Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 116, Issue 3, pp 655–666 | Cite as

Work Values Ethic, GNP Per Capita and Country of Birth Relationships

  • Adela McMurrayEmail author
  • Don Scott


Workplaces around the world have experienced extraordinary changes to the composition of their workforces and the nature of work. Few studies have explored workers from multiple countries of birth, with multiple religious orientations, working together within a single country of residence. Building on and extending the Work Values Ethic (WVE) literature, we examine 1,382 responses from employees working in three manufacturing companies. Differences were found in the mean WVE scores of groups of respondents from 42 countries of birth. Their WVE scores were strongly associated with their birth countries’ per capita Gross National Product (GNP), and the means of these scores did not change with variations in the respondents’ length of residence in a different country. These results have implications for developing cross-cultural management practices and for improving relationships with employees, with opportunities for increased commitment and, potentially, productivity.


Work values ethic Country of birth GNP per capita Immigrants 


  1. Abele, S. (2008). Organization science; reports from Miami University. In Ecology, Environment and Conservation Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, April 21 (pp. 568–588).Google Scholar
  2. ABS. (2006). Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of population and housing. Accessed on April 9, 2012.
  3. ABS. (2011). Australian Bureau of Statistics. Accessed on 9 April, 2012.
  4. Ahlstrom, D., Chen, S., & Yeh, K. S. (2010). Managing in ethnic Chinese communities: Culture, institutions and context. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 27(3), 341–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al Ariss, A., & Syed, J. (2011). ‘Capital mobilization of skilled migrants: A relational perspective. British Journal of Management, 22, 286–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Albee, G. (1977). The protestant ethic, sex, and psychopathology. American Psychologist, 32, 150–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Amason, P., Allen, M. W., & Holmes, S. A. (1999). Social support and acculturative stress in the multicultural workplace. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 27(4), 310–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Arruñada, B. (2010). Protestants and Catholics: Similar work ethic, different social ethic. The Economic Journal, 120, 890–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Aspin, L. J. (1984). The family: An Australian focus. Melbourne, VIC: Longman Cheshire.Google Scholar
  10. Aygün, Z. K., Arslan, M., & Güney, S. (2008). Work values of Turkish and American university students. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(2), 205–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Baruch, Y., & Holtom, B. (2008). Survey response rate levels and trends in organisational research. Human Relations, 61(8), 1139–1160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beit-Hallahmi, B. (1979). Personal and social components of the protestant ethic. Journal of Social Psychology, 109, 263–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bellah, R. (1963). Reflection on the protestant ethic analogy in Asia. Journal of Social Issues, 19, 52–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Blood, M. R. (1969). Work values and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 53, 456–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Branchevska, R. (1974). The immigrant family. In J. Krupinski & A. Stoller (Eds.), The family in Australia. Sydney, NSW: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  16. Brimelow, P. (2007). American success story: Hispanics and free education. Washington Times political book review.
  17. Buchholz, R. A. (1978). An empirical study of contemporary beliefs about work in American society. Journal of Applied Research, 63, 219–227.Google Scholar
  18. Chismir, L. H., & Koberg, C. S. (1988). Religion and attitudes toward work: A new look at an old question. Journal of Organisational Behavior, 9, 251–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cokley, K., Komarraju, M., Pickett. R., Shen, F., Patel, N., Belur, V., & Rosales, R. (2007). Ethnic differences in endorsement of the Protestant work ethic: The role of ethnic identity and perceptions of social class. Journal of Social Psychology.
