Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew S. Mingus

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Liggett

Third Advisor

Dr. Satish Deshpande


The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to replicate Victor and Cullen's (1987; 1988) studies to confirm whether ethical climates (ECs) arise in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and whether organizations and groups within organizations have identifiable ECs; and (2) to test a model that examines the effects of ECs and perceived organizational support (POS) on licensed nurses' turnover intention (TOI) through job satisfaction (JS) and organizational commitment (OC).

A cross-sectional survey design was implemented. Three hundred and fifty nine freestanding SNFs were selected in a midwestern state. While a total of 110 facilities (31%) agreed to participate, responses were received from nurses representing 100 of those facilities (27.9%). A total of 656 usable questionnaires were returned of the 3060 distributed--a 21.4% response rate.

Confirmatory factor analysis and construct validity tests confirmed five distinct ECs: instrumental, independence, caring, professionalism, and rules.

MANOVA and ANOVA results revealed that (1) government facilities had the greatest emphasis on law and code in their EC, whereas non-profit facilities emphasized mostly caring climate, and (2) within organizations, significant differences in EC perceptions were detected by job title and job level.

The proposed theoretical model had appropriate goodness-of-fit indices (RMSEA = .04; CFI = .95; SRMR = .04) and construct validity. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that (1) the explained variance of TOI was 53%, with six major determinants: OC, JS, years in facility, instrumental climate, age group, and facility ownership type; (2) JS and OC independently explained TOI; (3) caring, instrumental and professionalism climates were related to OC; (4) caring, instrumental, and independence climates were determinants of POS; and (5) caring climate was related to JS. Sobel-Goodman and Aroian mediation tests revealed that (1) POS influenced TOI only indirectly through its effects on JS and OC; and (2) POS mediated the relationships between caring and instrumental climates and JS, OC, and TOI.

The findings suggested that ECs and POS might operate on the turnover continuum and retention interventions might be focused on organizational level. Additional theoretical and applied implications of the findings were discussed and study limitations and suggestions for future research were given.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access