Dimensionality of the UWES-17: An item response modelling analysis

Gideon P. de Bruin, Carin Hill, Carolina M. Henn, Klaus Peter Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Orientation: Questionnaires, particularly the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-17), are an almost standard method by which to measure work engagement. Conflicting evidence regarding the dimensionality of the UWES-17 has led to confusion regarding the interpretation of scores. Research purpose: The main focus of this study was to use the Rasch model to provide insight into the dimensionality of the UWES-17, and to assess whether work engagement should be interpreted as one single overall score, three separate scores, or a combination. Motivation for the study: It is unclear whether a summative score is more representative of work engagement or whether scores are more meaningful when interpreted for each dimension separately. Previous work relied on confirmatory factor analysis; the potential of item response models has not been tapped. Research design: A quantitative cross-sectional survey design approach was used. Participants, 2429 employees of a South African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company, completed the UWES-17. Main findings: Findings indicate that work engagement should be treated as a unidimensional construct: individual scores should be interpreted in a summative manner, giving a single global score. Practical/managerial implications: Users of the UWES-17 may interpret a single, summative score for work engagement. Findings of this study should also contribute towards standardising UWES-17 scores, allowing meaningful comparisons to be made. Contribution/value-add: The findings will benefit researchers, organisational consultants and managers. Clarity on dimensionality and interpretation of work engagement will assist researchers in future studies. Managers and consultants will be able to make better-informed decisions when using work engagement data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1148
JournalSA Journal of Industrial Psychology
Issue number2 SPL
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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