  20. Cope, W., Pauwels, A., Slade, D., Brosnan, D., & Allantois, M. (1994). Local diversity, global connections, core principles for effective cross-cultural training—a training manual. Canberra, ACT: AGPS.Google Scholar
  21. Cornelissen, J. P., Haslam, S. A., & Balmer, J. M. T. (2007). Social identity, organisational identity and corporate identity: Towards an integrated understanding of processes, patternings and products. British Journal of Management, 18, S1–S16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dahler-Larsen, P. (1997). Organisational identity as a “crowded category”. In S. A. Sackmann (Ed.), Cultural complexity in organisations (pp. 367–389). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Dunn, A. (2010). The “dole or drudgery” dilemma: Education, the work ethic and unemployment. Social Policy & Administration, 44(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Elenkov, D. (1998). Can American management concepts work in Russia? A cross-cultural comparative study. California Management Review, 40(4), 133–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Everett, J. E., Stening, B. W., & Longton, P. A. (1982). Some evidence for an international managerial culture. Journal of Management Studies, 19, 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fung, R. J. (1995). Organisational strategies for cross-cultural cooperation. Delft: Eburon.Google Scholar
  27. Furnham, A. (1982). The Protestant Work Ethic and attitudes towards unemployment. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 55, 277–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Furnham, A. (1984). Work values and beliefs in Britain. Journal of Occupational Behaviour, 5, 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Furnham, A. (1987). Predicting Protestant Work Ethics beliefs. European Journal of Personality, 1, 93–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Furnham, A., Bond, M., Heaven, P., Hilton, D., Lobel, T., Masters, J., et al. (1993). A comparison of protestant work ethic beliefs in thirteen nations. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133(2), 185–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Georgellis, Y. & Lange, T. (2011). Traditional versus secular values and the job-life satisfaction relationship across Europe. British Management Journal. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8551.2011.00753.x.
  32. Ghosh, C. A. (2008). The politics of the American dream: Locke and Puritan thought revisited in an era of open immigration and identity politics. Dissertation, Syracuse University.
  33. GNP. (2005). Gross National Product (GNP) per capita. Sighted October 4, 2011.
  34. Goitein, B., & Rotenberg, M. (1977). Protestantism and retrospective labeling: A cross-cultural study in person perception. Human Relations, 30, 487–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gomberg-Muñoz, R. (2010). Willing to work: Agency and vulnerability in an undocumented immigrant network. American Anthropologist, 112(2), 295–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Greenberg, J. (1977). The Protestant work ethic and reactions to negative performance evaluations on a laboratory task. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 682–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Greenberg, J. (1978). Equity, equality and the Protestant ethic: Allocating rewards following fair and unfair competition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 14, 217–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Greenberg, J. (1979). Protestant ethic endorsement and the fairness of equity inputs. Journal of Research in Personality, 13, 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Grosse, C. U. (2010). ‘Global managers’ perceptions of cultural competence. Global Business Languages, 6, Article 3.
  40. Hammond, P., & Williams, K. (1976). Protestant ethic thesis: Social psychological assessment. Social Forces, 54, 579–589.Google Scholar
  41. Hardy, D. M. (2006). An examination of the inhabitants of Southern New England and their relationship to the land: A historical analysis 1500–2006. Dissertation, Southern Connecticut State University.
  42. Harrison, L., & Huntington, S. (2000). Culture matters: How values shape human progress. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  43. Henisz, W. J., & Delios, A. (2002). Learning about the institutional environment. In P. Ingram & B. S. Silverman (Eds.), The new institutionalism in strategic management advances in strategic management (Vol. 19, pp. 339–372). Howard House: Emerald.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ho, R., & Lloyd, J. I. (1984). Development of an Australian work ethic scale. Australian Psychologist, 19, 321–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hodgkinson, G. P., & Starkey, K. (2011). Not simply returning to the same answer over and over again: reframing relevance. British Journal of Management, 22, 355–369.Google Scholar
  46. Hofstede, G. (1980a). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Hofstede, G. (1980b). Motivation, leadership, and organisation: Do American theories apply abroad? Organisational Dynamics (Summer), 42–63.Google Scholar
  48. Hofstede, G. (1985). The interaction between national and organisational value systems. Journal of Management Studies, 22(4), 347–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hofstede, G. (1997). Cultures and organisations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  50. Hutzschenreuter, T., Voll, J. C., & Verbeke, A. (2011). The impact of added cultural distance and cultural diversity on international expansion patterns: A Penrosean perspective. Journal of Management Studies, 48(2), 305–329.Google Scholar
  51. Isenhour, L. (2006). The relations among cultural values, ethnicity, and job choice trade-off preferences. Unpublished Dissertation, University of Central Florida.Google Scholar
  52. Jensen, P. D. O., & Pederson, T. (2011). The economic geography of offshoring: The fit between activities and local context. Journal of Management Studies, 48(2), 352–372.Google Scholar
  53. Jones, H., Furnham, A., & Deile, A. (2010). Religious orientation and the protestant work ethic. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 13(7–8), 697–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Juffer, J. (2008). Hybrid faiths: Latino Protestants find a home among the Dutch reformed in Iowa. Latino Studies.
