse manager leadership
  • Nursing unit performance
  • Organizational culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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