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Common Method Variance in IS Research: A Comparison of Alternative Approaches and a Reanalysis of Past Research


  • Naresh K. Malhotra

    () (College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology, 800 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30332)

  • Sung S. Kim

    () (School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 975 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706)

  • Ashutosh Patil

    () (College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology, 800 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30332)


Despite recurring concerns about common method variance (CMV) in survey research, the information systems (IS) community remains largely uncertain of the extent of such potential biases. To address this uncertainty, this paper attempts to systematically examine the impact of CMV on the inferences drawn from survey research in the IS area. First, we describe the available approaches for assessing CMV and conduct an empirical study to compare them. From an actual survey involving 227 respondents, we find that although CMV is present in the research areas examined, such biases are not substantial. The results also suggest that few differences exist between the relatively new marker-variable technique and other well-established conventional tools in terms of their ability to detect CMV. Accordingly, the marker-variable technique was employed to infer the effect of CMV on correlations from previously published studies. Our findings, based on the reanalysis of 216 correlations, suggest that the inflated correlation caused by CMV may be expected to be on the order of 0.10 or less, and most of the originally significant correlations remain significant even after controlling for CMV. Finally, by extending the marker-variable technique, we examined the effect of CMV on structural relationships in past literature. Our reanalysis reveals that contrary to the concerns of some skeptics, CMV-adjusted structural relationships not only remain largely significant but also are not statistically differentiable from uncorrected estimates. In summary, this comprehensive and systematic analysis offers initial evidence that (1) the marker-variable technique can serve as a convenient, yet effective, tool for accounting for CMV, and (2) common method biases in the IS domain are not as serious as those found in other disciplines.

Suggested Citation

  • Naresh K. Malhotra & Sung S. Kim & Ashutosh Patil, 2006. "Common Method Variance in IS Research: A Comparison of Alternative Approaches and a Reanalysis of Past Research," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(12), pages 1865-1883, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:52:y:2006:i:12:p:1865-1883

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Williams, Larry J. & Brown, Barbara K., 1994. "Method Variance in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Research: Effects on Correlations, Path Coefficients, and Hypothesis Testing," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 185-209, February.
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    6. Cote, Joseph A & Buckley, M Ronald, 1988. " Measurement Error and Theory Testing in Consumer Research: An Illustration of the Importance of Construct Validation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 579-582, March.
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