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Examining the relationships between span of control and manager job and unit performance outcomes

Authors

  • Carol A. Wong RN, PhD,

    Associate Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Health Sciences Addition (HSA), The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
    • Correspondence

      Carol A. Wong

      Faculty of Health Sciences

      Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing

      Room H27, Health Sciences Addition (HSA)

      The University of Western Ontario

      1151 Richmond Street

      London

      Ontario N6A 5C1

      Canada

      E-mail: cwong2@uwo.ca

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  • Pat Elliott-Miller RN, MScN,

    Vice President, Patient Services and Chief Nurse Executive
    1. Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Heather Laschinger RN, PhD,

    Distinguished University Professor
    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Health Sciences Addition (HSA), The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
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  • Michael Cuddihy LLB, MHA,

    Senior Vice President
    1. Human Resources, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Raquel M. Meyer RN, PhD,

    Manager
    1. Baycrest Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Margaret Keatings RN, MHSc,

    Vice President Professional Practice and Chief Nurse Executive
    1. The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Camille Burnett DSW, RN, BScN, MPA, PhD,

    Assistant Professor and Roberts Scholar
    1. Department of Family, Community and Mental Health Systems, University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
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  • Natalie Szudy PhD

    Research Coordinator
    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Health Sciences Addition (HSA), The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
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Abstract

Aim

Our aim was to examine the combination of frontline manager (FLM) personal characteristics and span of control (SOC) on their job and unit performance outcomes.

Background

Healthcare downsizing and reform have contributed to larger spans for FLMs in Canadian hospitals and increased concerns about manager workload. Despite a heightened awareness of SOC issues among decision makers, there is limited empirical evidence related to the effects of SOC on outcomes.

Methods

A non-experimental predictive survey design was used to examine FLM SOC in 14 Canadian academic hospitals. Managers (= 121) completed an online survey of work characteristics and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) SOC tool. Unit turnover data were collected from organisational databases.

Results

The combination of SOC and core self-evaluation significantly predicted role overload, work control and job satisfaction, but only SOC predicted unit adverse outcomes and neither significantly predicted unit turnover.

Conclusions

The findings contribute to an understanding of connections between the combination of SOC and core self-evaluation and manager job and unit performance outcomes.

Implications for nursing management

Organisational strategies to create manageable FLM SOC are essential to ensure exemplary job and unit outcomes. Core self-evaluation is a personality characteristic that may enhance manager performance in the face of high spans of control.

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