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This study investigated the influence of role discretion and shift work on ethical behaviour of nurses. One hundred and seventy four (174) nurses from University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, and National Orthopaedic hospital all in Enugu with age range of 24-65years and a mean age of 40.25years participated in the study. A cross sectional survey design was employed in the study. Two scales which include Job role discretion scale (Hackman & Oldham, 1975) and Ethical behaviour inventory (Kanu, 2009) were used in gathering the data for the study. A 2 X 2 Analysis of Variance was adopted in testing the hypothesis. The result showed that role discretion did not significantly influence ethical behaviour of nurses F (1,170) = -269.42, P>.05. Also, the result showed no significant influence of shift work on ethical behaviour of nurses F (1,170) =-1.20 P>.05. There was no significant interaction effect between role discretion and shift work on ethical behaviour of nurses. The result and its implication were discussed and suggestions made for further research.
Keywords: Role discretion, shift work, ethical behaviour, nurses

A disturbing but unavoidable fact of organization life is that employees sometimes engage in ethically questionable activities that harm their companies, their co-workers, or the general public (Ugwu, 2011). The question of ethics is one that is linked with the history of mankind.
It deals with good or bad, right or wrong of behaviour, it evaluates conducts against some absolute criteria and puts negative or positive value on it (Hanekon, 1984; Guy, 1990). What is needed in today’s complicated times is for more organizations to step forward and operate with one positive ethical culture. Besides, understanding the meaning of ethics and morality requires the distasteful reworking of the long forgotten classroom studies. Possibly, a gap in philosophical knowledge exists between organizations. They have and will continue to be a surge of interest in ethics (Dordrecht, 1992).

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that investigates morality and the way of thinking that guide human behaviour. It involves initially from religion of thinkers in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Ethics involves examining moral standards of society and asking how these
standards are reasonable or unreasonable. Thus, ethics examines the moral standards of society, assesses their reasonableness or not, and evaluates the impact of these standards upon the lives of individuals. Implicit in this is the notion of the common good, which is one of the
factors that determine whether an act is right or wrong (Vee & Skit More, 2003). Ethics also refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standard, feeling, laws, and social norms.

So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standard to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means the continuous efforts of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institution we help to shape, lives

Formally defined, ethical behaviour is that which is normally accepted as ‘right’ as opposed to ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ in a particular setting. Is it ethical, for example to pay a bribe to obtain a business contract in a foreign country? Is it ethical to allow your company to withhold information that might discourage a job candidate from joining your organization? Etc. Despite ones’ initial inclination in response to these questions, the major point of it all is to remind organisations that the public at large is demanding that government officials, managers, workers in general and the organizations they represent all act according to high ethical standards. The future will bring a renewed concern with maintaining high standard of ethical behaviour in organizational transactions in the work place (Dordrecht, 1992).

Ethical behaviour is characterized by honesty, fairness and equity in interpersonal, professional and academic relationships, and in research and scholarly activities. Ethical behaviour respects the dignity, diversity, and rights of individuals and group of people. This definition is not a denial of the existence of other ethical duties with respect to practice, professional service delivery and research. These words demonstrate the significance of the language in which moral issues are concluded, or ‘moral training,’ using moral language (words like integrity honesty, fairness, propriety or lying, cheating, stealing), will more likely trigger moral thinking because these terms are attached to existing cognitive categories that have moral content (Crane & Matten, 2004). While ethics is concerned with human conduct
in general, researchers such as Ray, Brook, More & Fraser (1999) identified ethical issues in the organization as falling into two categories. These are: Personal ethics and Professional ethics.

Personal ethics describes ethics as generally constituting a system of moral principles by which human actions and proposals may be judged good or bad, right or wrong; the rules of conduct recognized in respect of a particular class of actions and the moral principles of the individuals. Professional ethics on the other hand, refers to the behaviour expected of anindividual in a workplace or in an organization or a particular group within the organization that is bound by a set of principles, attitudes or types of character dispositions that control the way the profession is practices (Vee & Skit More, 2003). To clarify the term ‘Professional’, Ray et al (1999) defined Professional as a group of people organised to serve a body of specialized knowledge in the interest of the society. Professional ethics involves assessing each decision in practise not only in regard to individuals’ moral concerns but also in terms of professional norms. ‘Profession’ is defined as including all tiers of the organization itself as well as the Client(s) and the government.

