Control and Complexity scale


This measure, (Control and Complexity) developed by Frese, Kring, Soose, and Zempel (1996), assesses control and complexity in a job in terms of an employee’s ability to influence working conditions and work strategies. It measures complexity of work in terms of  how difficult an individual’s  job decisions  are (Frese et al., 1996). If employees have low levels of control at work and expect that nothing can be done because they lack control, they are unlikely to persist in the face of setbacks. On the other hand, decision-making power enhances a worker’s feeling of empowerment and sense of responsibility for a job. In addition, work complexity generally leads to the development and practice of a high degree of skills and knowledge, which help to overcome barriers and setbacks.


Coefficient alpha was .67 for complexity and.78 for job control (Frese et al., 1996). In Frese, Teng, and Wijnin (1999), coefficient alpha for the complex­ ity and control subscales combined was .81.


The combined measure of job control and complexity correlated positively with employee aspirations, proactivity, and self-efficacy (Frese et al., 1999). Control at work correlated positively with work complexity, self-efficacy, willingness of employee to take an active approach, and tendency of employees to overcome barriers (Frese et al., 1996).


Frese, M., Kring, W., Soose, A., & Zempel, J. (1996). Personal initiative at work: Differences between East and West Germany. Academy of Manage­ ment Journal, 39(1), 37-64. © 1996 by Academy of Management. Items were taken from the appendix, p. 64. Reproduced with permission of Acad­emy of Management in the format textbook via Copyright Clearance Center.


Responses are obtained using a 5-point Likert-type scale. The anchors vary among items. The end-point anchors are provided with each item. An exam­ple response scale is 1 = very little, 2 = rather little, 3 = somewhat, 4 = rather much, and 5 = very much.

Complexity of work items:

  1. Do you receive tasks that are extraordinary and particularly difficult? (End-point anchors are 1 = never, 5 = several times a week)
  2. A must make very complicated decisions in his/her work; B only has to make very simple (End-point anchors are 1 = exactly like A, 5 = exactly like B)
  3. Can you use all your knowledge and skills in your work? (End-point anchors are 1 = very little, 5 = very much)
  1. Can you learn new things in your work? (End-point anchors are 1 = very little, 5 = very much)

Control at work items:

(End-point anchors for all these items are 1 = very little, 5 = very much)

  1. If you look at your job as a whole: how many decisions does it allow you to make?
  2. Can you determine how you do your work?
  3. Can you plan and arrange your work on your own (e.g., calculate which material/ tools you need)?
  4. How much can you participate in decisions of your superior (e.g., the superior asks you for your opinion and asks for suggestions)?

This content is licensed under a CC-BY license. The CC-BY licenses grant rights of use the scales in your studies (the measurement instrument and its documentation), but do not replace copyright. This remains with the copyright holder, and you have to cite us as the source.

Mohammed Looti, PSYCHOLOGICAL SCALES (2023) Control and Complexity scale. Retrieved from DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.31575.96163