Abstract Kanter's structural theory of power in organizations provided the conceptual framework for this comparative study on perceptions of power of two levels of nurses working in three public health agencies during a time of program transition. Forty-six public health nurses and 10 nurse managers were surveyed to examine their perceptions of the amount of power existing in their own and their counterparts' jobs. Propositions from Kanter's theory were supported by the data. Both groups rated their work environments to be somewhat low in power, although managers perceived themselves to be significantly more empowered in their work environments than did staff nurses. In addition, staff nurses perceived themselves to have significantly less access to empowerment structures (opportunity, information, support, and resources) than their managers perceived them to have. Staff nurse empowerment was found to be significantly related to perceptions of their immediate managers' power in the organization.