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most adequate for the purpose, the findings considered most appropriate and the framing and communication of conclusions” (p. 483). Action research was the methodology I chose to conduct this enquiry because central to this methodology is participation. Coghlan and Brannick (2005) assert that action researchers are concerned with the structure the knowledge will have, how it will be collected, who chooses the research agenda and who profits from it. Greenwood and Levin (2005) argue action research is a method of researching a question or line of inquiry that is committed to several basic elements, the endorsement of participation with a strong emphasis on democracy and action.

The potential for a partnership between myself as the action researcher (Coghlan & Brannick, 2005; Greenwood & Levin, 2005) and a group of CNLs resonated with my objective for the project. In order to look at how the evolution and support of the role could be both informed and improved, I wanted those in the role to collaboratively inquire with me. I would be inquiring as a researcher whilst an employee of the organisation where the research was conducted. From this position of employee, I had both observed and participated in clinical leadership roles. I had witnessed the effect of the reforms of the 1990s on clinical leadership as summarised by White (2004). White found that “the business model has left a legacy of economic accountability and an expectation that all aspects of healthcare provision are or will be able to be costed and this includes nursing care” (p. 192). I had considered how the selection and subsequent preparation for the role of CNL differed significantly throughout the organisation. Historically, the professional development component attached to the role was varied in content and informed by mainstream leadership/management theories. I was not convinced clinicians in the role were well supported or that a recent investment had been made to actually review the role and its accountabilities, although the position had been reviewed nationally in relation to salary (New Zealand Nursing Organisation, 2007). These perspectives, combined with my long standing interest in clinical leadership, resulted in the formation of the research questions and subsequent line of inquiry.

An amount of research preceding this inquiry has been completed. There is international agreement that the role of an effective clinical leader in nursing is key to the successful


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