JVER v25n4 - Work Ethic Measurement of Vocational Students in Georgia
Work Ethic Measurement of Vocational Students in Georgia
John R. Boatwright
Valdosta State University
John R. Slate
The University of Texas at El Paso
In this study, we used a two-phase mixed methods research design in which qualitative methods were followed by a quantitative method to investigate work ethics as defined by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. Though work ethic instruments exist in the literature, none were suitable to serve as an evaluation instrument for the work ethic component of the curriculum taught in the technical institutes in the state of Georgia. Following an extensive content analysis of pertinent documents, two focus groups and a needs assessment, a Likert survey was developed and administered to 307 persons. Participants clearly recognized and supported commonly accepted work ethic values, with females reporting stronger work ethics than males. Age and maturity of respondents were related to work ethics. Implications of our findings are discussed.
A common theme arising among Business Advisory Committees of technical institutes, the business community as a whole, and technical institute administrations is that prospective employees lack a suitable work ethic (Dr. James Bridges, President of Valdosta Technical Institute, personal communication, April 26, 1996). Further, a lack of an intrinsic value set governing appropriate workplace behavior renders an applicant unemployable, even though the applicant may possess excellent ability and job skills. This incongruity between possession of adequate skill levels and appropriate work ethic values has increasingly become an area of concern for the business community and for technical institutes (personal communication, focus group, November 13, 1996).
In response to this disparity between skill levels and appropriate work ethic values, each of the 33 technical institutes in the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education has incorporated the concept of work ethic into their curriculum. The core component of work ethic values, as outlined in the department's policy, includes: (a) attendance and punctuality, (b) integrity and honesty, (c) productivity, (d) cooperativeness and teamwork, (e) responsiveness to supervision, (f) adherence to policies, (g) proper use of tools and resources, and (h) observance of safety provisions ( GDTAE Work Ethics Program, 1991 ). As an integral facet of the work ethic curriculum, students receive work ethic grades reported in the same manner as other course grades and these grades are recorded on the student's transcript. Additionally, each institute may augment these core values by expanding the value set to reflect the unique economies of their region and/or the specific focus of the institute's programs.
Not operationalized in the Work Ethics Program is a means to determine the relative value set possessed by students entering technical programs, prior to their exposure to the work ethic curriculum component. Similarly, no post-test of program graduates takes place ( GDTAE Work Ethics Program, 1991 ). Because no pre-/post-assessment of student values occurs, Georgia technical educators have been unable to measure the effectiveness of their work ethic training efforts.
Definition of Work Ethics
Formal inspection of the topic of work ethics has stemmed largely from the field of psychology. Numerous researchers such as Blood ( 1969 ), Mirels and Garrett ( 1971 ), Wollack, Goodale, Wijting, and Smith ( 1971 ), Furnham et al. ( 1993 ), and Knoop ( 1994 ) have focused on the value of work, job satisfaction, and global constructs related to work ethics. From the myriad of available research studies, a substantial number of concepts defined as work values have been identified. Such concepts include general satisfaction, job involvement, peer satisfaction, skill variety, initiating structure, higher order need strength, security, work conditions, advancement opportunities, conservatism, commitment, and recognition.
Researchers have investigated work ethic not in a comprehensive manner but rather in a piecemeal manner. That is, the different components of work ethic have been examined separately and not in an overall fashion. Thus, although each researcher has contributed to the existing body of knowledge about work ethic, the study of different work ethic components has led to disparate study results. For example, contradictory results were produced by Ganster ( 1981 ) when he attempted to replicate the work of Merrens and Garrett ( 1975 ). Merrens and Garrett ( 1975 ) found that subjects possessing a strong Protestant work ethic tended to spend more time on task and produce greater output whereas Ganster ( 1981 ) found the opposite when the tasks were changed by the researcher.
A second example is illustrated by the comparison of Buchholz's ( 1978 ) study and Gooding's ( 1972 ) study. Gooding found that workers under the age of 30 reported lower levels of job satisfaction than did workers 30 years of age and older. In addition, Buchholz found that commitment to the work ethic was strongest for subjects under the age of 30 and steadily declined as subjects moved into older age groupings.
Accordingly, work ethics, for purposes of this study, must be defined. We based our definition on the following works. Cherrington ( 1980 ) stated that in its simplest terms, work ethic referred to a positive attitude toward work. That is, persons who enjoy their work would be regarded as having a better work ethic than persons who did not enjoy their work. Hitt ( 1990 ) proposed that the principles of the work ethic were synonymous to values and explained that "any description of a person's ethics would have to revolve around his or her values" ( p. 5 ) because a person's value set is what guides his or her life.
