An adapted measure of ethical climate in organisations – a South African study

Anton Grobler


A study was conducted to analyse the ethical climate typology of the Ethical Climate Questionnaire empirically, in order to develop a unique South African typology. This typology was tested for the equivalence of the construct between the private and public sector. A three ethical climate type solution was found (in contrast with the initial nine, and later five type typology). The results suggest that the construct is equivalent for both the private and public sectors. The findings could be used as a foundation for future studies, as well as for ethical climate measurement within the South African context.


Ethical climate; Ethical Climate Questionnaire (ECQ); measurement ethical climate; Victor and Cullen’s ethical climate typology; locus of analysis; ethical criteria; management of ethics.

Full Text:



Arnaud, A. 2010. Conceptualizing and measuring ethical work climate. Development and validation of the Ethical Climate Index. Business and Society, 49(2): 345-358.

Cullen, J., Victor, J.B. and Bronson, J.W. 1993. The Ethical Climate Questionnaire: An Assessment of its Development and Validity. Psychological Reports, 73(2): 667-674.

DeConinck, J.B. 2011. The effects of ethical climate on organizational identification, supervisory trust, and turnover among salespeople. Journal of Business Research, 64: 617–624.

Deshpande, S. P., Joseph, J. and Shu, X. 2011. Ethical Climate and Managerial Success in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 527-534.

Fritzsche, D.J. 2000. Ethical climates and the ethical dimension of decision making. Journal of Business Management, 24: 125-140.

Guerci, M., Radaelli, G., Siletti, E., Cirella, S., & Shani, A.B.R. 2015. The impact of human resource management practices and corporate sustainability on organizational ethical climates: an employee perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 126: 325–342.

Hair, J.F., Black, W.C., Babin, B.J. and Anderson, R.E. 2010 Multivariate data analysis. a global perspective. 7th Edition. Boston: MA. Pearson.

Huang, C., You, C. and Tsai, M. 2012. A multidimensional analysis of ethical climate, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviours. Nursing Ethics, 19(4): 513–529.

Hwang, J. and Park, H. 2014. Nurses’ perception of ethical climate, medical error experience and intent-to-leave. Nursing Ethics, 21(1): 28-42.

Leedy, P.D. and Ormrod, J.E. 2014. Practical research, planning and design (10th ed). New Jersey, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.

Martin, K.D., & Cullen, J.B. 2006. Continuities and extensions of ethical climate theory: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Business Ethics, 69(2): 175-194.

Mayer, D. M, Kuenzi, M., and Greenbaum, R. L. 2009. Making ethical climate a mainstream management topic: A review, critique, and prescription for the empirical research on ethical climate. In D. De Cremer (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on ethical behavior and decision making: 181-213. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Mayer, D.M., Kuenzi, M., and Greenbaum, R.L. 2010. Examining the link between ethical leadership and employee misconduct: the mediating role of ethical climate. Journal of Business Ethics, 95: 7–16.

Meyers, L.S., Gamst, G. and Guarino, A.J. 2013. Applied multivariate research. Design and interpretation. 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Nunnally, J.C. & Bernstein, I.H. 1994. Psychometric theory. 3rd Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill.

Pallant, J. 2013. SPSS survival manual: a step by step guide to data analysis using IBM SPSS. 5th Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill.

Parboteeah, K. P. and Cullen, J.B. 2003. Ethical climates and spirituality: an exploratory examination of theoretical links. In

Giacalone, R.A. & Jurkiewicz, C.L. (eds). Handbook of workplace spirituality and organisational performance, Armonk: M.E. Sharpe: 191-204.

Parboteeah, K. P. and Kapp, E 2008. Ethical climates and safety-enhancing behaviors: An empirical test. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(3): 515-529.

Parboteeah, K.P., Chen, H.C., Lin, Y., Chen, I., Lee, A.Y. and Chung, A. 2010. Establishing organisational ethical climates: How do managerial practices work. Journal of Business Ethics, 97: 591-611.

Peterson, D.K. 2002. The relationship between unethical behavior and the dimensions of the ethical climate questionnaire. Journal of Business Ethics, 41(4): 313-326.

Rasmussen, K., Malloy, D. and Agarwal, J. 2003. The ethical climate of government and non-profit organizations: implications for public-private partnerships. Public Management Review, 5(1): 83-97.

Schneider, B. 1975. Organizational climate: an essay. Personnel Psychology, 28: 447-479.

Schwepker, C., & Hartline, M. 2005. Managing the Ethical Climate of Customer-Contact Service Employees. Journal of Service Research, 7(4): 377-397.

Shacklock, A., Manning, M. and Hort, L. 2011. Dimensions and Types of Ethical Climate within Public Sector Human Resource Management. Journal of New Business Ideas & Trends, 9(1): 51-66.

Shafer, W.E. 2015. Ethical climate, social responsibility and earnings management. Journal of Business Ethics, 126: 43-60.

Tabachnick, B.G. and Fidell, L.S. 2007. Using multivariate statistics. 5th Edition. Boston: Pearson.

Van de Vijver, F. and Leung, K. 1997. Methods and data analysis for cross-cultural research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Victor, B. and Cullen, J.B. 1987. A theory and measure of ethical climate in organizations. Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy, 9: 51-71.

Victor, J.B. and Cullen, J. 1988. The Organizational Bases of Ethical Work Climates. Administrative Science Quarterly 33: 101-125.

Webber, S. 2007. Ethical climate typology and questionnaire: A discussion of instrument modifications. The journal of academic librarianship, 33 (5), 567-580.

West, S.G., Finch, J.F. and Curran, P.J. 1995. Structural equation models with non-normal variables: problems and remedies, in Structural equation modelling: concepts, issues, and applications, edited by R.H. Hoyle. Thousand Oaks: Sage: 159–176.

Wu, Y. and Tsai, P.J. 2012. Multi-dimensional relationships between paternalistic leadership and perceptions of organizational ethical climates. Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing, 111(2): 509-527.

Yener, M., Yaldiran, M. and Ergun, S. 2012. The Effect of Ethical Climate on Work Engagement. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, 58: 724-73.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 0976-3600 (on-line) ; ISSN 1817-7417 (print)

Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2014.


This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help