Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Jack E. Robinson

Committee Member

John DeRolf

Committee Member

Loretta Cornelius

Committee Member

Robert Lucking

Committee Member

Donald A. Myers


Absence of educational programs designed to develop a specific leadership style has prompted educators in nursing administration to consider designing such programs. As the cost of hospital care escalates and the recruitment and retention of individuals into hospital nursing remains problematic, it is essential that methods be developed to address these issues. This study described the educational processes experienced by transformational nurse leaders employed in urban hospitals. By discovering the relative importance and amount of these activities for nurses identified as transformational leaders, data are provided for the design and testing of educational programs created to enhance a transformational leadership style.

Findings from this ex post facto study revealed that transformational hospital nurse leaders had significantly more informal education and perceived that education to be more important than hospital nurse leaders with a lesser degree of transformational leadership. The importance of informal education as a contributor to leadership development was also explained by the amount of leadership experience and the type of academic nursing program completed by study participants. In addition the nurse leader group with a high degree of transformational leadership reported experiencing significantly higher amounts of formal leadership content and more exposure to a variety of teaching strategies. Methodological triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data resulted in corroboration of findings.

The most important informal educational experience for those nurse leaders with a high degree of transformational leadership was having a mentor. Regardless of degree of transformational leadership, study participants described having participated in learning activities that utilized group discussion to solve immediate work related problems as critical to development of their leadership style. The role of the teacher as a facilitator of discussion through provision of a supportive environment and clearly communicated expertise was also a major factor.

Findings from this study suggest that educational programs using adult learning concepts are more important as a contributor to leadership development for this sample regardless of degree of transformational leadership. As distinct differences in leadership attitude and view of the organizational environment according to degree of transformational leadership were consistently reported on interview, further investigation of these variables are recommended. Design and testing of an educational program intended to enhance transformational leadership style is also recommended.