Miller and Coady ( 1986 ) connected the benefits of work with an individual's values and principles [individual value set] and described an enabling work ethic as "an integrated and interactive system of attitudes, values, and beliefs that empowers an individual to adapt to and initiate change in order to sustain long term harmony with his or her work environment" ( p. 6 ). The practical implication of Miller and Coady's interpretation is that when individuals are faced with ethical conflicts, they must make decisions regarding potential reactions. Such decisions are normally based upon environmental choices or previous experience, but may result from the individual's understanding of appropriate ethical conduct in the workplace.
Accordingly, we defined work ethics in two ways. First, work ethics were defined by the extent to which participants responded to work ethic items in terms of their importance in the participants' views. Second, work ethics were defined by the work ethic values responded to by participants. Thus, Cherrington's ( 1980 ) positive attitudes, Hitt's ( 1990 ) work ethic values, and Miller and Coady's ( 1986 ) values and principles were incorporated into our operational definition of work ethics.
Ongoing discussions between institute officials of the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Educational System (GDTAE) and employers in the state have revealed discrepancies between the value sets possessed by program graduates and those value sets desired by business and industry. For example, program graduates seem to lack an understanding that punctuality and attendance, work productivity, and the frugal use of raw production materials impacted company profitability and in turn, their continued employment with that organization. Further discussions between technical institute personnel and business and industry personnel have focused on the basic characteristics desired by employers. Commonalities emerged through these discussions and formed the basis and definition of the GDTAE work ethic value set. These commonalities included: (a) attendance and punctuality, (b) integrity and honesty, (c) productivity, (d) cooperativeness and teamwork, (e) responsiveness to supervision, (f) adherence to policies, (g) proper use of tools and resources, and (h) observance of safety procedures. In 1991, after a one-year pilot test in 20 institutes, a program employing these eight factors as the core value set and referred to as the Work Ethics Program was formally adopted by GDTAE (personal communication, James Bridges, April 26, 1996).
A plethora of instruments are available in which the measurement of work value, job satisfaction, loyalty, self concept, organizational commitment, beliefs, work performance, attitudes, and role conflict are examined. Two commonalities have emerged from an inspection of these studies and the instruments employed by the researchers. Researchers have focused either on minute processes (e.g., within the whole of work ethics) or upon global constructs (e.g., the Protestant Work Ethic, the Catholic work ethic, or the Islamic work ethic).
Though a myriad of instruments exist by which work ethics can be assessed, no one instrument is suitable for purposes of this study. That is, the GDTAE Work Ethic Program incorporated into the technical education curricula in the state of Georgia can only be adequately evaluated by an instrument in which each work ethic component in the curricula is assessed. To design an instrument by which the components of the GDTAE Work Ethic Program could be assessed, the researcher selected four instruments employed in previous research which most closely paralleled the focus of this work..
The first of these instruments was The Survey of Work Values [SWV]. Wollack, Goodale, Wijting, and Smith ( 1971 ) developed The SWV to reflect an index of a person's general attitude toward work. Wollack et al. explained that previous research in this area had resulted in scale development focused on the measurement of work values and occupational values. Further, even though those measures had been meticulously developed, they seemed to be extremely global. The SWV differed from previous scales in that it was limited to the secularized Protestant Work Ethic and was focused toward areas of values with which the construct of the Protestant Work Ethic seemed to be closely linked. Additionally, the researchers specifically identified the concept of socially desirable responses as prone to bias and explained, "If one is concerned about the extent to which a group of individuals shares a common value pattern, then in a very real sense it is social desirability that is being measured" ( Wollack et al. 1971, p. 336 ). The implication of this discussion was that regardless of whether people's behavior was controlled by their intrinsic value set or by socially desirable behavior patterns the result was the same. That is, the individual's behavior would approximate socially desirable behavior.
The second of these instruments was The Protestant Ethic Scale developed by Milton Blood ( 1969 ). Blood attempted to measure individual differences in work values and predicted that persons ascribing to Protestant Ethic ideals would exhibit greater job satisfaction than those persons who did not ascribe to Protestant Ethic ideals. He found that agreement with the Protestant Ethic was directly correlated to job satisfaction. Similarly, agreement with non-Protestant Work Ethic items was inversely related to job satisfaction. Reliability and validity coefficients of the instrument used by Blood were not discernible from the article; however, Furnham et al. ( 1993 ) reported Spearman-Brown reliability as .70 for this instrument and noted that both concurrent and predictive validity evidence was available. Blood explained that work values preceded and influenced job satisfaction as opposed to job satisfaction, or the lack thereof, generating positive or negative work values. Practical applications of Blood's conclusion were evident when attempts were made to assimilate hard-core unemployed into the work force and to resocialize this workforce segment by instilling Protestant Ethic ideals during the 1970s. The results of these resocialization efforts were largely unsuccessful.
The third of these instruments was The Protestant Ethic Scale developed by Mirels and Garrett ( 1971 ). These researchers produced a popular measurement instrument utilized in 39 psychological studies focusing on the Protestant Work Ethic ( Furnham et al., 1993 ). The principal reason given for such wide usage was the investigation of the Protestant Work Ethic- one of the few topics that has bridged nearly all of the social sciences.
Mirels and Garrett examined the Protestant Ethic as a dispositional variable. Moreover, they sought to depict its psychological meaning in terms of occupational interests and relationships with other personality variables. The researchers' initial attempts were directed toward the development of an internally consistent measure of the endorsement of Protestant Ethic ideology. Mirels' and Garrett's instrument employed 19 questions which were scaled on a six point Likert format with no neutral position. Questions employed an easily read format centered on value items familiar to white, middle-class Americans. Furnham et al. listed reliability figures for the Mirels and Garrett instrument as follows: (a) Spearman-Brown reliability, .67, (b) Kuder-Richardson reliability, .79, (c) Cronbach's alpha, .67, and noted that concurrent and predictive validity evidence were available. The practical application of these findings was that success in such occupations could be quantified in terms of earned profits or in terms of how efficiently and how well specified duties were fulfilled. Further, no significant differences in their work ethic measurement were present between males and females.
The fourth instrument was developed by Petty ( 1991 ) who developed a concise scale employing 50 one-word descriptors relating to work ethic, value of work, and work competencies to provide a succinct, accurate measure of the vocational aspect of the work ethic. Descriptors grouped into four subscales: dependable, ambitious, considerate, and cooperative. Pilot test results generated correlation alphas ranging from .90 ( Hatcher, 1995 ) to .95 ( Hill, 1992 ) for this instrument. Subsequent research employing Petty's instrument has focused toward the identification of key themes that characterized the modern occupational or vocational work ethic. The conclusions of one research study employing this instrument were of particular relevance to this research study. The authors stated, "the elements of work ethic that are of greatest significance in the preparation of people for work are the attitudes and behaviors ascribed to work ethic rather than a sectarian belief system that inculcates these characteristics" ( Hill & Petty, 1995, p. 60 ).
- What factors and values comprise work ethic as defined by:
- Technical Institute Advisory Committee members?
- Technical institute faculty members?
- the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education?
- How do the factors and values of the three populations noted in question one interrelate?
- Is there a statistically significant difference in work ethics as a function of respondent demographic variables?
Methods and Procedures
Copies of the Work Ethic Program Manual and The Work Ethic Program pilot-test summative report were obtained from a state Technical Institute, a copy of the Work Ethic Program assessment completed in May, 1996 was obtained from a different state Technical Institute, and institute catalogs were obtained from three Technical Institutes. These documents were reviewed to determine specific work ethic value descriptors and general reference to the work ethic topic. Each work ethic value descriptor was identified by a specific descriptor term and source and recorded in a Lotus 123 electronic spreadsheet file to facilitate manipulation of the data. Five hundred sixty-nine specific descriptors were identified through this methodology ( Ryan & Bernard, 2000 ) with data sorted alphabetically, maintaining the integrity of the descriptor source.
The initial organization of the data was followed by the employment of a logical content analysis to identify value clusters. Commonalities among descriptor definitions contributed to data reduction ( Miles & Huberman, 1994 ). A series of nine subsequent data reductions allowed the value descriptors to be collapsed into the eight principal work ethic value themes identified in the GDTAE Work Ethic Program Manual.
Focus groups. A listing of Business Advisory Committee Members was obtained from a state Technical Institute. Committees were segregated into the categories of business (e.g., hotel and restaurant management) and health (e.g., nursing) programs, and into the categories of technical (e.g., computer technology) and instructional programs (e.g., early childhood care) based upon their program focus. Business and health program committees consisted of 123 members and technical and instructional program committees consisted of 121 members. Of these groups, focus group participants were randomly selected via a table of random numbers obtained from Keller and Warrick's ( 1994 ) Essentials of Business Statistics. Eight participants were determined to provide optimal group interaction based upon the research of Krueger ( 1988 ) and Morgan ( 1997 ). Assuming a 50% replacement rate, 12 participants were initially selected from each of the two advisory committee categories.
