Quality of work and work life: understanding the work ethic of medical professionals in selected hospitals in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa

Kwizera, Alice Stella (2012) Quality of work and work life: understanding the work ethic of medical professionals in selected hospitals in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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This thesis reports a study of work ethic values, beliefs and attitudes held by medical professionals in selected hospitals in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The study was in response to the public outcry about the declining work ethic and poor service delivery in South Africa’s healthcare sector. Scholarly interest in the work ethic and its role in economic development dates back to Max Weber’s classical work, which was the starting point for my study. The German economic sociologist published his seminal essay on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in 1904/1905. Since that time, Weber’s ideas on the Protestant work ethic continue to inform and influence studies of the contemporary work ethic, which is thought to have become secularised. My study was informed by data collected in 2009 through a questionnaire survey and personal interviews. A total of 174 doctors and nurses, working in four urban, periurban and rural hospitals near East London, completed a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire replicated the Multi-Dimensional Work Ethic Profile (MWEP) developed by Miller, Woehr and Hudspeth in 2001/2002. The instrument examines seven critical dimensions of the work ethic, namely self-reliance, morality, (foregoing) leisure, hard work, centrality of work in life, not wasting time, and delay of gratification. In addition, I conducted personal interviews in the same four hospitals with 41 hospital managers, doctors, nurses, and patients to discuss their understanding of the work ethic and its practical application. The study found that both doctors’ and nurses’ overall work ethic scores on the MWEP scale were above average. Although there was no significant differencebetween the overall work ethic scores of the two professions, doctors scored significantly higher than nurses on the ‘hard work’ and ‘self reliance’ dimensions of the work ethic scale. In the qualitative study, the doctors’ work ethic was rated much more highly than the nurses’ by their superiors and patients; and the work ethic of nurses in the urban hospitals was rated much lower than that of their rural colleagues. In contradiction to the idea of the secularization of the contemporary work ethic, religiosity and religious beliefs were influential in the endorsement of work ethic principles. In line with the notion that ‘happy’ workers are more productive, job and life satisfaction were found to be strong correlates of the work ethic of medical professionals.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Work ethic, Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Medical professionals, Hospitals, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Healthcare sector, Doctors, Nurses, Managers, Patients, Self-reliance, Morality, Leisure, Hard work, Centrality of work, Time wasting, Gratification, Religious belief
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Sociology and Industrial Sociology
Supervisors:Møller, Valerie
ID Code:3818
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:25 Oct 2012 13:22
Last Modified:25 Oct 2012 13:22
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