Aim To provide an original perspective on the power and status of first-line nurse managers by observing their working environment.
Background The role of first-line nurse managers includes clinical, administrative and managerial components, with their responsibilities not always reflected in their level of organizational power. The business literature suggests that an appropriately resourced workspace is not merely functional, it also confers power and status.
Method Twenty Australian rural nurse managers’ workspaces were observed, as part of a larger qualitative study that explored their role and organizational power using semi-structured interviews. The observational data consisted of detailed researcher notes that were analysed thematically.
Results The nurse managers’ workspaces were suboptimal and did not provide sufficient physical space or resources for the participants’ to manage tasks effectively. These results were considered using Kanter’s theory of organizational power.
Implications for nursing management The findings support those reported in the business literature that inadequate physical workspaces are counterproductive in terms of both functionality and organizational power. Suggestions are made regarding the workspace needs of first-line nurse managers, based on a closer alignment between the work environment and their role responsibilities. These findings have implications for decisions regarding organizational support of first-line nurse managers.