Ethics education and locus of control: Is Rotter’s scale valid for Nigeria?

  • Kemi Ogunyemi Department of Business Ethics, Lagos Business School, Lagos
Keywords: Business ethics education, emerging economies, locus of control, moral reasoning, Rotter’s scale, validation


Managers often face moral decision crossroads that demand selfâ€leadership and require an internal locus of control. This article suggests that the concept of a locus of control should be incorporated into business ethics education in Nigeria, keeping in mind environmental characteristics that inhibit internal†ity, and, based on a qualitative study carried out in Eastern Nigeria, that Rotter’s scale be adapted to reduce response bias in this environment. Both incorporation of the concept and adaptation of the scale would be useful in enhancing the ethical reasoning capabilities of future business leaders. 


Adams, R., Kalliny, M., de los Santos, G., and Wang, Y. (2008). Marketing implications of locus of control orientation among college students: Comparisons of Hispanic and Anglo students in the United States. The Marketing Management Journal, 18, 109â€20.

Aliyu, A. (2010). Contextual analysis of business ethics practice by multinational companies in Nigeria. In Proceedings of the 2nd Annual International Conference on Business and Public Policy, March 9 – 11, 2010, Available from: Proceedings.pdf#page=1 [Last accessed on 14 April 2013].

Bernardi, R. A. (2006). Associations between Hofstede’s cultural constructs and social desirability response bias. Journal of Business Ethics, 65, 43â€53.

Boone, C. (1988). The influence of the locus of control of top managers on company strategy, structure and performance. In Abeele, P.V. (Ed.), Psychology in Micro and Macro Economics: Proceedings of the 13th Annual

Colloquium of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology 1.

Brownsberger, W. N. (1983). Development and governmental corruption – Materialism and political fragmentation in Nigeria. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 21, 215â€233.

Caliendo, M., Cobbâ€Clark, D., and Uhlendorff, A. (2010). Locus of control and job search strategies. Discussion Paper 979, German Institute for Economic Research, DIW Berlin, available at dspace/bitstream/10419/36710/1/619519924.pdf [Last accessed on 14 April 2013].

Cetin, F. (2011). The roles of selfâ€efficacy and locus of control in the intrapreneurship. Business and Economics Research Journal, 2, 69â€85.

Cherry, J. (2006). The impact of normative influence and locus of control on ethical judgments and intentions: A crossâ€cultural comparison. Journal of Business Ethics, 68, 113â€32.

Chiu, R. K. (2003). Ethical judgment and whistleblowing intention: Examining the moderating role of locus of control. Journal of Business Ethics, 43 (1/2), Business Ethics in the Global Knowledge Economy 65â€74.

Connors, W. (2010). Putting a cap on bad juju conjures up a good business. Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition, 256, (120), A1â€A16.

Davis, J. (1983). Does authority generalize? Locus of control perceptions in Angloâ€American and Mexicanâ€American adolescents. Political Psychology, 4, 101â€20.

Dean, K. L., Beggs, J. M., and Keane, T. P. (2010). Midâ€level managers, organizational context, and (un) ethical encounters. Journal of Business Ethics, 97, 51â€69.

Decker, S. (2010). Postcolonial transitions in Africa: Decolonization in West Africa and present day South Africa. Journal of Management Studies, 47, 791â€813.

DiLiello, T. C. and Houghton, J. D. (2006). Maximizing organizational leadership capacity for the future: Toward a model of selfâ€leadership, innovation and creativity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21, 319â€33.

Dijkstraa M. T. M., Beersma, B., and Evers, A. (2011). Reducing conflictâ€related employee strain: The benefits of an internal locus of control and a problemâ€solving conflict management strategy. Work and Stress, 25, 167â€84.

Duffy, P. J., Schiflett, S., and Downey, R. G. (1977). Locus of control: Dimensionality and predictability using Likert scales. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 214â€9.

Evers, A., Frese, M., and Cooper, C. L. (2000). Revisions and further developments of the occupational stress indicator: LISREL results from four Dutch studies. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 221â€40.

Forte, A. (2005). Locus of control and the moral reasoning of managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 58, 65â€77.

Furnham, A. (1986). Economic locus of control, Human Relations 39, 29â€43.

Grimes, P. W., Millea, M. J., and Woodruff, T. W. (2004). Grades – Who’s to blame? Student evaluation of teaching and locus of control. Journal of Economic Education, 35, 129â€47.

Hardwick, R. (2002). Kill or cure? The Lancet, 359, 366.

Hattrup, K., O’ Connell, M., and Labrador, J. (2005). Incremental validity of locus of control after controlling for cognitive ability and consciousness. Journal of Business and Psychology 19, 461â€81.

