University of Oulu

Malila, N., Lunkka, N. and Suhonen, M. (2018), "Authentic leadership in healthcare: a scoping review", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 129-146.

Authentic leadership in healthcare : a scoping review

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Author: Malila, Niina1; Lunkka, Nina1,2; Suhonen, Marjo1,2
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu (MRC Oulu), Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-10-02


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review peer-reviewed original research articles on authentic leadership (AL) in health care to identify potential research gaps and present recommendations for future research. The objectives are to examine and map evidence of the main characteristics, research themes and methodologies in the studies. AL is a leader’s non-authoritarian, ethical and transparent behaviour pattern.

Design/methodology/approach: A scoping review with thematic analysis was conducted. A three-step search strategy was used with database and manual searches. The included studies were composed of English language peer-reviewed original research articles referring to both AL and health care.

Findings: In total, 29 studies were included. The studies favoured Canadian nurses in acute care hospitals. AL was understood as its original definition. The review identified four research themes: well-being at work, patient care quality, work environment and AL promotion. Quantitative research methodology with the authentic leadership questionnaire and cross-sectional design were prevalent.

Research limitations/implications: Future research needs more variation in research themes, study populations, settings, organisations, work sectors, geographical origins and theory perspectives. Different research methodologies, such as qualitative and mixed methods research and longitudinal designs, should be used more.

Originality/value: This is presumably the first literature review to map the research on AL in health care.

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Series: Leadership in health services
ISSN: 1751-1879
ISSN-E: 1751-1887
ISSN-L: 1751-1879
Volume: 31
Issue: 1
Pages: 129 - 146
DOI: 10.1108/LHS-02-2017-0007
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 517 Political science
3141 Health care science
Copyright information: © Emerald Publishing Limited. The definitive Version of Record can be found online at: