Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Dissertation Committee Chair

Carol Bova


Nurses, Academic Medical Centers, Leadership, Organizational Innovation

Subject Categories

Health and Medical Administration | Leadership Studies | Nursing | Nursing Administration | Organizational Behavior and Theory


The characteristics of nurses acting as organizational champions, as well as the ways that clinical leaders systematically harness the energy of these champions in support of innovation, were explored in this qualitative descriptive study. The specific aims were guided by prior empirical evidence and identified research needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 formal nursing leaders (e.g. managers, educators, administration) in an academic medical center. This study, including the interview guide, was informed by Kouzes and Posner’s (2007) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. Two models were developed to describe the data. Overall, participants echoed prior empirical findings identifying a need for organizational champions’ support of innovation and explained how some nurses seem to have “innate” characteristics that make them champions. Participants identified the champion as the “go to” person who can see the bigger picture and who seems to “own their own practice”. They described the importance of being truly present on the unit in order to harness the energy of these champions. Once champions are identified, leaders match the champions’ talents to the innovation planned, secure buy in from the champions, and actively work to support champions and get a culture of innovation “in the drinking water.” This work enhances the leader’s experience and makes him/her feel inspired and engaged. The two models developed based on the participants’ description of their experience working with staff nurses acting as organizational champions provide a framework for clinical leaders to identify and engage organizational champions in their clinical areas in support of innovation.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.