The background reports covering the ongoing reforms in Finnish social service and health care noted that people managing in this field were presented with certain challenges. These included such human resource management challenges as support for the implementation of new work practices, employee commitment, motivation and maintaining wellbeing at work. The purpose of this paper, as part of investigating some of these human resource challenges, is to investigate the occurrence of shared leadership among middle‐level managers in social service and health care, based on self‐evaluations of the managers' own leadership.
Questionnaires were sent to 703 middle‐level managers (managers above first‐line management level) in social service and health care in municipalities and municipal federations within the area of responsibility of a university hospital. There were 433 responses indicating a response rate of 62 per cent. The data from the questionnaires were assessed using quantitative methods in the form of distributions, cross‐tabulations and regression analysis.
Shared leadership was mainly practised by those female managers without a medical doctor's professional background in large organizations of primary health care and social service administration. There was no connection between a manager's age and work experience and the occurrence of shared leadership practices.
As evaluated by middle‐level managers, the social service and health care organizations under survey contained the seeds of change, ranging from individual leadership to shared leadership. Such change may promote innovation, work motivation and the readiness for development among employees.
This study explored the little researched phenomenon of shared leadership and its occurrence among middle‐level managers in Finnish social and health care.
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