A Cross-cultural Study of Work Ethic and its Relationship with Locus of Control among the Iranian and Italian Employees
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Abstract:
Introduction

Work ethic is a fundamentally set of values based on moral virtues of hard work and diligence. Work ethic generally is associated with attendance and punctuality, character (honesty, reliability, self-discipline, self-responsibility), teamwork (respecting the rights of others, being a team worker, being cooperative, being assertive), good appearance, positive attitude and self-confidence, productivity, organizational skills, clear verbal and nonverbal communication, cooperation and good relationships, and respect for oneself and for other people. Work ethic is considered as an important need for every country because human labor with a strong work ethic can play a key role in realizing the national goals. But, many managers and employers believe that it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire workers who have a strong work ethic. Therefore, work ethic and the strategies to improve it have been highly considered. Regarding the cross-cultural studies, Muslim, developing and collectivistic societies have a stronger work ethic than Protestant or Catholic, developed and individualistic cultures. Work ethic obviously influences different aspects of human life, and it is, in turn, affected by micro, meso, and macro factors. While macro level puts emphasis on some wide-ranging causes like economic conditions, cultural values, and religion, meso levels refer to some organizational attributes. And micro levels put more value on individuals and personal attributes like locus of control. There are two indicators to assess work ethic; working hours per week, and national productivity of labor force. Although human labor in Iran with working 44 hours per week is considered as an appropriate work ethic, labor national productivity as another indicator of work ethic is not desirable in this country. The cross-cultural study of work ethic has not received any attention in Iran, and there is no research comparing work ethic between Muslim and Catholics. This research has tried to compare Iran as a Muslim, developing, and collectivistic culture with Italy as a Catholic, developed, and individualistic one. Thus, this research is trying to respond the following questions; 1) is there any significant difference between Iranian and Italian employees in work ethic? 2) Is there any significant relationship between locus of control and work ethic among the Iranian and Italian employees?

 Material & Methods

This cross-cultural survey was conducted on 306 administrative employees working at two state universities in Iran and Italy. They were chosen by using the systematic sampling method. For assessing work ethic, the short form of Multidimensional Work Ethic Profile (MWEP) developed by Meriac et al. (2013) was used. The MWEP consists of 28 items measuring seven dimensions; (1) centrality of work, a belief that work is important in its own rights, (2) self-reliance, representing a drive toward independence in task accomplishment, (3) hard work, the belief that an increased level of effort is the key to effective task accomplishment, (4) leisure, a value on downtime/non-work activities, (5) morality/ethics, a proclivity to engage in just/moral behavior, (6) delay of gratification, the capacity to postpone rewards until a later date, and (7) wasted time, a value regarding the productive use of time. The MWEP is rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale and the range is between 28 and 140. On the other hand, for estimation of locus of control, the Rotter’s (1966) internal external scale was applied. This scale comprises a single bipolar dimension or continuum; high internals are located at one end, and high externals are located at the other. The scale consists of 29 forced-choice items; six of them are filler items and 23 are scoring items. Each item is made up of a pair of statements, one for the internal locus of control dimension, the other for the external locus of control one. The respondents were asked to choose one statement (a) or (b) from each sentence. Every item is interchangeably scored zero or one and generally, the scale score ranged from zero to 23. The higher scores were indicative of an external locus of control, and lower scores were representative of an internal locus of control.

 Discussion of Results & Conclusion

Research findings clearly showed that while the Iranian employees put more value on hard work and leisure, the Italian employees placed more value on self-reliance, morality/ethics, and wasted time. Moreover, the two groups were the same in terms of the delay of gratification, and centrality of work. However, the Italian employees achieved higher scores in MWEP. Based on the research findings, there was a statistically significant difference between the Iranian and Italian employees in terms of work ethic so that the mean work ethic of the Italian staffs was higher than the Iranian counterparts. On the other hand, there was a positive significant relationship between locus of control and work ethic in the both groups (Iranian and Italian employees). It indicated that, the participants with high internal locus of control get more score in work ethic. This research finding was empirically well-matched with the results of Furnham (1987) demonstrating people with high internal locus of control were more likely to endorse the Protestant work ethic. Theoretically, this research result was logical because people who believed the world is ordered based on the personal effort and ability (internal LOC), were more likely motivated to do their job ethically compared to people who believed the world is unordered based on fate and chance (external LOC). In other words, a person with an external locus of control was less likely to take responsibility for the consequences of ethical/unethical behavior and was more likely to rely on external forces. But, a person with an internal locus of control was more likely to take responsibility for consequences and rely on his/her internal determination of right and wrong to guide his/her behavior.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Language:
Persian
Published:
Journal of Applied Sociology the University of Isfahan, Volume:31 Issue: 2, 2020
Pages:
41 - 54
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