Members of each group were assigned unique consecutive numbers to facilitate selection. Selection of business and health advisory committee members was initiated through the use of the serial number F57991162F obtained from a one dollar bill. Business and health candidates 62, 45, 112, 67, 16, 73, 12, 83, 71, 9, 38, and 17 were selected for participation. A similar process was employed to select technical and instructional advisory committee members. The serial number F32767331F obtained from a one dollar bill was employed to begin selecting Technical and Instructional candidates 48, 69, 85, 63, 45, 27, 90, 10, 60, 51, 62, and 112 were selected for participation. Readers should note that although participants were selected randomly within each category, they were purposefully selected for being either in the business and health category or for being in the technical and instructional advisory committee.
Two one-hour focus groups were then scheduled. Letters of invitation, signed by the president of one of the state's Technical Institutes (i.e., the president primarily involved in the work ethic component of the GDTAE curriculum), were mailed to the 12 potential candidates in each of the two categories. Telephone calls were completed to non-respondents a week later to discern their intentions regarding participation. Two candidates from the business and health category and three candidates from the technical and instructional category participated in each of the focus groups. Thus, a total of 10 participants was involved in the two focus groups.
Nine focus group questions were developed from the content analysis previously performed (See Table 1 ). Participant responses were recorded on a flip chart during the interactive meeting process. The senior researcher then recorded these responses in a Lotus 123 electronic spreadsheet file to facilitate manipulation of the data the following day. Data were merged and analyzed to determine emergent work ethic themes ( Miles & Huberman, 1994 ; Silverman, 2000 ).
Table 1 Questions Used in the Focus Groups
- Describe what the term "work ethic" means to you.
- Describe to me a person who has excellent work ethic.
- What key elements need to be included in a statement defining work ethic?
- Describe the characteristics of your best [better] employees.
- Describe the characteristics of employees that possess poor work ethic.
- What do you think the relationship of work ethic is to success in the work place?
- Describe why employees with a high level of work ethic are more successful in the workplace.
- How do employers measure the success of employees in the workplace?
- What is the role of work ethic in job performance?
Needs assessment. Following the two focus groups, three technical institutes were randomly selected, using a random numbers table ( Ary, Jacobs, & Razavieh, 1996 ), to be sent a needs assessment questionnaire. Needs assessment questionnaires were completed by 15 faculty members at one Technical Institute, 20 faculty members at a second Technical Institute, and 9 faculty members at a third Technical Institute (n = 44). With 25 surveys sent to each technical institute, a return rate of 58% was obtained. Data were collected utilizing a researcher-developed needs assessment questionnaire. Three open-ended questions, designed to elicit qualitative responses, constituted the instrument. The questions were: (a) What do you like best about the GDTAE work ethic curriculum?, (b) What do you like least about the GDTAE work ethic curriculum?, and (c) How would you improve the GDTAE work ethic curriculum?. Questionnaires included an introductory paragraph to explain the purpose of the study; a statement that there were no right or wrong answers; and that participation was voluntary. Identical instruments were utilized in all institutions.
Data were merged and analyzed to determine emergent work ethic themes ( Miles & Huberman, 1994 ; Silverman, 2000 ). Commonalities among participant responses contributed to data reduction ( Miles & Huberman, 1994 ). Then the themes from the needs assessment data were merged with the themes from the focus groups and with the themes from the document analysis.
Quantitative participants. Participants in the quantitative portion of this study consisted of 202 vocational students, 18 small business owners, 19 managerial and technical personnel employed in a manufacturing environment, 32 adult and technical education educators, and 36 high school and elementary school educators employed in a county public educational system (n = 307). The sample was comprised of 36% male and 64% female subjects. Detailed demographic information about the sample is provided in Table 2.
