Individual Work Ethic And Job Satisfaction: A Correlational Study Using Self-Determination Theory

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Beverly Smith

Committee Member

Charles Fenner

Committee Member

Daniel Dayton


The problem facing organizations is that of high employee turnover and lack of employee engagement. The lack of employee commitment caused by skill shortages and economic growth undermines the organization's ability to survive and compete. Previous work ethic and job satisfaction research have established a statistically significant positive correlation between reduced employee turnover and employee commitment. This quantitative research study uses a purposeful sample of MBA students to examine if and to what extent a relationship exists between work ethic and job satisfaction in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This population was selected because they are both students and full-time employees across multiple industries. Rather than rely on religious or cultural values, the study is based on Self Determination Theory (SDT), which provides a universal base to explore a possible relationship between an individual's work ethic and job satisfaction. This theoretical perspective shifts the focus of traditional work ethic and job satisfaction values from cultural and religious to individual development as it interacts with the perceived opportunity. This research establishes a universal base that can apply across similar and dissimilar cultures. Finding from this data indicate a strong correlation between Employability Skills Assessment (work ethic) and job satisfaction A moderate correlation was established between the sub-factors of initiative, dependability, and interpersonal skills. Graduating students who master the necessary employability skills will be more successful according to the ESA scores and more likely to achieve job satisfaction.