Aim This study investigates whether first-line nurse managers in hospitals share common dispositions related to managerial work and leadership, what they are like, and what their relationship is with the various expectations set on them.
Methods The first data were collected by focus group interviews in the autumn of 2000 and analysed using qualitative content analysis and frame analysis. The second data set were part of a questionnaire survey addressed to the same managers in 2001 with a focus on their diverse leadership roles.
Results Among first-line nurse managers, the management frameworks of a nurturing mother and an administrative nurse displayed the strongest prominence, and the emphasis seemed to be evolving towards the administrative. The results from the survey confirmed the findings of this study in relation to first-line nurse managers’ management frameworks.
Conclusion The line of development found in this study may add to the permanence of operations and the stability of the operative culture at a university hospital. It may also diminish the opportunities for nursing development in university hospital wards and weaken the potential for a new kind of competence among both managers and their subordinates.