Original Research - Special Collection: Mental Health Research in African Organisations

Workplace spirituality and the ethical behaviour of project managers

Freda van der Walt, Pieter Steyn
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 45 | a1687 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1687 | © 2019 Freda van der Walt, Pieter Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2019 | Published: 10 October 2019

About the author(s)

Freda van der Walt, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Welkom, South Africa
Pieter Steyn, Project and Programme Management, Cranefield College, Midrand, South Africa


Orientation: Despite increased interest in the topic of ethical behaviour, the unethical behaviour of individuals in various professions is increasing. In order to support professional bodies in their quest to promote ethical behaviour of professionals, one needs to consider what organisations can do to promote ethical conduct.

Research purpose: The purpose of this research study was to investigate whether organisations that have spiritual values, that is, workplace spirituality, have a significant impact on the ethical behaviour of project managers.

Motivation for the study: Project management as a profession has always been concerned about quality and ethics, but ethical behaviour seems to be on the increase rather than on the decrease. Therefore, it is necessary to consider factors within the organisational context that can promote ethical behaviour.

Research approach/design and method: The study was quantitative in nature, and data were collected from individuals studying towards a project management qualification. A descriptive case study design was used and data were collected once-off by means of a survey.

Main findings: The findings of the study indicated that workplace spirituality influenced ethical behaviour to some extent, as it promotes responsibility and fairness, which are key values of the Project Management Institute.

Practical/managerial implications: If organisations adopt spiritual values and promote a spirituality-based culture, ethical behaviour could be encouraged. However, workplace spirituality should not be seen as a quick fix to reduce unethical behaviour, and unless there is honest commitment by organisational leaders to transform organisations into humanised and spirituality-based workplaces, not much will be achieved in terms of promoting ethical behaviour.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes to the literature regarding ethical behaviour and workplace spirituality.


Workplace Spirituality; Ethical Behaviour; Values; Project Management; Ethical Conduct.


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Crossref Citations

1. Workplace spirituality: The fifth gospel for the modern workplace?
Laetus Lategan, Deseré Kokt
Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship  vol: 87  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.19108/KOERS.87.1.2535