implementation of present and future transmission of health care (Cook, 2001; Drach- Zahavy & Dagat, 2002; Doherty, 2003; Williams, 2004). Not only does the role act as an agent for success for the implementation of key organisational strategies but, as Cook argues, such leadership can directly impact on staff morale. Staff morale can decrease by constant change, a feature evident in health care (Tourangeau & McGilton, 2004). Tourangeau and McGilton argue that continued instability and change through the delivery of health care will see tension persist between the supply of cost effective health care and the corresponding demand for health care workers. Clegg (2001) analyses this constant adaptation and classifies it as an ongoing stressor for nurses. Leadership style, Clegg asserts, is associated with a reduction in such stressors.
International research while acknowledging the pivotal place that the clinical nurse leader occupies, and the dual functions of the role (leadership and management), also points out the need to formalise the requisite professional development (Oroviogoicoehea, 1996; Cook, 2001; Duffield et al., 2001; Firth, 2002; Connelly et al., 2003; Stanley, 2004). These researchers have employed various qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches to direct their inquiry. There is international consensus about the significance of the role and the need to enhance the functions of the role with education on fiscal management (Mills, 2005; Kupperschmidt & Barnhouse, 2006). The limited New Zealand research carried out on this role describes, similarly to international researchers, that the role is key in the successful implementation of organisational changes or initiatives (Drummond, 2002; Kan, 2002; Williams, 2004).
It is fair to say understanding about the role has grown from such work. This project aimed to contribute to this existing body of knowledge by working alongside those in the role to define the role. The background to the research objective was that I believed that role evolution and support should be cognisant of this vital perspective. The research outcomes from the project needed to be accessible to the communities they practised within and written in language that they could readily interpret. Communication of intent and usefulness of knowledge is extremely important to me. Greenwood and Levin (2005) reinforce my belief when they encapsulate the importance of the applicability of research.