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  1. Laborde, Sarah A. MA
  2. Lee, Jo Ann PhD


Objective: This research was designed to identify skills (interpersonal versus technical) important to promotion within the nursing profession. Also studied was the difference between actual and perceived importance of the skills.


Background: For many technical and academic professions, career advancement is attained through promotions. These promotions often take one further away from the front line; thus, the technical skills so important in one's early career become less important. Interpersonal skills, on the other hand, increase in importance when one is supervising other professionals. Though research has described this phenomenon, it is not known exactly where the shift in importance occurs or what the precise nature of the shift may be. Further research in this area is particularly important to management development programs in technical, scientific professions.


Methods: A policy-capturing approach was used to identify the skills important to managerial advancement in the nursing profession. Two hundred nineteen nurse administrators from a large Southeastern United States hospital rated hypothetical candidates for managerial positions. At the lowest-level management position studied, a greater number of technical skills significantly influenced promotion decisions than at middle management. Significant differences were found between decision-makers' perceptions of skill importance and the skills' actual importance to promotion decisions.


Results: The present research indicate that a greater number of technical skills are important for promotion to CN3 than for promotion to ANM. The results also suggest decision-makers are not always 100% accurate in their insight regarding the specific factors influencing their personnel decisions.