Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore managers' boundary setting in order to better understand their handling of time commitment to work activities, stress, and recovery during everyday work and at home. Design/methodology/approach – The paper has qualitatively‐driven, mixed method design including observational data, individual interviews, and focus group discussions. Data were analyzed according to Charmaz' view on constructivist grounded theory. Findings – A first step in boundary setting was to recognize areas with conflicting expectations and inexhaustible needs. Second, strategies were formed through negotiating the handling of managerial time commitment, resulting in boundary‐setting, but also boundary‐dissolving, approaches. The continuous process of individual recognition and negotiation could work as a form of proactive coping, provided that it was acknowledged and questioned. Research limitations/implications – These findings suggest that recognition of perceived boundary challenges can affect stress and coping. It would therefore be interesting to more accurately assess stress, coping, and health status among managers by means of other methodologies (e.g. physiological assessments). Practical implications – In regulating managers' work assignments, work‐related stress and recovery, it seems important to: acknowledge boundary work as an ever‐present dilemma requiring continuous negotiation; and encourage individuals and organizations to recognize conflicting perspectives inherent in the leadership assignment, in order to decrease harmful negotiations between them. Such awareness would benefit more sustainable management of healthcare practice. Originality/value – This paper highlights how managers can handle ever‐present boundary dilemmas in the healthcare sector by regulating their time commitments in various ways.
Journal of Health Organisation and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 2011
Keywords: Managers; Boundary setting; Stress; Coping; Mixed method; Health care
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