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Impact of Structural and Psychological Empowerment on Job Strain in Nursing Work Settings: Expanding Kanter’s Model

Spence Laschinger, Heather K. PhD, RN; Finegan, Joan PhD; Shamian, Judith PhD, RN; Wilk, Piotr MA

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: May 2001 - Volume 31 - Issue 5 - p 260-272

Objective In this study, we tested an expanded model of Kanter’s structural empowerment, which specified the relationships among structural and psychological empowerment, job strain, and work satisfaction.

Background Strategies proposed in Kanter’s empowerment theory have the potential to reduce job strain and improve employee work satisfaction and performance in current restructured healthcare settings. The addition to the model of psychological empowerment as an outcome of structural empowerment provides an understanding of the intervening mechanisms between structural work conditions and important organizational outcomes.

Methods A predictive, nonexperimental design was used to test the model in a random sample of 404 Canadian staff nurses. The Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire, the Psychological Empowerment Questionnaire, the Job Content Questionnaire, and the Global Satisfaction Scale were used to measure the major study variables.

Results Structural equation modelling analyses revealed a good fit of the hypothesized model to the data based on various fit indices (χ2 = 1140, df = 545, χ2/df ratio = 2.09, CFI = 0.986, RMSEA = 0.050). The amount of variance accounted for in the model was 58%. Staff nurses felt that structural empowerment in their workplace resulted in higher levels of psychological empowerment. These heightened feelings of psychological empowerment in turn strongly influenced job strain and work satisfaction. However, job strain did not have a direct effect on work satisfaction.

Conclusions These results provide initial support for an expanded model of organizational empowerment and offer a broader understanding of the empowerment process.

Heather K. Spence Laschinger, PhD, RN, Professor and Associate Director Nursing Research,, School of Nursing,

Joan Finegan, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario,

Judith Shamian, PhD, RN, Executive Director of Nursing Policy,

Piotr Wilk, MA, Department of Sociology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario. Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario,

Funded by SSHRC Extramural Grants Program Grant #410-93-0611.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.