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Objective: The author developed and tested a model formulated to determine what combination of organizational, leadership, and personal characteristics maximize the prediction of registered nurse empowerment in an acute care hospital.


Background: Recent innovations in patient care delivery and nursing governance are more successful with an empowered nursing staff. However, the contexts for empowerment and management practices that foster empowerment are poorly understood. Previous empowerment studies suggest that personal characteristics such as age, experience, and education are related to empowerment. Additionally, specific leadership practices and organizational cultures have been shown to foster empowerment.


Methods: Registered nurses (N = 113) who were employed in an academic health center participated in the study. Participants completed measures of organizational culture, connective leadership, empowerment, and a demographic questionnaire designed to elicit the personal characteristics included in the model.


Results: Regression analysis identified constructive organizational culture and connective leadership as positive predictors of empowerment, whereas defensive culture was a negative predictor. The three variables combined to explain 45% of the variance in empowerment (P < 0.001). Personal characteristics were not significant predictors, but education and position level were significantly related to connective leadership (P < 0.01).


Conclusions: The Registered Nurse Empowerment Model can serve as a framework for identifying and targeting areas requiring organizational change. The quantitative measures for organizational culture, connective leadership, and empowerment provide practical assessment and evaluation tools for data-based change. Education programs for nurses at all levels should address the behaviors and strategies that promote constructive cultures and connective leadership, minimize defensive cultures, and thus, foster empowerment of nursing staff.