Hill, D. J. and Bale, R. M. (1980). Development of the mental health locus of control and mental health locus of origin scales. Journal of Personality Assessment, 44, 148â€56.

Hodgkinson, G. P. (1992). Development and validation of the strategic locus of control scale. Strategic Management Journal, 13, 311â€7.

Hyatt, T. A. and Prawitt, D. F. (2001). Does congruence between audit structure and auditors’ locus of control affect job performance? The Accounting Review, 76, 263â€74.

Jacobsâ€Lawson, J. M., Waddell E. L., and Webb, A. K. (2011). Predictors of health locus of control in older adults. Current Psychology, 30, 173â€83.

Jahoda, G. (1968). Some research problems in African education. Journal of Social Issues, 24, 161â€75.

Jahoda, G. (1970). Supernatural beliefs and changing cognitive structures among Ghanaian university students. Journal of Crossâ€Cultural Psychology, 1, 115â€30.

Jegede, O. J. and Okebukola, P. A. (1991). The effect of instruction on socioâ€cultural beliefs hindering the learning of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28, 275â€85.

Jones, C. A. (2005). Wisdom paradigms for the enhancement of ethical and profitable business practices. Journal of Business Ethics, 57, 363â€75.

Kenny, S., Curran, K., Miller, R., and Shevlin, M. (2007). A voiceXML enabled locus of control scale system designed to engage school pupils lacking commitment in the career development and decisionâ€making process. Georgian Electronic Scientific Journal: Education Science and Psychology, 1, 45â€53.

Karkoulian, S. and Mahseredjian, JA. (2012). Prediction of knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing and knowledge utilization from locus of control: An empirical investigation. Business Studies Journal, 4, 117â€30.

Kasilingam, R. and Sudha, S. (2010). Influence of locus of control on investment behaviour of individual investor. The Indian Journal of Management, 3, 17â€25.

Khan, A. A., Saleem, M., and Shahid, R. (2012). Buffering role of locus of control on stress among the college/university teachers of Bahawalpur. Pakistan Journal of Commerce and Social Sciences, 6, 158â€67.

Klockars, A. J. and Varnum, S. W. (1975). A test of the dimensionality assumptions of Rotter’s internal–external scale. Journal of Personality Assessment 39, 397â€404.

Kong, Y. and Shen, F. (2011). Impact of locus of control on health message effectiveness. Health Marketing Quarterly, 28, 354â€71.

Maciel, C. de O. and Carmago, C. (2010). Locus of control, entrepreneurial behavior and performance of small businesses. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 11, 168â€88.

MacLagan, P. (2003). Varieties of moral issue and dilemma: A framework for the analysis of case material in business ethics education. Journal of Business Ethics, 48, 21â€32.

Maqsud, M. (1981). Locus of control in Nigerian adolescents and their ethnic membership. The Journal of Social Psychology, 113, 13â€9.

Marquette, H. (2012). ‘Finding God’ or ‘moral disengagement’ in the fight against corruption in developing countries? Evidence from India and Nigeria. Public Administration and Development, 32, 11â€26.

McDevitt, R., Giapponi, C., and Tromley, C. (2007). A model of ethical decisionâ€making: The integration of process and content. Journal of Business Ethics, 73, 219â€29.

Miller, D., Kets De Vries, M., and Toulouse, JM. (1982). Top executive locus of control and its relationship to strategyâ€making, structure, and environment. Academy of Management Journal, 25, 237â€53.

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks California.

Mundell, M. L., Nicholson, M., and Christodoulou, A. (2008). Locus of control as a personâ€situation mediator in the consumer behaviour context, Advances in Consumer Researchâ€European Conference Proceedings, 8, 332â€33.

Ng, T. W. H., Sorensen, K. L., and Eby, L. T. (2006). Locus of control at work: A metaâ€analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27, 1057â€87.

Ngwodo, C. (2005). System failure, religion, corruption and violence. Available from: chrisâ€ngwodo/systemâ€failureâ€religionâ€corruptionâ€andâ€violence.html [Last accessed on 14 October 2011].

Oforiâ€Attah, K. D. (2006). The British and curriculum development in West Africa: A historical discourse. Review of Education, 52, 409â€23.

Okafor, E. E. (2007). ‘Globalisation, casualisation and capitalist business ethics: A critical overview of the situation in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. Journal of Social Science, 15, 169â€79.

Okebukola, P. A. and Jegede, O. J. (1990). Ecoâ€cultural influences upon students’ concept attainment in science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27, 661â€9.

Özen Kutanis, R., Mesci, M., and Övdür, Z. (2011). The effects of locus of control on learning performance: A case of an academic organization. Journal of Economic and Social Studies, 1, 113â€36.

