Date of Conferral







Linda K. Matheson


The concept of positive deviance (PD) has not been studied in the context of nursing. Grounded in narrative inquiry and combined with vocabularies of motive and symbolic interactionism, the purpose of this study was to explore whether PD behaviors existed in nursing, and if so, to develop an operational definition of PD for nursing. The research question addressed what PD behaviors, if any, were present in nurses’ workplace stories. Using posted flyers, eight participants either self-selected or were selected by snowball method to participate. Interviews were conducted in locations decided on by each participant. Interview data were obtained, transcribed, then categorized into the following behaviors: ability to flex with adversity (resilience), accountability for self and others, authenticity, autonomy, clarifying information in a professional way, connectedness, courage, intentional, interdependence, moral empowerment, not driven by a level of authority, political astuteness, responsibility, self-empowerment, speaking up even when it is uncomfortable, strong relationships, vision, and vulnerability. The findings from this study could impact positive social change in the following ways: (a) Nursing has its own definition to use: An intentional and moral behavior that departs or differs from the established norm, containing elements of innovation, creativity, adaptability, moral empowerment, self-empowerment, responsibility, or a combination of these attributes including a level of risk; (b) At the individual level, a way to define and back nurses’ actions in a safe way or be used as a professional nurse expectation; and (c) At the organizational level, the identified PD behaviors and definition can be an expectation for employees of how to express themselves in a professional, honest, and direct manner.

Available for download on Thursday, November 05, 2020