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The fallacy of formative measurement

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Organizational Research Methods
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)370-388
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In management research, there is a growing trend toward formative measurement, in which measures are treated as causes of constructs. Formative measurement can be contrasted with reflective measurement, in which constructs are specified as causes of measures. Although recent work seems to suggest that formative measurement is a viable alternative to reflective measurement, the emerging enthusiasm for formative measurement is based on conceptions of constructs, measures, and causality that are difficult to defend. This article critically compares reflective and formative measurement on the basis of dimensionality, internal consistency, identification, measurement error, construct validity, and causality. This comparison leads to the conclusion that the presumed viability of formative measurement is a fallacy, and the objectives of formative measurement can be achieved using alternative models with reflective measures.