Formative measurement has seen increasing acceptance in organizational research since the turn of the 21st Century. However, in more recent times, a number of criticisms of the formative approach have appeared. Such work argues that formatively-measured constructs are empirically ambiguous and thus flawed in a theory-testing context. The aim of the present paper is to examine the underpinnings of formative measurement theory in light of theories of causality and ontology in measurement in general. In doing so, a thesis is advanced which draws a distinction between reflective, formative, and causal theories of latent variables. This distinction is shown to be advantageous in that it clarifies the ontological status of each type of latent variable, and thus provides advice on appropriate conceptualization and application. The distinction also reconciles in part both recent supportive and critical perspectives on formative measurement. In light of this, advice is given on how most appropriately to model formative composites in theory-testing applications, placing the onus on the researcher to make clear their conceptualization and operationalisation.
|Place of Publication||Birmingham|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2010|
- formative measurement
- research methods