Popoola, S. O. (2009). Self efficacy, information acquisition and utilization as correlates of effective decision making among managers in insurance companies in Nigeria. Malaysian Journal of Library and Information Science, 14, 1â€15.

Pratt, C. B., Ademosu, E. A., Adamolekun, W., Alabi, L., and Carr, R. L. (2011). Managing a crisis of confidence in Nigeria’s banking and financial industry. Public Relations Review, 37, 71â€3.

Reimanis, G. (1977). Locus of control in American and northeastern Nigerian students, The Journal of Social Psychology, 103, 309â€10.

Reimanis, G. and Posen, C. F. (1980). Locus of control and anomie in Western and African cultures. The Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 181â€9.

Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80, 1â€28.

Rotter, J. B. (1975). Some problems and misconceptions related to the construct of internal versus external control of reinforcement. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43, 56â€7.

Rotter, J. B. (1990). Internal versus external control of reinforcement. American Psychologist, 45, 489â€97.

Russell, C. M. and Phelps, C. L. (2009). The effect of masteryâ€focused goal setting to internalize locus of control and increase academic achievement. In proceedings of the Phi Delta Kappa International Summit on Quality Education Recruitment and Retention, October 15â€17, 2009, available atâ€[Last accessed on 14 April 2013].

Ryan, M. E. and Francis, A. J. P. (2012). Locus of control beliefs mediate the relationship between religious functioning and psychological health. Journal of Religion and Health, 51, 774â€85.

Schjoedt, L. and Shaver, K. (2012). Development and validation of a locus of control scale for the entrepreneurship domain. Small Business Economics, 39, 713â€26.

Shapero, A. (1975). The displaced, uncomfortable entrepreneur. Psychology Today, 9, 83â€8. Available from: [Last accessed on 14 April 2013].

Spector, P. E. (1982). Behaviour in organizations as a function of employees’ locus of control. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 482â€97.

Spector, P. E. et al. (2002). Locus of control and wellâ€being at work: How generalizable are western findings? Academy of Management Journal, 45, 453â€66.

Spector, P. E., Sanchez, J. I., Siu, O. L., Salgado, J., and Ma, J. (2004). Eastern versus western control beliefs at work: An investigation of secondary control, socioâ€instrumental control, and work locus of control in China and the US. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 53, 38â€60.

Stewart, G. L., Courtright, S. H., and Manz, C. C. (2011). Selfâ€leadership: A multilevel review. Journal of Management, 37, 185â€222.

Street, M. and Street, V. L. (2006). The effects of escalating commitment on ethical decisionâ€making. Journal of Business Ethics, 64, 343â€56.

Suryaningrum, D. H., Hastuti, S., and Suhartini, D. (2013). Accounting student and lecturer ethical behavior: Evidence from Indonesia. Business Education and Accreditation, 5, 31â€40.

Trevino, L. K. and Youngblood, S. A. (1990). Bad apples in bad barrels: A causal analysis of ethical decisionâ€making behaviour. Journal of Applied Psychology 75, 378â€85.

Tourangeau, R. and Yan, T. (2007). Sensitive questions in surveys. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 859â€83.

Uadiale, O. M., Fagbemi, T. O., and Ogunleye, J. O. (2010). An empirical study of the relationship between culture and personal income tax evasion in Nigeria. European Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Sciences, 20, 116â€26.

Ugwu, L. I. (2011). Unethical behaviour in Nigerian organizational settings: Its evolution, dimensions and impact on national development. Asian Social Science, 7, 20â€4.

Ukah, J. (2010). Of religion, corruption and happiness. Article in NigeriaPlus, posted on July 27, 2010. Available from: http://www.â€religionâ€corruptionâ€andâ€happinessâ€byâ€johnâ€ukah/[Last accessed on 14 October 2011].

VanSandt, C. V. and Neck, C. P. (2003). Bridging ethics and self leadership: Overcoming ethical discrepancies between employee and organizational standards. Journal of Business Ethics, 43, 363â€87.

Wang, Q., Bowling, N. A., and Eschleman, K. J. (2010). A metaâ€analytic examination of work and general locus of control. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 761â€8.

Warner, H. W., Özkan, T., and Lajunen, T. (2010). Can the traffic locus of control (Tâ€LOC) scale be successfully used to predict Swedish drivers’ speeding behaviour? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42, 1113â€7.

Wu, A. M., Tang, C. S., and Kwok, T. C. (2004). Selfâ€efficacy, health locus of control, and psychological distress in elderly Chinese women with chronic illnesses. Aging and Mental Health, 8, 21â€8.

Zaidi, S. M. (1979). Values expressed in Nigerian children’s drawings. International Journal of Psychology, 14, 163â€9.