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Managing care errors in the wards: The contribution of authentic leadership and error management culture

Maria Luisa Farnese (Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy)
Francesco Zaghini (Policlinico Universitario Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)
Rosario Caruso (IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Milan, Italy)
Roberta Fida (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Manuel Romagnoli (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV), Rome, Italy)
Alessandro Sili (Policlinico Universitario Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 2 November 2018

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019




The importance of an error management culture (EMC) that integrates error prevention with error management after errors occur has been highlighted in the existing literature. However, few empirical studies currently support the relationship between EMC and errors, while the factors that affect EMC remain underexplored. Drawing on the conceptualisation of organisational cultures, the purpose of this paper is to verify the contribution of authentic leadership in steering EMC, thereby leading to reduced errors.


The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey study. The sample included 280 nurses.


Results of a full structural equation model supported the hypothesised model, showing that authentic leadership is positively associated with EMC, which in turn is negatively associated with the frequency of errors.

Practical implications

These results provide initial evidence for the role of authentic leadership in enhancing EMC and consequently, fostering error reduction in the workplace. The tested model suggests that the adoption of an authentic style can promote policies and practices to proactively manage errors, paving the way to error reduction in the workplace.


This study was one of the first to investigate the relationship between authentic leadership, error culture and errors. Further, it contributes to the existing literature by demonstrating both the importance of cultural orientation in protecting the organisation from error occurrence and the key role of authentic leaders in creating an environment for EMC development, thus permitting the organisation to learn from errors and reduce their negative consequences.



The authors would like to thank the Collegio IPASVI (Center of excellence for culture and nursing research, Italy) for having financially supported this study. The authors would also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and extremely helpful guidance.


Farnese, M.L., Zaghini, F., Caruso, R., Fida, R., Romagnoli, M. and Sili, A. (2019), "Managing care errors in the wards: The contribution of authentic leadership and error management culture", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 17-30.



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