UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Staff nurses' perceptions of their power bases in a nursing care setting Watson, Karen Elizabeth


The purpose of this study was to describe staff nurses' perceptions of their power bases in their work environment. Power, the capacity to set conditions, make decisions and take action that influences others, is an increasingly important issue within the nursing profession. In the nursing literature, nurses have been encouraged to consider the power to influence nursing care as an attainable goal and a necessary element in the change process. Empowering staff nurses may become a strategy for coping with the nursing manpower shortage. However, research about nursing power has focused on the nurse manager and little is written about staff nurses' perception of their power. A grounded theory research design was used to collect and analyze data. Data were collected through interviews of nine staff nurses in a 369 bed British Columbia community hospital. A comparative content analysis was used to analyze the data. The findings showed that the staff nurse participants were able to recognize certain factors in their work environment that impacted on their sense of power. The nature of nurses' work and the communication of information were found to be the most significant factors. The communication of information was perceived to positively influence nurses' sense of power, while the nature of nurses' work was found to limit nurses' sense of power. Nurses' lack of control over client care was found to contribute to a sense of powerlessness and was linked to units using team nursing. The eight power bases outlined in Randolph's framework, were useful as a basis for describing the staff nurses' perceptions of their organizational power bases. The staff nurses studied were found to have the most affinity for referent, expert, information, and connection power bases. These nurses were found to have the least affinity for reward, coercion, legitimate, and resource power bases. Primary nursing was found to enhance legitimate power while team nursing was found to enhance connection power. The source of power most frequently mentioned by the nurse participants was personal power in relation to oneself. This did not fit into Randolph's framework and was not well defined. This has implications for nursing since support for the professional nature of nurses' work was found to strenghthen nurses' sense of personal power. Knowledge about the perceptions described by the subjects in this investigation provides information to assist nurses' to identify power bases that they may not recognize. As well, increased understanding about staff nurses' perceptions of power should enable nursing administration to identify strategies for retaining nurses and enhancing client care.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.