The Industrial Revolution in Western Europe together along with the growth of science and technology highlighted the significance of work ethics with focus on improvement in productivity and efficiency in formal organisations. It was believed which productivity improvement in organized sectors of economy was for the common good. Work ethics therefore was seen as a natural consequence of capitalism and individualism. Contrary to the Western thought, Oriental cultures focused on work ethic in a non-individualistic setting. This notion of work ethic was derived from the joy of community activity. The Indian culture provides expression to work ethics in the Bhagavad Gita that enumerates the virtues of work and action as an affirmative step against inaction and alienation, and also condemns the magical ritualism of the earlier societies.
Ethics influences most of the managerial decisions and internal and external activities of an organisation. While ethical behaviour involves good, right, just, honourable, and praise-worthy behaviour, unethical behaviour involves wrong, reprehensible behaviour or failure to meet an obligation. Work ethics is no longer confined to efficiency and productivity improvement but encompasses a huge range of behaviour, involving tolerance and compassion, associated with managerial roles in organisations. Work ethics thus has to be widely seen in the context of organisational ethics. Organisations are experiencing pressures both from the government and public to become transparent in their dealings along with and accountable to several stakeholders like the public, the government, customers, and the employees. Instead, there is compulsion on the part of the organisations to manage high level of efficiency and productivity, and be competitive for their sheer survival.