Table 2 Characteristics of Participants who Responded to the Importance and Values Survey Items
Demographic Criteria N Percent of sample
Gender Males 112 36.5 Females 195 63.5 Age Less than 19 years 90 29.3 Age 20-24 years 52 16.9 Age 25-29 years 37 12.1 Age 30-34 years 32 10.4 Greater than 35 96 31.3 Ethnicity Caucasian 227 73.9 African-American 73 23.8 Hispanic-American 1 .3 Asian-American 3 1.0 Other 1 .3 Highest Educational Level Attained Some high school 65 21.2 H.S. diploma or GED 120 39.1 Vocational certificate or degree 17 5.5 Some college 34 11.1 College degree 69 22.5 Work Experience Part-time only 96 31.3 Less than 1 year full-time 15 4.9 1-2 years full-time 28 9.1 3-5 years full-time 45 14.7 More than 5 years full-time 120 39.1 Participant Type Students 202 65.8 Institute faculty 32 10.4 Independent business owners 18 5.9 Manufacturing 19 6.2 Elementary and high school educators 36 11.7
Quantitative instrumentation. Results of the content analysis, focus groups, and needs assessments were employed by the researcher to develop a 55-item questionnaire. Questionnaire items one through five were designed to elicit participant demographic data as delineated through the quantitative research question. Questionnaire items 6 through 30 consisted of one-word and short phrase work ethic descriptors. Questionnaire items 31 through 55 employed a series of questions designed to elicit a participant's value perceptions of various facets of the work ethic (see tables 3 through 5 ).
Participant responses from questionnaire items 6 through 30 were collapsed under a heading of Importance and summed. Similarly, participant responses for questionnaire items 31 through 55 were collapsed under a heading of Values and summed. This procedure yielded an index of work ethic perceptions and values in which higher scores were indicative of a stronger work ethic.
Cronbach's coefficient alpha (i.e., internal consistency) was employed to ascertain the reliability of the instrument. Because the instrument format employed a series of 25 short phrases and one-word descriptors and a series of 25 value-related questions, coefficient alphas were computed separately for each section. The instrument component consisting of short phrases and one-word descriptors yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .94 in the initial analysis. Therefore, all items were retained in the first part of the survey.
Initial analysis of the 25 value-related questions led to the elimination of questions 50, 51, and 55 due to low or negative item-total correlations. With the remaining 22 items, a coefficient alpha of .77 was yielded for this component. Per Nunnally ( 1978 ), these coefficient alphas of .94 and .77 are sufficiently high for research purposes. Table 3 contains all survey items, their means, and standard deviations.
Table 3 Quantitative Survey Instrument: Means and Standard Deviations
Number Survey Question M SD
6 Ability to organize your work 4.27 .78 7 Accepts constructive criticism positively 3.84 .90 8 Accepts work supervision positively 4.31 .85 9 Adherence to company policies 4.49 .73 10 Appropriate professional and social behavior 4.52 .66 11 Attendance 4.64 .64 12 Capability to adjust to different work situations 4.27 .78 13 Character 4.33 .72 14 Cooperativeness 4.50 .70 15 Diligence 4.18 .83 16 Flexibility 4.23 .82 17 Honesty 4.73 .59 18 Industrious 4.11 .86 19 Integrity 4.42 .77 20 Maturity 4.43 .78 21 Observance of safety procedures 4.49 .77 22 Positive attitude 4.44 .69 23 Productivity 4.38 .73 24 Proper use of tools and resources 4.39 .80 25 Punctuality 4.43 .72 26 Responsibility 4.64 .65 27 Responsiveness to supervision 4.39 .74 28 Tactfulness 4.25 .82 29 Teamwork 4.51 .73 30 Trustworthiness 4.74 .59 31 The ability and willingness to follow directions is important to my work. 4.69 .54 32 Attention to detail is very important in any line of work. 4.49 .68 33 Dependability is a subjective term and can not be judged by others. 2.71 1.34 34 Enthusiasm is not important if the job gets done. 2.43 1.25 35 A good work ethic is just as important as a good skill level. 4.38 .78 36 Good work ethics include being willing to do what I am asked to do even if I don't want to. 4.30 .87 37 Good work ethics include the willingness to do the right thing. 4.40 .73 38 I do not always follow directions if I know a better or an easier way. 3.13 1.14 39 I respect my supervisors and the company that I work for. 4.36 .78 40 I should follow company policies and procedures even if I don't agree with them. 4.13 .94 41 I take a lot of pride in the quality of work that I complete. 4.59 .64 42 I would be more loyal to my employer if he/she cared more about me. 3.66 1.16 43 I would be more productive if the company treated me better. 3.58 1.21 44 I would not tell the truth if one of my friends would be fired because of my answer. 2.46 1.14 45 I would overlook shady business practices if they were not illegal and it would put money in my pocket. 2.03 1.13 46 If all employees had good work ethics, then the company would do better and then all employees would do better. 4.32 .84 47 If the company wants me to be innovative and resourceful, they should pay me more. 3.01 1.07 48 I'm not really all that concerned about what other people think about the way that I dress. 2.87 1.33 49 My personal appearance does not affect my ability to do my job. 3.00 1.38 50 Results justify the means. 3.36 1.24 51 Smiling makes a person a better employee. 3.76 1.14 52 An employee should always give 8 hours work for 8 hours pay regardless of their pay rate. 4.09 .99 53 "White lies" are acceptable if the truth would cause damage to the business. 2.41 1.20 54 Everybody makes mistakes, the important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them. 4.60 .72 55 Choosing to be honest is not always the easiest thing to do. 3.98 1.22
