Original Research

The development and investigation of the psychometric properties of a burnout scale within a South African agricultural research institution

Doris N. Asiwe, Lené I. Jorgensen, Carin Hill
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 1 | a1194 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i1.1194 | © 2014 Doris N. Asiwe, Lené I. Jorgensen, Carin Hill | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 January 2014 | Published: 18 September 2014

About the author(s)

Doris N. Asiwe, WorkWell, Research Unit for Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Lené I. Jorgensen, WorkWell, Research Unit for Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Carin Hill, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Burnout of employees is well documented within South Africa, but researchers have adapted imported instruments with a number of limitations. Therefore there is a need to develop a new instrument suitable for use in South Africa.

Research purpose: To give an overview of current burnout measures, identify gaps within the literature and develop a new burnout scale for use within South Africa. The research examined the construct validity, reliability, construct equivalence and item bias of this new scale and investigated any differences that exist in relation to demographic variables.

Motivation for the study: This study aimed to address various limitations regarding existing measures by developing a reliable and valid instrument for measuring burnout in South African employees that includes cognitive, physical and emotional (affective) components.

Research approach, design and method: This empirical, quantitative research study delivered a cross-sectional survey, including the burnout scale and a biographical data questionnaire, to 443 employees of an agricultural research institution. Items for the burnout scale were written based on a literature review.

Main findings: Exploratory factor analysis with target rotations resulted in a three-factor burnout model. Reliability analysis showed that all three scales (1) were sufficiently internally consistent and (2) showed construct equivalence for Black and White employees and speakers of Afrikaans and African languages. A practically significant difference in burnout levels was found in relation to age.

Practical/managerial implications: The scale can be used to assess burnout for different cultural groups within research-based institutions.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to knowledge regarding the burnout levels of employees in an agricultural research institution in South Africa and provides a new burnout scale that can be utilised in similar institutions.


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