Date of Conferral







Janice Long


Stress can be heightened during a merger; understanding how acute care nurses who work in a hospital undergoing a merger, experience senior leaders’ use of symbolism may help to promote hospital and leader sustainability. Executive symbolism unfolds into aesthetic experience, normally considered a response to art, with few studies of its existence and benefit to organizational life. The purpose of this phenomenological-hermeneutic study guided by Parker’s aesthetic theory was to examine acute care nurses’ emotional responses and experiences with senior leaders’ use of executive symbolism in the midst of the organizational change. Interviews with 11 acute care registered nurses were recorded and transcribed then used with field notes to begin Ricoeur’s 3-phase manual qualitative analysis process. Finally NVivo was used to organize the themes identified, and aesthetic theory used to guide interpretation of the results. Results revealed 4 themes indicating that nurses experienced senior leader symbolism aesthetically: (a) branding, (b) allocation of resources, (c) restructuring maneuvers, and (d) leader connection. Findings suggest that aesthetic experiences and emotional judgements of acute care nurses are heavily influenced by the symbolism communicated by senior leaders during the chaotic time of a merger. Thus, hospital sustainability and nurses positive emotional experiences may result when senior leaders creatively and intentionally communicate positive aesthetic symbols, thereby promoting positive social change for the nurses, the organization, and the patients served.