Background: Nurses' job satisfaction is an important issue because of its impact on the quality of the nursing job. Therefore, it receives a lot of attention in the international nursing literature but insight into the sources of nurses' job satisfaction is yet insufficient, in particular for sources related to organizational structure. Objectives: We contribute by investigating the relationship between the organizational structure variables, formalization, centralization and specialization, and nurses' job satisfaction. This allows us to learn whether structural changes can help to improve satisfaction, and therefore nurses' work quality. Design: Data were collected by questionnaires in a random sample of 764 non-managing nurses in three Belgian general care hospitals. We measured satisfaction by Stamps and Piedmont's work satisfaction index. Structure was also measured by an existing scale. Results: The results support the negative effect of centralization and the clearly positive effects of specialization and formalization on nurses' job satisfaction. These effects differ according to the different dimensions of satisfaction. Furthermore, pay is the most important dimension of nurses job satisfaction but the dimension least influenced by organizational structure. Conclusions: The importance of the dimension pay in nurses' job satisfaction, which is not a function of organizational structure, is limiting hospitals in improving nurses' job satisfaction. However, organizational structure is related to the other dimensions of satisfaction. Especially, the fact that specialization and formalization are, contrary to our hypotheses, only positively related to satisfaction is important from a practice perspective and for further research. Furthermore, our data indicates that there is a need to refine one of the dimensions of Stamps and Piedmont index. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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