Guangdong is the province one step ahead in China and Guangzhou is the city one step ahead in Guangdong.' Being one of the most economically active cities in China, Guangzhou citizens have generally experienced improved living standards and a better quality of life since the economic reform started in the late 1970s. What is also true is that economic modernization has changed the social structure, allowing far more social mobility in the post-Mao society. Nowadays, people living in Guangzhou have more job choices in a relatively free labour market. This paper is set in such a socio-economic context to examine the job preferences and work ethics of Guangzhou citizens, with particular reference to what changes have taken place in people's work values after the adoption of a market economy in the mainland. The paper is based on our current research projects conducted in the Guangzhou area to examine how socio-economic changes have affected people's value orientations and is confined to discussion of whether people living in Guangzhou have changed their attitudes towards work in the 1990s.