Original Research

Investigating the relationship between work values and work ethics: A South African perspective

Petronella Jonck, Freda van der Walt, Nthombi Sobayeni
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 15 | a780 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.780 | © 2017 Petronella Jonck, Freda van der Walt, Nthombi Sobayeni | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 December 2015 | Published: 28 February 2017

About the author(s)

Petronella Jonck, Research and Innovation Unit, National School of Government, South Africa
Freda van der Walt, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, South Africa
Nthombi Sobayeni, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: As a result of the proliferation of unethical behaviour in the workplace, the study of work ethics has received new impetus.

Research purpose: The research study sought to determine the relationship between work ethics and work values, with the objective of determining whether work ethics statistically significantly predict work values.

Motivation for the study: As work ethics (i.e. behavioural intent) are a determinant of work values (i.e. overt behaviour), researchers are investigating their potential in preventing unethical behaviour.

Research design, approach and method: A descriptive quantitative research design was employed in the study. A survey was conducted using the Multidimensional Work Ethic Profile and the Values Scale, which in previous studies have produced acceptable Cronbach’s alpha coefficients. Data were collected from 301 respondents in one geographical area in South Africa.

Main findings: Work values did not appear to be highly esteemed by respondents, as only 6 of the 22 dimensions had a positive score. However, all seven dimensions of work ethics had positive scores. A negative correlation was found between work ethics and work values. In addition, work ethics predicted 9% of the variance in work values, providing sufficient evidence to accept the postulated research hypothesis.

Practical implications: The findings of the study could be used by human resource managers to promote ethical behaviour, by focusing not only on work ethics but also on the relationship between work ethics and work values.

Contribution: The study provides evidence of a relationship between work ethics and work behaviours, such as work values, within the South African context, and it thus addresses a research gap in this area.


Keywords

work values; work ethics; ethical behaviour; South Africa; ethical behavioural intent

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