Front-line managers as boundary spanners: effects of span and time on nurse supervision satisfaction

Wiley: 12 months
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Nursing Management, 2011, 19 (5), pp. 611 - 622
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Aim To examine the influence of nurse manager span (number of direct report staff), time in staff contact, transformational leadership practices and operational hours on nurse supervision satisfaction. Background Increasing role complexity has intensified the boundary spanning functions of managers. Because work demands and scope vary by management position, time in staff contact rather than span may better explain managersâ capacity to support staff. Methods A descriptive, correlational design was used to collect cross-sectional survey and prospective work log and administrative data from a convenience sample of 558 nurses in 51 clinical areas and 31 front-line nurse managers from four acute care hospitals in 2007â2008. Data were analysed using hierarchical linear modelling. Results Span, but not time in staff contact, interacted with leadership and operational hours to explain supervision satisfaction. Conclusions With compressed operational hours, supervision satisfaction was lower with highly transformational leadership in combination with wider spans. With extended operational hours, supervision satisfaction was higher with highly transformational leadership, and this effect was more pronounced under wider spans. Implications for Nursing Management Operational hours, which influence the managerâs daily span (average number of direct report staff working per weekday), should be factored into the design of front-line management positions.
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