A Novel Instrument to Measure the Multidimensional Structure of Professional Agency

  • Katja Vähäsantanen
  • Eija Räikkönen
  • Susanna Paloniemi
  • Päivi Hökkä
  • Anneli Eteläpelto
Original Paper


This study aimed to construct and validate a quantitative measurement instrument to determine the structure of professional agency in working life. Empirical data (N = 589) were collected via a web-based, theoretically informed questionnaire, within the professional domains of education, healthcare, rescue services, and information technology. The questionnaire items incorporated theoretically based dimensions of professional agency. The structure of professional agency was initially analysed via exploratory factor analysis. Thereafter, using exploratory structural equation modelling, the structure of professional agency was investigated with a view to confirmation and validation. The results indicated that the structure of professional agency included three dimensions: Influencing at Work, Developing Work Practices, and Negotiating Professional Identity. These dimensions appeared to be separate from but closely linked to other work-related constructs, notably Learning at Work and Emotionally Meaningful Work. The study enriches current theory on professional agency by shedding light on its multidimensional structure. In presenting an instrument for measuring professional agency, the study can benefit scholars and work organisations with an interest in researching and fostering professional agency in various work and educational contexts.


Professional agency Learning at work Professional identity Measurement 



This work was supported by the Academy of Finland under Grant number 288925 [The Role of Emotions in Agentic Learning at Work]. The original items and instructions in Finnish are available from the first author on request. We wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions that greatly improved the article. Our warm thanks go also to Donald Adamson for polishing the language of the article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Faculty of Education and PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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