  55. Kelvin, P., & Jarrett, J. (1984). The social psychological effects of unemployment. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  56. Koot, W. C. J. (1997). Strategic utilization of ethnicity in contemporary organizations. In S. A. Sackmann (Ed.), Cultural complexity in organizations (pp. 315–342). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  57. Krupinski, J., & Stoller, A. (Eds.). (1974). The family in Australia. Sydney, NSW: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  58. Kumar, N., & Rose, R. C. (2010). Examining the link between Islamic work ethic and innovation capability. Journal of Management Development, 29(1), 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lai, J. Y. M., Lam, L., & Liu, Y. (2010). Do you really need help? A study of employee supplication and job performance in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 2(3), 541–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Levy, S. R., West, T. L., Ramirez, L., & Karafantis, D. M. (2006). The Protestant work ethic: A lay theory with dual intergroup implications. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
  61. Little, T. D. (1997). Mean and covariance structures (MACS) analysis of cross-cultural data: Practical and theoretical issues. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 32(1), 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature of consequences of job satisfaction. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organisational psychology (pp. 1297–1349). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  63. Ma, L.-C. (1986). The Protestant ethic among Taiwanese college students. The Journal of Psychology, 120(3), 219–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Macdonald, A. (1972). More on the Protestant ethic. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 39, 116–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McMurray, A. J., & Scott, D. (2003). Work values ethic: A new construct for measuring work commitment. Journal of American Academy of Business, 2(2), 505–509.Google Scholar
  66. Meriac, J. P., Woehr, D. J., & Banister, C. (2010). Generational differences in work ethic: An examination of measurement equivalence across three cohorts. Journal of Business Psychology, 25, 315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Meyer, K. E., Mudambi, R., & Narula, R. (2011). Multinational enterprises and local contexts: The opportunities and challenges of multiple embeddedness. Journal of Management Studies, 48(2), 235–252.Google Scholar
  68. Miller, M. J., Woehr, D & Hudspeth, N. (2002). The meaning and measurement of work ethic: Construction and initial validation of a multidimensional inventory. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60, 451–489.Google Scholar
  69. Mills, A. (2009). Nkrumah, Kente, and African Philosophy: Socio-political Thought and Development in Ghana. Unpublished dissertation, Howard University.
  70. Mirels, H. L., & Garrett, J. B. (1971). The Protestant ethic as a personality variable. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36(1), 40–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Morrow, P. C. (1993). The theory and measurement of work commitment. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  72. Morton, C. (1994). Becoming world class. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  73. Niles, F. S. (1994). The work ethic in Australia and Sri Lanka. The Journal of Social Psychology, 134, 55–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Nishii, L. H., & Özbilgin, M. F. (2007). Global diversity management: Towards a conceptual framework. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(11), 1883–1894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Nord, W. R., Brief, A. P., Atieh, J. M., & Doherty, E. M. (1988). Work values and the conduct of organisational behaviour. In B. Shaw & L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organisational behavior (Vol. 9, pp. 1–42). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  76. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  77. Özbilgin, M. F. (2011). Continuity and change: Improving our service to the BJM community and moving towards contextual studies of management. British Journal of Management, 22, 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Polonsky, M. J., Scott, D. R., & Suchard, H. T. (1988). Motivations of South African emigrants. Applied Economics, 20, 1293–1315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Porter, G. (2011). Work ethic and ethical work: Distortions in the American dream. Journal of Business Ethics, 96(4), 535–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Ravasi, D., & van Rekom, J. (2003). Key issues in organisational identity and identification theory. Corporate Reputation Review, 6(2), 118–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Ray, J. J. (1982). The Protestant work ethic in Australia. The Journal of Social Psychology, 116, 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Rindova, V., Dalpiaz, E., & Ravasi, D. (2010). A cultural quest: A study of organisational use of new cultural resources in strategy formulation. Organisational Science (Articles in Advance), pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  83. Robertson, J. (1985). Future work: Jobs, self employment and leisure after the industrial age. Aldershot: Gower.Google Scholar
  84. Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  85. Ryman, J. A., & Turner, C. A. (2007). The modern Weberian thesis: A short review of the literature. Journal of Enterprising Communities.
