Economic theory is used to describe and explain decision making in the context of scarce resources. This paper presents two applications of economic theory to the delivery of nursing services in acute care hospitals and evaluates its usefulness in guiding nursing administration research. The description of economic theory and the proposed applications for nursing are based on current nursing, healthcare, and economic literature. Evaluation of the potential usefulness of economic theory in guiding nursing administration research is based on the criteria of significance and testability as described by Fawcett and Downs. While economic theory can be very useful in explaining how decisions about nursing time allocation and nursing care production are made, it will not address the issue of how they should be made. Normative theories and ethical frameworks also must be incorporated in the decision-making process around these issues. Economic theory and nursing administration are a good fit when balanced with the values and goals of nursing.