The development and initial validation of the work convictions questionnaire (WCQ) to measure approaches to ethical decision making in the workplace: Part 2

  • Estelle Boshoff Department of Industrial Psychology University of the Free State
  • Tina Kotzé UFS Business School, University of the Free State
  • Petrus Nel Department of Industrial Psychology, University of the Free State


Researchers have indicated that the individual’s ethical decision-making approach influences the manner in which ethical problems are managed and decisions are made. It became apparent from the literature that there is a need for the development of a reliable and valid work ethics questionnaire that determines individuals’ ethical decision-making approaches. A work ethics questionnaire, the Work Convictions Questionnaire (WCQ), based on six main approaches that influence ethical decision making, was developed and administered to a sample of 524 respondents. Both exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were used to evaluate the psychometric properties of the WCQ. Two competing conceptualisations of the WCQ (one factor and six factors) were evaluated. From the statistical analyses, the six-factor structure exhibited an acceptable fit and high reliability. It can therefore be concluded that the WCQ provides a reliable and valid measure for the six approaches to ethical decision making. 


Aristotle. 1972. The Nicomachean ethics of Aristotle. Translated by D. Ross. London: Oxford University Press.

Aristotle. 1977. The ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean ethics. Translated by J. A. K. Thomson, revised by H. Tredennick. England: Penguin Books.

Ashley, P., Powers, C. & Schunter, M. 2002. From privacy promises to privacy management. Proceedings of the 2002 Workshop on New Security Paradigms, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Bandalos, D. L. 2002. The effects of item parceling on goodness-of-fit and parameter estimate bias in structural equation modeling. Structural Equation Modeling, 9:78-102.

Bentler, P. M. 2006. EQS 6: Structural equations program manual. California: Multivariate Software.

Bless, C., Higson-Smith, C. & Sithole, S. L. 2013. Fundamentals of social research methods: An African perspective. 5th Edition. Cape Town: Juta Education (Pty) Ltd.

Boshoff, E. 2009. Die ontwikkeling van ’n werksetiekvraelys gebaseer op ’n holistiese filosofiese model van etiese besluitneming. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Bloemfontein: University of the Free State.

Boshoff, E. & KotzeÌ, M. 2011. The conceptualization and measurement of philosophical approaches that influence ethical decision-making in the work context: Part 1. African Journal of Business Ethics, 5(1):36-49.

Brown, T. A. 2006. Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Byrne, B. M. 2005. Factor analytic models: Viewing the structure of an assessment instrument from three perspectives. Journal of Personality Assessment, 85:17-32.

Chryssides, G. D. & Kaler, J. H. 2005. An introduction to business ethics. London: Thomson Learning.

Davis, M. A., Andersen, M. G. & Curtis, M. B. 2001. Measuring ethical ideology in business ethics: A critical analysis of the Ethics Position Questionnaire. Journal of Business Ethics, 32:35-53.

Desjardins, J. 2006. An introduction to business ethics. 2nd Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Desjardins, J. R. & McCall, J. 1996. Contemporary issues in business ethics. 3rd Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Esterhuyse, W. 1991. Sake­etiek in die praktyk. Pretoria: J. L. van Schaik (Edms.) Bpk.

Field, A. 2005. Discovering statistics using SPSS. 2nd Edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Field, A., Miles, J. & Field, Z. 2012. Discovering statistics using R. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

Forsyth, D. R. (n.d.) Studying our social world. [Online] Available: http://donforsyth. questionnaire [Accessed 1 August 2013].

Fox, C. M. & Bond, T. G. 2007. Applying the Rasch model: Fundamental measurement in the human sciences. 2nd Edition. Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.

Garofalo, C. 2003. Toward a global ethic: Perspectives on values, training and moral agency. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 16(7):490-501.

Gibson, K. 2007. Ethics and business: An introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gordon, K. & Miyake, M. 2001. Business approaches to combating bribery: A study of codes of conduct. Journal of Business Ethics, 34:161-173.

Gross-Schaefer, A., Trigilio, J., Negus, J. & Ro, C. S. 2000. Ethics education in the workplace: An effective tool to combat employee theft. Journal of Business Ethics, 26:89-100.

Hagtvet. K. A. & Nasser, F. M. 2004. How well do item parcels represent conceptually defined latent constructs? A two-facet approach. Structural Equation Modeling, 11(2):168-193.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J. Anderson, R. E. & Tatham, R. L. 2006. Multivariate data analysis. 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Hu, L. & Bentler, P. M. 1999. Cut-off criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1):1-55.

