Original Research

Differential item functioning of the UWES-17 in South Africa

Leanne Goliath-Yarde, Gert Roodt
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a897 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.897 | © 2011 Leanne Goliath-Yarde, Gert Roodt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2010 | Published: 15 November 2011

About the author(s)

Leanne Goliath-Yarde, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Gert Roodt, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Orientation: South Africa’s unique cultural diversity provides a constant challenge about the fair and unbiased use of psychological measures in respect of their cross-cultural application.

Research purpose: This study assesses the Differential Item Functioning (DIF) of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-17) for different South African cultural groups in a South African company.

Motivation for the study: Organisations are using the UWES-17 more and more in South Africa to assess work engagement. Therefore, research evidence from psychologists or assessment practitioners on its DIF across different cultural groups is necessary.

Research design, approach and method: The researchers conducted a Secondary Data Analysis (SDA) on the UWES-17 sample (n = 2429) that they obtained from a cross-sectional survey undertaken in a South African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector company (n = 24 134). Quantitative item data on the UWES-17 scale enabled the authors to address the research question.

Main findings: The researchers found uniform and/or non-uniform DIF on five of the vigour items, four of the dedication items and two of the absorption items. This also showed possible Differential Test Functioning (DTF) on the vigour and dedication dimensions.

Practical/managerial implications: Based on the DIF, the researchers suggested that organisations should not use the UWES-17 comparatively for different cultural groups or employment decisions in South Africa.

Contribution/value add: The study provides evidence on DIF and possible DTF for the UWES-17. However, it also raises questions about possible interaction effects that need further investigation.


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