Configurations of Leadership Practices in Hospital Units

Ninna Meier

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: – The purpose of this paper is to explore how leadership is practiced across four different hospital units.
Design/methodology/approach: – The study is a comparative case study of four hospital units, based on detailed observations of the everyday work practices, interactions and interviews with ten interdisciplinary clinical managers.
Findings: – Comparing leadership as configurations of practices across four different clinical settings, the author shows how flexible and often shared leadership practices were embedded in and central to the core clinical work in all units studied here, especially in more unpredictable work settings. Practices of symbolic work and emotional support to staff were particularly important when patients were severely ill.
Research limitations/implications: – Based on a study conducted with qualitative methods, these results cannot be expected to apply in all clinical settings. Future research is invited to extend the findings presented here by exploring leadership practices from a micro-level perspective in additional health care contexts: particularly the embedded and emergent nature of such practices.
Practical implications: – This paper shows leadership practices to be primarily embedded in the clinical work and often shared across organizational or professional boundaries.
Originality/value: – This paper demonstrated how leadership practices are embedded in the everyday work in hospital units. Moreover, the analysis shows how configurations of leadership practices varied in four different clinical settings, thus contributing with contextual accounts of leadership as practice, and suggested “configurations of practice” as a way to carve out similarities and differences in leadership practices across settings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Health, Organization and Management
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1115-1130
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Shared leadership
  • Clinical managers
  • Health care work
  • Hospital units
  • Leadership as practice
  • Emotional support

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