Jackson, D. L., Gillaspy, J. A. & Purc-Stephenson, R. 2009. Reporting practices in confirmatory factor analysis: An overview and some recommendations. Psychological Methods, 14(1):6-23.

James, H. S. 2002. When is a bribe a bribe? Teaching a workable definition of bribery. Teaching Business Ethics, 6(2):199-217.

Kline, J. M. 2005. Ethics for international business: Decision­making in a global political economy. London: Routledge.

Kohlberg, L. 1969. Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company.

Kujala, J., Lamsa, A. & Penttila, K. 2011. Managers’ moral decision-making patterns over time: A multidimensional approach. Journal of Business Ethics, 100:191-207.

Kujala, J. & Pietiläinen, T. 2007. Developing moral principles and scenarios in the light of diversity: An extension to the Multidimensional Ethics Scale. Journal of Business Ethics, 70(2):141-150.

Little, T. D., Cunningham, W. A., Shahar, G. & Widaman, K. F. 2002. To parcel or not to parcel: Exploring the question, weighing the merits. Structural Equation Modelling, 9:151-173.

Louw, D. A. & Edwards, D. J. A. 2005. Psychology: An introduction for students in Southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Sandton: Heinemann Higher & Further Education (Pty) Ltd.

MacNab, Y. C., Malloy, D. C., Hadjistavro- poulos, T., Sevigny, P. R., McCarthy, E. F., Murakami, M., Paholpak, S., Natarajan, S. & Liu, P. L. 2011. Idealism and relativism across cultures: A cross-cultural examination of physicians’ responses on the Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ). Journal of Cross­Cultural Psychology, 42(7):1272-1278.

Malan, F. & Smit, B. 2001. Ethics and leadership in business and politics. Lansdowne: Juta.

Malloy, D. C. & Zakus, D. H. 1995. Ethical decision-making in sport administration: A theoretical inquiry into substance

and form. Journal of Sport Management, 9:36-58.

McCall, J. J. 2006. Deceptive advertising. In F. Allhoff & A. Vaidya (Eds.), Business ethics (Volume III). London: SAGE Publications.

McMahon, J. M. & Harvey, R. J. 2007. Psychometric properties of the Reidenbach-Robin Multidimensional Ethics Scale. Journal of Business Ethics, 72:27-39.

Moore, R. S. & Radloff, S. E. 1996. Attitudes towards business ethics held by South African students. Journal of Business Ethics, 15:863-869.

Pojman, L. P. 2000. Life and death: Grappling with the moral dilemmas of our time. 2nd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Preble, J. F. & Reichel, A. 1988. Attitudes towards business ethics of future managers in the U.S. and Israel. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(12):941-949.

Price, G. & Van der Walt, A. J. 2013. Changes in attitudes towards business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 113:429-440.

Rae, S. B. 1995. Moral choices: An introduction to ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

Rawls, J. 1971. A theory of justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Rossouw, D., Prozesky, M., Van Heerden, B. & Van Zyl, M. 2006. Ethics for accountants and auditors. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Rossouw, D. & Van Vuuren, L. 2004. Business ethics. 3rd Edition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

Sims, R. L. & Gegez, A. E. 2004. Attitudes towards business ethics: A five nation comparative study. Journal of Business Ethics, 50:253-265.

Small, M. W. 1992. Attitudes towards business ethics held by Western Australian students: A comparative study. Journal of Business Ethics, 11:745-752.

Solomon, R. C. 1994. Above the bottom line: An introduction to business ethics. 2nd Edition. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Stead, W. E., Worrel, D. L. & Stead, J. G. 2013. An integrative model for understanding and managing ethical behaviour in organizations. In A. C. Michalos & D. C. Poff (Eds.), Journal of Business Ethics: Celebrating the first thirty years of publication. Oxford: Butterworth- Heinemann Ltd.

Swanepoel, B., Erasmus, B., Van Wyk, M. & Schenk, H. 2003. South African human resource development: theory and practice. 3rd Edition. Lansdowne: Juta.

Trevino, L. K. & Nelson, K. A. 2007. Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. 4th Edition. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Weiss, J. W. 1998. Business ethics: A stakeholder and issues management approach. 2nd Edition. Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Worthington, R. L. & Whittaker, T. A. (2006). Scale development research: A content analysis and recommendations for best practice. The Counseling Psychologist, 34:806-838.