Conflict management and organizational climate: head nurse styles and staff nurse perceptions.
ABSTRACT Conflict is expected in organizational life, and, when managed appropriately, organizations change, adapt, and survive. The first-line manager or head nurse in hospital organizations is critical to the management of conflict on a patient care unit. Organizational climate has been demonstrated to be another important variable in understanding work organizations, and the personality or organizational climate of a unit may be determined by how conflict is managed. The purpose of this study was to examine the assumption that there was a relationship between conflict management style of the head nurse and staff nurse perception of organizational climate. Five research questions guided this exploratory descriptive study and addressed head nurse conflict management styles, staff nurse perceptions of unit organizational climate, demographics, and predictions of these variables on the construct of openness. The Nurse Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire (NOCDQ-B) was used to collect data on perceptions of organizational climate from 405 staff nurses in 37 medical-surgical units in 12 hospitals across the Wasatch Front in Utah. The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) was used to determine the conflict management styles of 37 head nurses on these units. Mean scores were used to determine the most preferred style of head nurses. Factor analyses assessed the applicability of the NOCDQ-B to the staff nurse sample, and the same six subscales others used were retained. After the factor analysis and reliability procedures were accomplished, these data were used to construct an indicator of organizational and unit openness. The most preferred conflict management style was compromising, with collaborating second and avoiding third. Styles by individual hospital and by hospital control also were examined, but no significant differences were found. Analysis of variance demonstrated significant differences in perceptions of unit openness by individual staff nurses but not by hospital or by hospital control. Age of both staff and head nurse was the only significant finding in this study. Head nurses were less likely to use the accommodating style. The older the staff nurse, the more likely the medical-surgical unit was described as open. Doctor of Philosophy;