Workplace social capital in nursing: an evolutionary concept analysis

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Aim: To report an analysis of the concept of nurses’ workplace social capital. Background: Workplace social capital is an emerging concept in nursing with potential to illuminate the value of social relationships at work. A common definition is needed. Design: Concept analysis Data sources: The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PubMed, PsychINFO, and ProQuest Nursing. Review methods: Databases were systematically searched using the keywords: workplace social capital, employee social capital, work environment, social capital, and nursing published between January 1937 and November 2012 in English that described or studied social capital of nurses at work were included. A total of 668 resources were found. After removing 241 duplicates, literature was screened in two phases: 1) titles and abstracts were reviewed (n = 427), and 2) remaining data sources were retrieved and read (n = 70). Eight sources were included in the final analysis. Results: Attributes of nurses’ workplace social capital included networks of social relationships at work, shared assets, and shared ways of knowing and being. Antecedents were communication, trust, and positive leadership practices. Nurses’ workplace social capital was associated with positive consequences for nurses, their patients, and healthcare organizations. Conclusion: Nurses’ workplace social capital is defined as nurses’ shared assets and ways of being and knowing that are evident in and available through nurses’ networks of social relationships at work. Future studies should examine and test relationships between antecedents and consequences of nurses’ workplace social capital in order to better understand this important aspect of healthy professional practice environments.