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The Difficult Empowerment in Danish Hospital: Power to the nurses!?

Research output: Working paperResearch

  • Afdeling for Virksomhedsledelse
The employee empowerment literature promises better organizational performance as well as more motivated and satisfied employees. However, this literature often neglects the specific context of public services in general, or the health care sector, hospitals, and nursing in particular. Nurses in Danish public hospitals work in a unique situation that makes the uncritical transfer of empowerment interventions intended to redesign their work difficult or even unfeasible. Analysis from an institutional perspective of the ongoing power struggle between agens of change at several levels in the Danish health care field indicates how norms originating from the public bureaucracy and medical comminities constrain such micro-level change initiatives. According to an organizational change perspective, narrow interventions would likely be inadequate, since conflict is likely given the particular characteristics of public organizations, and the specific attitudes of physicians and politicians and their desire to control the hospital sector. At the same time, this paper also emphasizes that the empowerment concept is likely to appeal to hospital managers and nurses in the Danish public hospital sector, since it builds on the nursing professions's self-conceptualization and is associated with better organizational performance. Our analysis starts by clarifying the concept of "nursing empowerment", and then applies a field perspective on Danish hospitals in order to identify the forces that may limit the possibility of empowering nurses and nursing. Based on this analysis, we discuss how to bring about successful nursing empowerment interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationAarhus
PublisherInstitut for Økonomi, Aarhus Universitet
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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