Due to the distinct natures of the item descriptor and work ethic value related questions, separate principal component factor analyses, followed by Varimax rotations were performed. The item descriptor questions, labeled Importance, were clustered into three internally consistent factors. Factor 1, with an eigenvalue of 10.04 and 40.2% of variance explained, consisted of questions 1, 7, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 19, 23, and 29. The coefficient alpha for factor 1 was .88. Factor 2, consisting of questions 4, 5, 12, 14, 21, 22, and 30, generated an eigenvalue of 1.36 and accounted for 5.5% of the variance. The internal consistency factor for factor 2 was .82. The third factor, consisting of questions 8, 10, 13, 14, and 20, had an eigenvalue of 1.29 and accounted for 5.2% of the variance. Factor 3 generated an internal consistency factor of .80. These three factors, each possessing adequate internal consistency, explained 50.9% of the variance in participants' responses to the item descriptor questions.
The next set of items subjected to the factor analysis were the Values items. Three factors with sufficiently high internal validity were yielded. Factor 1, with an eigenvalue of 4.19 and 16.8% of variance explained, consisted of questions 35, 36, 40, 41, and 46. The internal consistency factor for factor 1 was .66. Factor 2, consisting of questions 31, 32, 37, and 39, generated an eigenvalue of 2.98 and accounted for 11.9% of the variance. Factor 2 generated an internal consistency factor of .72. The third factor, consisting of questions 34, 44, 45, and 53, had an eigenvalue 1.64 and accounted for 6.6% of the variance. The internal consistency of factor 3 initially computed as .63. Subsequent elimination of question 34 yielded an improved internal consistency of .66. These three factors explained 35.3% of the variance in participants' responses to the value item questions.
To examine the extent to which differences were present in respondents' answers on the Importance and Value factors, two multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) procedures were conducted. Initially, a MANOVA was conducted to ascertain differences on the Importance and Value factors for the variables of gender, age, and ethnicity. A statistically significant difference was present for the overall effect for gender, Roy's Largest Root (2, 248) = 4.14, p < .05, for age, Roy's Largest Root (4, 249) = 8.04, p < .001, but not for ethnicity, p > .05. No statistically significant interaction effects were present for the overall effect, p > .05. Follow-up univariate Fs revealed that statistically significant differences were present between males and females for the Importance factor, F (1, 249) = 6.85, p < .01, and for the Values factor, F (1, 249) = 3.84, p < .05. Mean scores indicated that females (M = 112.26) scored higher than males (M = 105.98) on the Importance variable. Females (M = 84.32) also scored higher on Values than males (M = 81.43). Thus, in these results, females reported stronger work ethic values than did males.
In addition, follow-up univariate Fs revealed that statistically significant differences were present among the age groups for the Importance factor, F (4, 249) = 6.06, p < .001, and for the Values factor, F (4, 249) = 4.76, p < .001. Scheffe's post hoc analysis yielded statistically significant differences for the variable Importance between participants age 19 or under (M = 105.35), and participants age 20-24 (M = 113.67), and between participants age 19 or under (M = 105.35), and participants age 35 or over (M = 111.40). Post hoc analysis yielded similar results for the Importance variable between participants age 19 or under (M = 105.35), and participants age 20-24 (M = 113.67), and between participants age 19 or under (M = 105.35), and participants age 35 or over (M = 111.40). Respondents in age group 20-24 and age group 35 and older possessed significantly higher scores on the Importance variable than did subjects age 19 or under, with age group 20-24 exhibiting the highest mean scores.
In regard to the Value factor, Scheffe's post hoc analysis revealed statistically significant differences among participants age 19 or under (M = 78.63), and the remaining four groups, participants age 20-24 (M = 83.81), participants age 25-29 (M = 84.75), participants age 30-34 (M = 86.21), and participants age 35 and over (M = 85.76). Participants age 30-34 exhibited the highest mean score.
