Reflective and Formative Measurement Models

From time to time, I present insightful methodological articles on this blog. Today’s post is dedicated to an article by Edwards (2011): The fallacy of formative measurement (ORM, Vol. 14, No. 2). The article critically compares reflective and formative measurement, i.e., two optional directions of the relationship between constructs and measures in empirical research. Reflective measurement treats “constructs as causes of measures, such that measures are reflective manifestations of underlying constructs”, whereas formative measurement specifies “measures as causes of constructs, such that measures form or induce an underlying latent variable”. The article “compares reflective and formative measurement on the basis of dimensionality, internal consistency, identification, measurement error, construct validity, and causality”. It turns out that Edwards takes a negative stance towards formative measurement. Particularly, Edwards argues that “formative measurement is not a viable alternative to reflective measurement”. Edwards’s article was among the best paper winners of Organizational Research Methods in 2011.

Edwards, J.R. (2011). The Fallacy of Formative Measurement. Organizational Research Methods, 14 (2), 370-388 DOI: 10.1177/1094428110378369

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About Andreas Wieland

Dr. Andreas Wieland is an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Risk Management at the Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School. His current research interests include resilient and socially responsible supply chains.

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