Chinese workers’ work ethic in reformed state-owned enterprises: Implications for HRD

Jessica Li, Jean Madsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Work ethic, as the construct of work-related values and attitudes, directly affects employees' job performance. Work ethic subjects to the influence of business and social practices. China is in the mix of major economical and political transformation, although little is known about how work ethic has changed for Chinese workers since the economic reform first initiated in 1979. This study is designed to examine work ethic currently held by workers of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Findings revealed work ethic perceptions based on the multidimensional work ethic profile (MWEP), a Western work ethic profile, and the Confucian work ethic (CWE), an Eastern work ethic profile, resulted in similarities but often lived different life styles. The major differences tended to focus on perceptions of hard work, self-reliance and centrality of work. Other areas such as education, use of time, delay of graduation and other MWEP concepts were very similar to Chinese workers' work perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese workers
  • Economic reform
  • Work ethic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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