Organizational Constraints Scale

Organizational constraints are situations or things that interfere with task performance at work. The Organizational Constraints Scale or OCS was based on the work of Peters and O’Connor (1980), who listed 8 areas of constraints, e.g., faulty equipment, or incomplete information. One item assesses each of 11 (expanded from the original 8) constraint areas, and all items are summed into a total score. Respondents are asked to indicate how often it is difficult or impossible to do his or her job because of each item.

The OCS is often used with the Interpersonal Conflict At Work Scale, the Quantitative Workload Inventory, and the Physical Symptoms Inventory, so some information about these scales is found in the same document.


Response choices range from less than once per month or never, coded 1, to several times per day, coded 5. High scores represent high levels of constraints, with a possible range of scores from 11 to 55.

Although the OCS yields a total score, the individual items are not considered parallel forms of the same underlying construct. Rather we view this scale as a causal indicator scale (Bollen & Lennox, 1991), rather than the traditional effect indicator scale. With the latter, items are said to be replicates of one another, and in structural equation modeling terms, responses are the effects of the underlying construct. A causal indicator scale consists of items which are not manifestations of the same underlying construct, but which combined constitute the construct, i.e., the items cause the construct. Thus coefficient alpha is not an appropriate index of reliability for such scales. For example, we would not say that having poor equipment is equivalent to having inadequate training. However, having both represents a higher level of constraints than only having one. (We discuss this at further length in Spector & Jex, 1998).


Bollen, K., & Lennox, R. (1991). Conventional wisdom on measurement: A structural equation perspective. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 305-314.

Peters, L. H., & O’Connor, E. J. (1980). Situational constraints and work outcomes: the influences of a frequently overlooked construct. Academy of Management Review, 5, 391-397.

Spector, P. E., & Jex, S. M. (1998). Development of Four Self-Report Measures of Job Stressors and Strain: Interpersonal Conflict at Work Scale, Organizational Constraints Scale, Quantitative Workload Inventory, and Physical Symptoms Inventory. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 3, 356-367.

OCS bibliography

OCS norms

Conditions for Using the OCS

OCS English version.

Translations of the OCS

Note: The OCS can be used free of charge for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The stressor scales are copyright © 1997, Paul E. Spector and Steve M. Jex, All rights reserved.