Next, a MANOVA was conducted to ascertain whether differences were present in the Importance and Value variables as a function of educational level and work experience. A statistically significant difference was present for the overall effect for educational level, Roy's Largest Root (3, 257) = 4.44, p < .01, and for work experience, Roy's Largest Root (2, 257) = 8.85, p < .001. Follow-up univariate Fs revealed that statistically significant differences were present among the educational levels for the Importance factor, F (3, 257) = 3.09, p < .05, and for the Values factor, F (3, 257) = 3.21, p < .05. Regarding the Importance variable, Scheffe post hoc analysis yielded statistically significant differences between participants with some High School (M = 105.90), and participants with a High School Diploma or GED (M = 111.92). Participants with a High School Diploma or GED appeared to place more importance on the work ethic than those participants who did not possess such certification.
For the Values variable, Scheffe post hoc analysis yielded statistically significant differences among participants with some High School (M = 76.85), and participants with a High School Diploma or GED (M = 84.68), participants with a Vocational Certification/Degree and some college (M = 85.19), and participants with a College Degree (M = 85.35). The implication of the analysis was that participants with a College Degree, exhibited the strongest work ethic values followed by participants with a Vocational certificate or degree and some college and participants with a High school diploma or GED respectively.
In addition, follow-up univariate Fs revealed that statistically significant differences were present among the levels of work experience for the Importance factor, F (2, 257) = 6.28, p < .01, and for the Values factor, F (2, 257) = 5.65, p < .01. For the Importance factor, Scheffe post hoc analyses yielded that statistically significant differences were present between both participants with part-time experience only (M = 106.63), and participants with less than one year full-time experience (M = 112.20), and between participants with part-time experience only (M = 106.63), and participants with 1 to 2 years full-time experience (M = 110.94). Participants with full-time work experience from one to five years tended to exhibit higher scores on the Importance variable followed respectively by participants employed more than six years full-time and participants employed in a part-time capacity.
For the Values factor, Scheffe post hoc analyses revealed that participants with less than one year full-time work experience (M = 84.85), and participants with 1 to 2 years full-time work experience (M = 85.74) generated statistically significant results when compared to participants with only part-time work experience (M = 78.67). In this comparison, participants with one to two years full-time work experience exhibited the strongest work ethic values followed by participants with less than one year full-time experience, then participants with part-time experience only. All effect sizes for this statistically significant differences were small ( Cohen, 1988 ).
To permit the analysis of gender differences in depth, two discriminant analyses were conducted. First, a stepwise discriminant analysis was conducted with the Importance items as the discriminating variables and statistical significance at the .05 level as the inclusion criteria. The resulting function was statistically significant, X2 (5) = 59.68, p < .001 and accounted for 19% of the variance between groups (i.e., canonical correlation = .4323). Following the recommendations of Tabachnick and Fidell ( 1983 ), items with standardized discriminant function coefficients that had absolute values of .3 or higher were used to interpret the discriminant function. These items are displayed in Table 4 . Because the group centroids were +.35 for females and -.63 for males, positive coefficients indicated that females reported more appropriate work ethic values than males.
Next, a stepwise discriminant analysis was conducted with the Value items as the discriminating variables. Again, statistical significance at the .05 level was employed as the inclusion criteria. The resulting function was statistically significant, X2 (4) = 27.37, p < .001 and accounted for 9.47% of the variance between groups (i.e., canonical correlation = .3078). Items with standardized discriminant function coefficients of .3 or higher are displayed in Table 5 . Group centroids of +.24 for females and -.43 for males indicated that females placed higher importance on work ethic than did males.
Table 4 Standardized Discriminant Coefficients Differentiating Males and Females Based on the Variable of Importance
Question Work Ethic Importance Item Standardized
5 Appropriate professional and social behavior +.68 10 Diligence +.60 16 Observance of safety procedures +.59 23 Tactfulness +.41 13 Industrious +.39 22 Responsiveness to supervision +.39 15 Maturity +.38 4 Adherence to company policies +.37 21 Responsibility +.37 29 Teamwork +.36 18 Productivity +.36 19 Proper use of tools and resources +.34 14 Integrity +.34 9 Cooperativeness +.34 8 Character +.31 17 Positive attitude +.31
Table 5 Standardized Discriminant Coefficients Differentiating Males and Females Based on the Variable of Importance
Question Work Ethic Importance Item Standardized
35 A good work ethic is just as important as a good skill level. +.63 40 I should follow company policies and procedures even if I don't agree with them. +.59 1 Smiling makes a person a better employee. +.47 46 If all employees had good work ethics, then the company would do better and
then all employees would do better.
