Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Heather K. Spence Laschinger


Background: Social capital refers to resources created by and embedded in social relationships and has been identified as an important aspect of nurses’ work life. There is limited empirical evidence regarding its role and currently no valid and reliable self-report instruments to measure workplace social capital comprehensively.

Purpose: This study aimed to develop and test a self-report questionnaire to measure nurses’ workplace social capital and examine the nomologicial network of the concept including authentic leadership and structural empowerment as precursors of social capital and team effectiveness and patient care quality as outcomes.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 1,000 Registered Nurses from Ontario was conducted. Eligible participants were mailed a letter of information, study questionnaire, and a return envelope, and a link to an online survey option. Non-responders received a reminder letter four weeks later and a second survey eight weeks later. Descriptive statistics were conducted using SPSS. Structural equation modeling in Mplus was used to test the new measure and the hypothesized model.

Results: The final measurement model for the questionnaire had an adequate fit: χ²(544) = 1043.237, p = .000; TLI = .871; RMSEA = .063; SRMR = .066. Item factor loadings were generally high (>.70) but ranged from .36 to .94. Reliability estimates were high overall. The hypothesized model had an acceptable fit: χ²(219) = 420.617, p = .000; CFI = .923; TLI = .911; RMSEA = .066 (.056-.075); SRMR = .072. Adding a direct path between social capital and quality of care improved the model fit: χ²(218) = 405.884, p = .000; CFI = .928; TLI = .916; RMSEA = .063 (.054-.073) ; SRMR = .067. All hypothesized relationships were significant except for the direct path between authentic leadership and social capital.

Conclusions: Findings provide initial support for the new measure of nurses’ workplace social capital. Authentic leaders play an integral role in cultivating nurses’ workplace social capital by establishing empowering working conditions that promote positive relationships and cooperation, creating value for nurses, patients, and organizations.