Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick Jenlink

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrea Bostrom


This historical analysis sought to determine the types of power utilized by Florence Nightingale while providing leadership to major reforms and how these power acts were implemented- The scope of the study was her productive post- Crimean years from 1856 through 1872. Events which were examined included the reform of the health of the British Army including the Royal Commission, the establishment of modem, secular nursing education and the establishment of public health standards in India during British colonization.

The power acts were examined relative to the constituents of power defined by Dahl (1957). The source of power contained subsets termed bases of power by French and Raven (1959) which were also examined relative to the power acts.

The findings of this study indicate that Florence Nightingale primarily employed, expert power to implement change. Her expertise grew from her Crimean experience which impressed her with the need for hygienic reform, better medical education and purveyance systems and for organized nursing education. This culminated in the established of public health standards in India.

Coercion was also utilized. This came in the form of multiple threats of resignation and complaints about individual behavior to people in power.

Authority was more limited than influence as she tended to create change indirectly. This was partially the result o f cultural expectations and the role of women in the nineteenth century.

This study has implications relative to leadership. Leadership encompasses a particular type of power relationship. Leadership, which draws on an understanding of power utilization, may promote transformational leadership.

Study implications for nursing include that, while Nightingale demonstrated power utilization, she was not able to empower other nurses. This continues to have a lasting impact on nursing's development.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access