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They criticised the number of university social scientists who interact as little as possible with the public on issues that are socially relevant and conduct research confined by language that is baffling to the people who are the recipients of it. Wallis (1998) sees action research as a plausible alternative to the more traditional approaches. The combination of the two commentaries of Greenwood and Levin and Wallis affirmed action research as my methodology of choice.

Significantly, and what positions the importance of this research, is a very recent editorial on clinical nursing leadership by Hyrkäs and Dende (2008). These writers observed from their review of clinical leadership in nursing that “we have not found a body of work that has captured the essence of the clinical nurse leader, the environment in which they operate or how and where the impact is felt” (p. 495). This project addresses some of these knowledge gaps.

Ethics approval for the project was granted by the Victoria University of Wellington Human Ethics Committee (see Appendix 1). In addition, I received permission from the Chief Executive Officer of the District Health Board (see Appendix 2) with a request to inform the Director of Nursing at the District Health Board of the research progress and outcome.


The District Health Board: The Setting

The responsibility for the provision of most public health services within New Zealand is devolved from the government to the DHBs. These organisations have evolved from the health service structure of the 1990s which, as already outlined, resulted in significant change for nursing. It is important to gain an understanding about the function of this DHB and its relationship with the role of CNL against the backdrop of such alterations. The formation of the DHBs was a direct result of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act (2000), as the legislative response by the government of the day to strengthen the public health system. The intention of the government was stipulated within the following objectives of the above Act:

  • to establish DHBs across the country;


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