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The boundary-spanning behavior of nurses

The role of support and affective organizational commitment

De Regge, Melissa; Van Baelen, Freek; Aerens, Sander; Deweer, Tine; Trybou, Jeroen

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000210
Features: PDF Only

Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between organizational, supervisor, and coworker support, as perceived by registered nurses and their boundary-spanning behaviors. Furthermore, this article examines the mediating role of the affective organizational commitment of nurses in these relationships.

Background: Registered nurses play a key role in hospitals, as they have an important impact on the quality of the services delivered. For nurses to perform at their best, they need organizational, leader, and coworker support. To date, few studies have explored the link between nurses’ perceived support, affective organizational commitment, and boundary-spanning behaviors.

Methods: This cross-sectional research used a questionnaire survey to explore the hypothesized relationships in a sample of 273 nurses from a hospital in Belgium. Structural equation modeling was used for statistical analysis of the mediation model.

Results: One hundred forty-seven (53.5%) nurses responded to the survey. Perceived support from the organization, supervisors, and coworkers positively influences nurses’ boundary-spanning behaviors. Affective organizational commitment was found to mediate the positive relationship between perceived organization support, perceived coworker support, and boundary-spanning behaviors. Perceived supervisor support and boundary-spanning behaviors showed a direct relationship not mediated by affective organizational commitment.

Conclusions: Perceived support has an important influence on the boundary-spanning behavior of nurses. This study emphasizes the importance on how support exerts an influence on boundary-spanning behavior and underscores the importance of affective organizational commitment. Health care organizations, supervisors, and coworkers are essential in fostering boundary-spanning behaviors of nurses, both directly and through the development of affective organizational commitment. These actors should therefore be aware of the way they behave and the implications their behavior may have.

Melissa De Regge, RN, MSc, PhD, is Visiting Professor, Department of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Service Management, Ghent University, and is University Expert, Strategic Policy Cell, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium. E-mail:

Freek Van Baelen, MSc, is Lecturer, Department of Commercial Economics and Entrepreneurship, University College Ghent, Belgium.

Sander Aerens, RN, MSc, is Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Department of Geriatrics, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.

Tine Deweer, RN, MSc, is Assistant Head Nurse, General Hospital Glorieux, Ronse, Belgium.

Jeroen Trybou, MSc, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Health Care Management & Policy, Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Belgium.

The study protocol was approved by the institutional review boards and the ethical committee of Ghent University Hospital (OG 017) with number 067020 142-3087.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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