Kaiser & Hogan (2006) highlighted the importance of temporal connections between role discretion and shift work and the meaning people assign to their activities and engagements. Discretion is a multifaceted variable that reflects the degree to which employees can turn their intentions into reality, what Hambrick & Finkelsten (1987) called ‘Latitude of action’.
When discretion is low, managerial judgement and behaviour are constrained, while when it is high, employees are relatively free to do as they wish. Thus, discretion Is a situational variable that moderates how much workers can affect organizational processes and outcomes.
Some line of researches has shown how discretion influences leadership in an organizational sector such as social psychology of discretion, which is an influential critique of traditional personality psychology. Mischel (1968) argued that behaviour is determined by situational factors rather than personality variables. He later considered that personality may influence behaviour but only in ‘weak situations’. According to Mischel (1968), strong situations provides clear, unambiguous cues about appropriate behaviour and that lead to less variability  in how people respond.

Weak situations provide only ambiguous cues for actions; these conditions allow greater opportunity for personality to influence behaviour. Situation strength has been used to analyze organizational behaviour (Weiss & Adler, 1984). Research shows, for example, that job autonomy moderate the relationship between personality and performance (Barrick & Mount, 1993). However, the concept of situation strength is obviously related to discretion, thus situation strength should be inversely related to organizational level because with increasing organizational status, autonomy increases roles and performance criteria when autonomy is less clearly defined (Zakada, 1999). Role discretion can be explained as the amount of leeway individuals have in performing their jobs (Karasek, 1979; Anderson, 2003). Though role discretion have been suggested and opined by researchers to influence ethical behaviour, major empirical findings are yet to support these assertion (Selher & Fenner, 2009). They further suggest that role discretion may have a significant influence and impact on employee ethical behaviour. However, the study of shift work in relation to job role discretion may help determine an employee’s ethical behaviour among nurses. Shift work is defined as ‘non-standard schedules requiring that at least 50% of the work be done at a time other than between 8am and 4Pm (Parkas, 2003). It is necessary and becoming more popular to work at night. Many occupations require shift work such as the medical professions example, doctors, nurses, and the security etc.

National Population Health (N.P.H) Survey (1994, 1995), defined shift work as anything but a regular day time schedule and other. Raines (2000) in a study of 229 nurses found that they experienced an average of 32 different types of ethical dilemma daily. In addition, nearly 4 out of 5 nurses reported a stress level of 6 or more on a scale of an old age psychiatry wards, it was found that doctors and nurses differed in respect to patient’s autonomy. In addition, they also valued relationships, character, and virtues more than doctors in everyday patient relationship; nurses are also likely to face more serious consequences of their decisions than physicians when faced with an ethical problem. In response, nursing ethic committee were set up by nursing professionals to address ethical concept and legal issues (Joseph & Deshparde, 1996). In a survey sampling of 140 certificate students from a tertiary programme, Yung (2008) found that role discretion is a significant predictor of ethical behaviour. Multiple regression analysis showed that ideal role discretion was a significant predictor, accounting for 46% of the variance in the ideal ethical score of the degree students. The result also found that role discrepancies have a negative effect on the actual ethical behaviour of the degree students.

This result suggests that professional values developed through socialization in nurses education programmes benefit patients, when degree students adapt successfully to the demands of bureaucratic organization (Yung, 2008). Furnham & Hughes (1999) found that night workers were significantly less oriented with ethical behaviour than day workers. In a random sample of four occupations, researchers revealed that day workers showed absent ethical behaviour more than night workers. Also, findings show that level of job strain (a combination of perceived job demand and control), in shift workers and day workers were not found to be significantly different when examined on ethical behaviour (Knutsson & Nilsson, 1997).

Consistent with the finding of Furnham & Hughes (1999), Boggild, Burr, Tuchsen and Teppersen (2001) in their study, found that among shift workers, day workers showed a higher score on ethical behaviour comparable to night workers. The result of the study suggests that employees who run night services are less ethically oriented than those who run day services. Also, in their study, skill and role discretion was also rated significantly less favourable to night workers on ethical behaviour (Boggild et al, 2001). Parkas (2003) reported in her study that shift work has a significant influence on ethical behaviour. In her study using 1,867 employees, result showed that perceived work

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