Original Research

Work ethics climate in relation to nurses’ commitment in a South African hospital

Mahlamakiti D. Kau, Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Tebogo K. Molotsi
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 22 | a2239 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v22i0.2239 | © 2024 Mahlamakiti D. Kau, Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Tebogo K. Molotsi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 January 2023 | Published: 18 January 2024

About the author(s)

Mahlamakiti D. Kau, Department of Business Management, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Jeremy Mitonga-Monga, Department of Industrial and People Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa
Tebogo K. Molotsi, Department of Human Resource Management, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Commitment, well-being and employer loyalty affect nurse retention. Literature shows that nurses are leaving the workforce at an alarming rate and that various factors are causing them to leave their employers.

Research purpose: The main aim of this study was to investigate the influence of the ethical work climate in the organisation on nurses’ commitment.

Motivation for the study: The health sector is essential in promoting mental, physical and emotional health but faces a shortage of skilled workers. The work ethics climate (WEC) can play a crucial role in retaining skills.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative research approach was adopted in a non-probability convenience sample of 208 permanent nurses from a South African public hospital. Participants completed self-assessments on an ethical climate questionnaire and an organisational commitment scale (OCS), and regression analysis was used to analyse the data.

Main findings: Work ethics climate correlated with nurses’ affective, continuance and normative commitment. In addition, the results indicated that WEC predicted nurses’ commitment.

Practical/managerial implications: Public hospitals in South Africa should create policies, laws and procedures that encourage ethical behaviour characterised by honesty, justice and dignity to boost nurse commitment. Thus, the South African hospital should foster an ethical workplace and implement an ethical code.

Contribution/value add: This study contributes to the theory of ethical work climate and ethical behaviour by suggesting that nurses who positively perceive policies, rules and hospitals that have clear regulations are more likely to engage.


work ethics climate; employee comitment; South Africa; public hospital; social exchange theory

JEL Codes

O15: Human Resources • Human Development • Income Distribution • Migration

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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