  86. Sackmann, S. A. (Ed.). (1997). Cultural complexity in organisations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  87. Scarborough, J. (1998). The origins of cultural differences and their impact on management. London: Quorum.Google Scholar
  88. Schein, E. H. (1985). Organisational culture and leadership: A dynamic view. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  89. Sekaran, U. (1992). Research methods for business: A skill building approach (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  90. Sidani, Y. M., & Thornberry, J. (2009). The current Arab work ethic: Antecedents, implications and potential remedies. Journal of Business Ethics, 91, 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Stavrou, E., & Kilaniotis, C. (2010). Flexible work and turnover: An empirical investigation across cultures. British Journal of Management, 21(2), 541–554. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8551.2009.00659.x.Google Scholar
  92. Stephens, J., & Bertone, S. (1995). Manufacturing uncertainty: Non-English-speaking-background women and training. Canberra, ACT: AGPS.Google Scholar
  93. Stone, E. (1975). Job scope, job satisfaction, and the Protestant ethic: A study of enlisted men in the US Navy. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 7, 215–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Storer, D. (1980). Migrants and unemployment. In E. Wheelwright (Ed.), Australian and World Capitalism (pp. 46–52). Ringwood, VIC: Penguin.Google Scholar
  95. Storer, D. (1981). Migrant families in Australia. Working Paper 3. Melbourne, VIC: Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  96. Storr, V. H. (2006). Weber’s spirit of capitalism and the Bahamas’ Junkanoo ethic. Review of Austrian Economics.
  97. Suter, K. (2007). Puerto Rico: Beyond “West Side Story”. Contemporary Review.
  98. Swingewood, A. (1984). A short history of sociological thought. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  99. Tang, T. L.-P. (1992). A factor analytic study of the protestant work ethic. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133(1), 109–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Tranfield, D., & Starkey, K. (1998). The nature, social organisation and promotion of management research: Towards policy. British Journal of Management, 9, 341–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Uygur, S. (2009). The Islamic work ethic and the emergence of Turkish SME owner-managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(1), 211–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. van Rekom, J., Corley, K., & Ravasi, D. (2008). Guest editorial: extending and advancing theories of organisational identity. Corporate Reputation Review, 11(3), 183–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Walker, R., & Howard, M. (2000). The making of the welfare class. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  104. Weber, M. (1905). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. New York: Scribners.Google Scholar
  105. Willis, E. M. (2008). The invention of purgatory: Contributions to abstract time in capitalism. Journal of Sociology, 44(3), 249–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Woehr, D. J., Arciniega, L. M., & Lim, D. H. (2007). Examining work ethic across populations: a comparison of the multidimensional work ethic profile across three diverse cultures. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 67(1), 154–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Womak, J. P., Jones, D. T., & Roos, D. (1990). The machine that changed the world. New York: Rawson Associates.Google Scholar
  108. Zulfikar, Y. F. (2012). Do Muslims believe more in Protestant work ethic than Christians? Comparison of people with different religious background living in the US. Journal of Business Ethics, 105(4), 489–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Commerce and ManagementSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

Personalised recommendations