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The impact of supervisor-nurse relationships, patient role clarity, and autonomy upon job satisfaction: Public and private sector nurses

  • Kate Shacklock (a1), Yvonne Brunetto (a2) and Rod Farr-Wharton (a3)


In the Australian healthcare sector, many changes in the public sector have affected nurse management and thereby, nurses. Yet it is unclear whether such efficiency measures, based on private sector business models, have impacted private sector nurses in similar ways. This paper examines four important issues for nurses: supervisor–subordinate relationships; perceptions of autonomy; role clarity in relation to patients; and job satisfaction. The paper uses an embedded mixed methods research design to examine the four issues and then compares similarities and differences between public and private sector nurses. The findings suggest supervisor–subordinate relationships, patient role clarity and autonomy significantly predict job satisfaction. The private sector nurses reported more satisfaction than public sector nurses with their supervisor–subordinate relationships, plus higher perceptions of patient role clarity and autonomy, and hence, higher levels of job satisfaction. The findings raise questions about whether present management practices (especially public sector) optimise service delivery productivity.



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