Formative Versus Reflective Measurement for Multidimensional Constructs

24 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2012 Last revised: 5 Dec 2012

See all articles by Pavlos A. Vlachos

Pavlos A. Vlachos

ALBA Graduate Business School,The American College of Greece

Aristeidis Theotokis

Leeds University Business School; Athens University of Economics and Business, Department of Management Science and Technology

Date Written: December 9, 2009

Abstract

Information systems researchers often conceptualize constructs as higher-order multidimensional entities. As is the case with the specification of first-order dimensions, researchers seem to have two basic choices regarding measurement specification at the second-order level: to operationalize second-order factors as either formative (molar) or reflective (molecular). Although several researchers have noted the importance of measurement misspecification when testing measurement models for first-order constructs, limited research has investigated the consequences of measurement misspecification at the second-order level. In this article we empirically investigate whether different measurement specifications at the second-order level can lead to different inferences. Exploiting data from an empirical study investigating the notion of electronic service quality, we test the multidimensionality of the construct, using two different measurement specifications: the formative model which assumes molar relationships and the reflective model which assumes molecular relationships. We find that there is poor convergence between the two models in terms of resulting conclusions, highlighting the need for more careful measurement specification of IS constructs at a higher-order hierarchical measurement level. Furthermore, it seems that the choice of analytical methodology (i.e., PLS versus Covariance-based SEM) is also likely to influence results. We end up with implications for research regarding higher-order constructs measurement.

Keywords: Formative Constructs, Reflective Constructs, Second-Order Models, Covariance-Based SEM, Components-Based SEM, Electronic Service Quality, Mobile Music Services

Suggested Citation

Vlachos, Pavlos A. and Theotokis, Aristeidis, Formative Versus Reflective Measurement for Multidimensional Constructs (December 9, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1521095 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1521095

Pavlos A. Vlachos (Contact Author)

ALBA Graduate Business School,The American College of Greece ( email )

6-8, Xenias str., Ampelokipoi
Athens, 115 28
Greece

HOME PAGE: http://www.alba.acg.edu

Aristeidis Theotokis

Leeds University Business School ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Athens University of Economics and Business, Department of Management Science and Technology ( email )

76 Patission Street
Athens, 104 34
Greece

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