Instrument composition consisted of readily identifiable work ethic descriptors and a series of statements incorporating work ethic values to which participants reflected upon the conditions delineated by the questions and made a judgment choice regarding their personal response ( Miller & Coady, 1986 ) in the stated scenario. Responses regarding the importance of work ethics tended to cluster tightly around the means and exhibited narrow standard deviations. Thus, these findings were interpreted as evidence that respondents clearly recognized and supported commonly accepted work ethic values ( Hitt, 1990 ) or that respondents offered the socially acceptable response choice. In either case, responses were evidence that respondents were familiar with commonly accepted workplace values. Conversely, when responses regarding work ethic values were required, response patterns exhibited significantly wider dispersions indicating that whereas respondents tended to view these situations from similar perspectives, respondents did not view the ethical conditions in the same manner as they viewed the importance of work ethics.
Specific findings of this study will now be delineated. First, a gender effect was present, a finding that contrasts with Mirels and Garrett ( 1971 )'s study in which males and females did not report different work ethic values. In this study, females reported stronger work ethic values than males. Second, an age effect was yielded, with respondents aged 20 - 24 reporting higher work ethic values than other age categories when the importance of work ethics items was present. This finding is congruent with Buchholz's 1978 study in which he reported the strongest work ethic commitment (i.e., importance in our study) among younger workers than with older workers. However, when questions requiring respondents to respond regarding work ethic values were compared, respondents aged 30 - 34 exhibited the highest scores followed closely by respondents aged 35 or over. This finding is congruent with Gooding ( 1972 ). These differences may be attributable in part to exposure to work ethic value terminology throughout the participants' educational process in comparison to participants' maturity and experience as they assimilate the realities of the workplace.
Third, prior educational level provided yet another statistically significant effect. Participants with a High School Diploma or a GED scored slightly higher than participants with a Vocational Certificate/Degree or some college and participants with a college degree on the work ethic values items. When the importance of work ethics items were interjected into the comparison, participants with college degrees yielded higher mean scores than participants with Vocational Certificates/Degrees, participants with High School Diplomas/GEDs, or participants with some high school. Again, work ethic perceptions tended to be a function of exposure in the first comparison and a function of maturity and experience in the second comparison.
Finally, when work experience was compared against Values and Importance, statistically significant results were yielded. Participants with one to five years work experience possessed stronger work ethic values than the remaining two groups. This finding is congruent with Buchholz ( 1978 ). As with previous comparisons, when the importance of work ethics was interjected into the comparison, participants with more than five years work experience displayed higher scores than the remaining two groups. These findings were again interpreted to mean that age and maturity were directly related to participant perceptions (e.g., Buchholz, 1978 ; Gooding, 1972 ).
Several limitations of the study were present. First, this study was a two-phase mixed methods study in which initially qualitative methods were used, followed by a quantitative method ( Patten, 1997 ; Rossman & Wilson, 1991 ). Such a mixture of methods connotes a pragmatist philosophy on our part and may not be satisfactory to either the positivist or the post-positivist philosophies. Second, a convenience sample was employed for the quantitative portion of this study. This convenience sample was skewed as a result of disproportionate representation in the sample demographics on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, and work experience (see Table 2 ). However, the sample demographics do match the demographics of students who attend the technical institutes in the state of Georgia. Third, data were gathered from a geographically restricted location. Fourth, the qualitative and quantitative components of this study were directed toward the work ethic component present in the GDTAE curriculum. Fifth, this two-phase mixed methods study was intended to explore work ethics as they are defined through the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, rather than through a theoretical framework. This approach, though providing an applied focus and action-oriented information, does not lend itself well to a theoretical context. Therefore, readers should be cautious in the extent to which they generalize these findings. Until these findings are replicated, readers are urged to be tentative in any generalizations they make from this study.
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JOHN R. BOATWRIGHT teaches economics at Valdosta State University and is Director of The South Georgia Institute, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA 31698-0066, office phone number: 229-333-5830, [E-Mail: email@example.com ]. His research interests include the work ethic and work ethic measurement.
JOHN R. SLATE is professor of Educational Leadership, University of Texas at El Paso, Education Building, Rm. 501D, 500 W. University, El Paso, TX 79968-0567, office phone number: 915-747-7589, [E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ]. Dr. Slate's research interests include school reform; study skills and related variables; and mixed methods studies in educational reform.