|The transformation from an industrial to a knowledge age has brought about a fast-changing world-focus and a competitive economy. The nursing profession, as part of the larger economy, is challenged by this transformation due to globalisation, internationalisation, capitalism within a consumer society, an ageing workforce, staff shortages, international migration and advanced technology. It is argued that these challenges are impacting directly on the nursing profession as a part of the global economy. This impact is intensified due to the ethos of nursing that is evaluated from a profit perspective and does not value the core values of nursing, that of caring and trust. The managerial strategies that are applied in nursing does not sufficiently harness and direct nurses. Focus is placed on nurse leaders as crucial role players in directing the nursing profession in peril. A call was made by followers for a different type of nurse leaders to lead this challenged profession, in an international arena. Social capital, being an abstract and multi-facet concept is presented as a possible framework to assist with the above crisis. Extremely limited literature was found on the utilisation of social capital to develop nurse leadership amongst these challenges.
The research question, and later comprehensive aim, was formulated to examine how a theory in Nursing Science for authentic leadership embedded in a social capital framework, can be constructed. Theory construction of a middle-range theory was conducted in three phases. Phase One implied concept identification, descriptions, definitions and analysis. The actual theory construction was achieved in Phase Two, whilst Phase Three detailed the theory evaluation and guidelines for operationalisation. Main and related concepts were identified as agent, recipient, context, procedure, goal and dynamics. Data collection was conducted by means of a comprehensive literature search of all available national and international literature and included theories, textbooks and articles. Data saturation was achieved after no new information surfaced, n=188.
The main concepts, authentic leadership (agent) and social capital (procedure) underwent a comprehensive concept analysis. Related concepts, namely the professional nurse (recipient), South African hospitals (context), positive impact on the triple bottom line (goal) and trust (dynamics) underwent a literature analysis.
The theory was graphically portrayed and described by means of a model. The theory was submitted to a panel of experts (n=6). The panel was selected following purposive sampling due to specific inclusion criteria for expertise in social capital, and/or leadership and/or theory construction. The evaluation of the theory was conducted according to a specific framework for critical reflection. Guidelines for the operationalisation of the theory were formulated on a macro-, meso- and micro-level. The final step was the evaluation of the research and recommendations were made.