Boundary Management and Innovation in Nursing Teams

Tuesday, 23 July 2013: 10:45 AM

Mami Onishi, MSN
Deparntment of Nursing Administration, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Katsuya Kanda, PhD
Faculty of Nursing and Rehabilitation, Aino University, Osaka, Japan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify factors that could enhance innovation in nursing teams.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to think about and discuss the nurse managerís role in cultivating team innovation.


There is growing recognition that health care teams need to foster innovative processes to provide ongoing quality care. Nurse managers, as team leaders, should be responsible for cultivating team innovation. Management studies suggest that boundary management—efforts to establish and manage relationships with other groups within or between organizations—fosters information and resource transfer and knowledge creation and is associated with team innovation. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between boundary management behavior by nurse managers and innovative processes in their nursing teams.


A cross-sectional questionnaire was distributed to 5809 nurses in 231 teams working at acute care hospitals in Japan. The questionnaire included a scale developed by the authors to measure nurses’ perceptions of their nurse managers’ boundary management behaviors, such as managing a team’s collaborative relationships with other units and implementing external suggestions. Innovative process was measured by Anderson & West’s Team Climate Inventory (TCI). Demographic variables were also included. Variables were aggregated by team by computing the mean or ratio of the individual data. Four multiple regression analyses were performed using the TCI subscale scores as the dependent variables.


Questionnaires were received from 4788 nurses. Regression analyses revealed that a team’s boundary management score (a measure of the nurse manager’s behavior), mean years of service, and ratio of nurses with a bachelor’s or higher degree were each significantly associated with TCI subscale scores. The team boundary management score had the strongest associations with all of the four TCI subscales. The regressions produced an adjusted R square value of 0.31–0.46 (p<0.001).


Boundary management behavior by nurse managers is an effective way to foster an innovative climate in nursing teams and thus would be a useful indicator of a nurse manager’s excellence as team leader.