Development and validation of work ethic instrument to measure Chinese people's work-related values and attitudes

Jessica Li, Mei Tzu Huang, Amir Hedayati-Mehdiabadi, Yarong Wang, Xue Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Work ethic, a construct of work-related values and attitudes, is believed to have a direct impact on how people approach work, work behavior, and on-the-job performance. When people experience social transformations, their work-related values and attitudes change. The Chinese society has experienced significant transformations over an extended period of economic reform. This study is designed to develop and validate a work ethic instrument that can be used to measure current Chinese people's work-related values and attitudes. To be sensitive to the Chinese context, this study follows a process of systematic cross-context theory borrowing: borrowing a validated western work ethic instrument developed by Miller, Woehr, and Hudspeth (2002) and incorporating the findings of two qualitative studies on Chinese work ethic profile conducted previously in China to initiate the instrument development. This paper presents the research process including the data collection, instrument development, and instrument validation. A multigenerational and multiregional sample of 928 was used to conduct the study. The findings suggested an eight-dimensional profile of Chinese workers' work ethic with a robust model fit. The eight dimensions are the concept of time, work centrality, morality, leisure, delay of gratification, hard work, group dynamics, and commitment to education. Implications for the field of human resource development, limitations of the study, and calls for future research are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-73
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Resource Development Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • China
  • Chinese work ethic profile
  • economic reform
  • factor analysis
  • instrument development
  • multidimensional work ethic profile (MWEP)
  • work ethic
  • work-related values and attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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