On a distinction between casual and formative variable models: theoretical issues and practical implications for organizational researchers

Nick J. Lee

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham
PublisherAston University
VolumeRP1001
ISBN (Print)978-1-85449765-9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Keywords

  • formative measurement
  • research methods
  • causality
  • ontology
  • philosophy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'On a distinction between casual and formative variable models: theoretical issues and practical implications for organizational researchers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this