ECS 2013 - Questionnaire

A high quality questionnaire is a key element of a successful survey. Eurofound invests considerably in the development of its questionnaires.

Questionnaire development

The questionnaire underwent detailed preparation in-house. It was based on two background papers, which prepared the conceptual framework. The first paper looked at work organisation and employee involvement while the second paper reflected on workplace social dialogue as driver of direct participation.

The questionnaire was developed in close collaboration with a questionnaire development group consisting of experts from the European Union who were involved with surveys in their respective countries or in a European-wide research project, e.g. MEADOW, as well as representatives from international organisations and the tripartite governing board of Eurofound. The process included an advance translation from English into German and French to help finalise the source questionnaire and a pre-test in three countries.


The objective of the pre-test was to ensure that the survey questions were understood by respondents as intended and to verify that the terminology used in the source questionnaires was suitable for a cross-national survey. Interviews were conducted with both Management and Employee representative respondents in Ireland, France and Germany, firstly carrying out cognitive interviews for a selection of questions, followed by structured interviews of the entire questionnaire. Based on the results of the pre-testing the final version of the survey questionnaire was compiled.

A copy of the pre-test report can be obtained on request to


A vital element to ensure the success of a pan-European survey is the quality and comparability of the language versions used in each country. In the widest sense, translation aims to ensure the implementation of ‘equivalent’ instruments, in different lingual, cultural and institutional settings. The extensive translation procedure applied by Eurofound and its contractor reflects the importance of high quality translations.

The quest for equivalence starts at the questionnaire development stage, in which advance translation at the questionnaire development stage can already contribute to a more ‘translatable’ source questionnaire. It continues in the translation stage through procedures – such as using multiple translators with varying skills sets and providing them with extensive information and task specification, following from an explicit strategy. Finally, in the validation or assessment stage, committee assessments in an open environment have been argued to contribute to instrument equivalence, more so than the use of ‘back translation’ which was common practice in many multi-lingual surveys in the past.

For the third ECS, translation of the source questionnaire comprised several steps:

  • prior to the pre-test the English draft questionnaire was translated into French and German with the aim of detecting difficulties when translating from English into other languages
  • centralised, web-based translation system for authorisation and documentation
  • two independent translations for each target language
  • team-based interactive review meetings composed of translators and an adjudicator
  • verification layer by Eurofound, where possible
  • for languages that were used in multiple countries, multiple translations were created which were than cross-verified to produce final translations local for each country
  • questions which had been used in previous rounds of the ECS were reviewed
  • translations were copy edited and checked before being finalised

The 3rd ECS questionnaire was translated into thirty-one languages including the key minority languages of the surveyed countries. Eight of the languages were used in more than one country and adapted to the cultural context when necessary.

All language versions and the English language source questionnaires for the Management interview and the Employee Representative interview are available for download as well as a report on the translation process.