IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Formative versus reflective measurement models: Two applications of formative measurement


  • Coltman, Tim
  • Devinney, Timothy M.
  • Midgley, David F.
  • Venaik, Sunil


This paper presents a framework that helps researchers to design and validate both formative and reflective measurement models. The framework draws from the existing literature and includes both theoretical and empirical considerations. Two important examples, one from international business and one from marketing, illustrate the use of the framework. Both examples concern constructs that are fundamental to theory-building in these disciplines, and constructs that most scholars measure reflectively. In contrast, applying the framework suggests that a formative measurement model may be more appropriate. These results reinforce the need for all researchers to justify, both theoretically and empirically, their choice of measurement model. Use of an incorrect measurement model undermines the content validity of constructs, misrepresents the structural relationships between them, and ultimately lowers the usefulness of management theories for business researchers and practitioners. The main contribution of this paper is to question the unthinking assumption of reflective measurement seen in much of the business literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Coltman, Tim & Devinney, Timothy M. & Midgley, David F. & Venaik, Sunil, 2008. "Formative versus reflective measurement models: Two applications of formative measurement," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(12), pages 1250-1262, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:61:y:2008:i:12:p:1250-1262

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Langerak, Fred, 2003. "An Appraisal of Research on the Predictive Power of Market Orientation," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 447-464, August.
    2. Lee Cronbach, 1951. "Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 16(3), pages 297-334, September.
    3. Jarvis, Cheryl Burke & MacKenzie, Scott B & Podsakoff, Philip M, 2003. "A Critical Review of Construct Indicators and Measurement Model Misspecification in Marketing and Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(2), pages 199-218, September.
    4. Christopher L. Shook & David J. Ketchen & G. Tomas M. Hult & K. Michele Kacmar, 2004. "An assessment of the use of structural equation modeling in strategic management research," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(4), pages 397-404, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Immacolata Di Napoli & Pasquale Dolce & Caterina Arcidiacono, 2019. "Community Trust: A Social Indicator Related to Community Engagement," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 145(2), pages 551-579, September.
    2. García, Juan A. & Gómez, Mar & Molina, Arturo, 2012. "A destination-branding model: An empirical analysis based on stakeholders," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 646-661.
    3. Rafael R. Ramírez & Leanne Seeliger & Filippo Di Pietro, 2016. "Price, Virtues, Principles: How to Discern What Inspires Best Practices in Water Management? A Case Study about Small Farmers in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-16, April.
    4. Sajtos, Laszlo & Magyar, Bertalan, 2016. "Auxiliary theories as translation mechanisms for measurement model specification," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 3186-3191.
    5. Francesco Giacobbe & Zoltan Matolcsy & James Wakefield & Tom Smith, 2016. "An investigation of wholly-owned foreign subsidiary control through transaction cost economics theory," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(4), pages 1041-1070, December.
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:385:d:68488 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Salim Moussa, 2016. "A two-step item response theory procedure for a better measurement of marketing constructs," Journal of Marketing Analytics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(1), pages 28-50, March.
    8. Ohiomah, Alhassan & Andreev, Pavel & Benyoucef, Morad & Hood, David, 2019. "The role of lead management systems in inside sales performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 163-177.
    9. Leibao Zhang & Liming Sheng & Wenyu Zhang & Shuai Zhang, 2020. "Do Personal Norms Predict Citizens’ Acceptance of Green Transport Policies in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(12), pages 1-16, June.
    10. Nitzl, Christian, 2016. "The use of partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) in management accounting research: Directions for future theory development," Journal of Accounting Literature, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 19-35.
    11. Eggers, Fabian & Niemand, Thomas & Kraus, Sascha & Breier, Matthias, 2020. "Developing a scale for entrepreneurial marketing: Revealing its inner frame and prediction of performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 72-82.
    12. Mütterlein, Joschka & Kunz, Reinhard E. & Baier, Daniel, 2019. "Effects of lead-usership on the acceptance of media innovations: A mobile augmented reality case," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 113-124.
    13. Matheus Pereira Libório & Oseias da Silva Martinuci & Sandro Laudares & Renata de Mello Lyrio & Alexei Manso Correa Machado & Patrícia Bernardes & Petr Ekel, 2020. "Measuring Intra-Urban Inequality with Structural Equation Modeling: A Theory-Grounded Indicator," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(20), pages 1-18, October.
    14. Markus Eckey & Utz Schäffer, 2006. "Kontrolle von Mehrheitsbeteiligungen in börsennotierten Management-Holdings," Metrika: International Journal for Theoretical and Applied Statistics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 251-280, November.
    15. Dina Maria Amaro & Alzira Maria Ascensão Marques & Helena Alves, 2019. "The impact of choice factors on international students’ loyalty mediated by satisfaction," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 16(2), pages 211-233, December.
    16. Guillard, Valérie, 2009. "La tendance de certains consommateurs à tout garder," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/5480 edited by Pinson, Christian, July.
    17. Tania Bucic & Liem Viet Ngo & Ashish Sinha, 2017. "Improving the effectiveness of market-oriented organisation: Empirical evidence from an emerging economy," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 42(2), pages 308-327, May.
    18. Wamba, Samuel Fosso & Dubey, Rameshwar & Gunasekaran, Angappa & Akter, Shahriar, 2020. "The performance effects of big data analytics and supply chain ambidexterity: The moderating effect of environmental dynamism," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 222(C).
    19. Francisco Liébana-Cabanillas & Nidhi Singh & Zoran Kalinic & Elena Carvajal-Trujillo, 2021. "Examining the determinants of continuance intention to use and the moderating effect of the gender and age of users of NFC mobile payments: a multi-analytical approach," Information Technology and Management, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 133-161, June.
    20. Yoon, Junghyun & Lee, Hee Yong & Dinwoodie, John, 2015. "Competitiveness of container terminal operating companies in South Korea and the industry–university–government network," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 1-14.
    21. Philippe Cohard, 2020. "Information Systems Values: A Study of the Intranet in Three French Higher Education Institutions," Post-Print hal-02987225, HAL.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:61:y:2008:i:12:p:1250-1262. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.