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International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences, 2(10) October 2013, Pages: 780-785

TI Journals

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences

ISSN
2306-7276

www.tijournals.com

Different Methods for Measurement in


Advanced Management Sciences
Salmasi Fatemeh
Department of Management, East Azarbaijan Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran.
AR TIC LE INF O

AB STR AC T

Keywords:

Currently, there is an over-reliance on a narrow set of methods of measuring cognitive, affective,


motivational, attitudinal and individual difference constructs that are often of interest in behavioral
management research. The authors argue that there is a need to expand the scope of the
measurement methods commonly employed by management researchers and that a greater
diversity of measurement methods would benefit the field by contributing to theory development
and the pursuit of new areas of research. The goals of this review are twofold: (1) to increase
awareness among management researchers of the alternative measurement methods that can
capture many of the cognitive, affective, motivational, attitudinal and individual difference
constructs of interest; (2) to critically evaluate how these methods can and should be used, with a
focus on both the strengths and limitations of each method. This review focuses on three classes of
measures: physiological and biological measures; experience-sampling measures; and implicit
measures. These measures have had a tremendous impact on the research and theories of other
fields such as marketing and economics, despite still being in their infancy. The authors believe
that these three classes of measures have the potential to impact the nature and scope of
management research and theory as well.

Different methods
Measurement
Management sciences

2013 Int. j. econ. manag. soc. sci. All rights reserved for TI Journals.

1.

Introduction

The creation of scientific knowledge in the management sciences, as in any field of scientific inquiry, comes from a variety of philosophical
perspectives and traditions. Despite these differences in perspectives and traditions, many areas of the management sciences increasingly
share a commonality in their use of behavioral research methods (e.g. surveys, observations) and empiricism as a basis for creating
scientific knowledge. For example, organizational behavior research has used these methods since its inception, while operations
management research has come increasingly to rely on them over time (Filippini 1997; Meredith etal. 1989). At the core of empiricism and
behavioral research in any area of the management sciences is measurement. From an empiricist perspective, researchers must be able to
observe and describe the phenomena they study in order to understand, predict and change them. This is achieved through measurement. In
the most basic sense, measurement is a system for conceptualizing, observing and describing the quality and quantity of the phenomena that
we study (Klimoski and Zukin 2003). These systems are closely tied to the development and advancement of theories (Judd and
McClelland 1998) and the practical utilization of research findings (Aguinis etal. 2002). Behavioral theories and research in the
management sciences have little scientific or practical value without a solid measurement foundation (Aguinis etal. 2002).
Despite the widely acknowledged importance of measurement for the progress of the management sciences, measurement issues have
received less attention than they deserve (Hinkin 1995; Scandura and Williams 2000; Scherbaum and Meade 2009; Schriesheim etal.
1993). Moreover, things appear to have become worse, rather than better, over time. Scandura and Williams (2000) present evidence that
attention to measurement actually decreased from the 1980s to the 1990s. We do not believe that the trend has reversed itself. The potential
consequence is that management theories and research may have limited interpretability (Schriesheim etal. 1993) and value (Aguinis etal.
2002).
We contend that the current state of measurement practices in behavioral management research is, in part, a result of an over-reliance on a
limited set of measurement methods. For example, researchers have relied heavily on self- and other-reported rating scales to the exclusion
of other methods. The heavy reliance on a narrow set of methods is understandable from many perspectives. There are well-developed best
practices (e.g. Farh etal. 2006; Hinkin 1998), and most researchers are formally trained in their use. Moreover, measurement methods such
as rating scales can be used to capture many of the constructs that are often part of behavioral management research. Although these
methods are clearly useful and have served the management sciences well, they are not without limitations (e.g. limits of introspection;
Nisbett and Wilson 1977) and are not appropriate for all research questions. Thus, there is a need to expand the scope of the measurement
methods that are commonly employed in behavioral management research in order to develop more complete management theories and
* Corresponding author.
Email address: fatmehsalmasi@yahoo.com

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Internat ional Jour nal of Economy, Mana ge ment and Social Sciences , 2(10) October 2013

research as well as generate novel insights into the phenomena that we study. As Qui etal. (2012) argue, research methodology can be an
avenue for expanding paradigms and theories in the management sciences.
Fortunately, the past thirty years have brought substantial developments and refinements in measurement theory, technology and methods.
For example, management researchers now have the ability to assess implicit attitudes, individual differences in activity in the brain, and
momentary cognitive and affective processes. However, we argue that management researchers have not fully taken advantage of the wide
range of measurement methods available to them. We believe that, in part, the lack of use is due to the over-reliance on a small set of
methods and unfamiliarity with other methods. Staying current with these developments is a constant challenge that all researchers face and
is difficult because advances often come from other fields (e.g. sociology, marketing, economics, neurosciences, psychology). Despite
efforts to help management researchers to monitor these developments (e.g. Academy of Management's Organizational Research Methods;
European Survey Research Association's Survey Research Methods; European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and
Management Studies), many relevant alternative measurement methods are considerably underused, but would add value to management
research.
The goals of this review are twofold: (1) to increase awareness among management researchers about additional measurement methods that
have the potential to enhance management research; (2) to critically evaluate how these methods can and should be used, with a focus on
both the strengths and limitations of each method as well as the ethical implications. Our hope is that increasing awareness of these
methods as well as their strengths, limitations and ethical implications will inspire management researchers to learn more about these
methods and use them appropriately to further their research and theory. An expanded set of measurement methods allows researchers to
examine their phenomena in novel ways and generate new insights that improve theory and contribute to understanding of the complex
dynamic systems at the heart of the management sciences. As several scholars in the philosophy of science have argued (e.g. Kuhn 1970;
Qui etal. 2012), research methodology can be a basis for expanding paradigms and theories in a scientific discipline. A recent survey of
influential scholars in the management sciences points to the same conclusion (Aguinis et al. 2009).
This review focuses on three classes of measurement methods: physiological and biological measures; experience-sampling measures; and
implicit measures. These classes of measures were selected for three reasons: (1) they can be used to assess types of constructs that are
often studied in behavioral management research; (2) they are not frequently used in behavioral management research, and knowledge
about their use is not widespread; (3) they have been used with great success in adjacent areas of business research, including the decision
sciences, marketing and economics. While there are many potential underused measures that we might have chosen, we gave particular
weight to these methods because they have made a notable impact in other areas of business research (e.g. Camerer 2006; Camerer etal.
2005; Dimofte 2010; Fehr and Rangel 2011; Kenning etal. 2007). Similarly, we believe that these three classes of methods have potential
to impact management research in the short and long term and hence our selection of them for this review. We encourage researchers to
review detailed treatments (e.g. Buchanan and Bryman 2009) of the methods not covered in this review. Despite the potential for behavioral
management research, the use of the methods reviewed here does carry some risk and requires an appreciation of their strengths and
limitations as well as the ethical concerns, as we describe. In conducting this review, our sources included both primary research studies
and target reviews on specific methods from the neurosciences, economics, management, psychology, organizational behavior, marketing
and operations research appearing in academic journals based in Europe, Asia and the US. Our sources were identified through search of
the electronic databases (including searches based on the topics and names of leading researchers in specific area), manual searches of
publications focusing on review articles (e.g. International Journal of Management Reviews, European Management Review, Annual
Review of Psychology), handbooks and annals focused on the research methods or the specific methods reviewed here (e.g. Handbook of
Organizational Research Methods, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences), and manual searches of the references in all the sources
that we identified.

2.

Current measurement practices in behavioral management research

The importance of measurement is generally recognized in behavioral management research. It also provides the basis for relevant,
consistent and accurate information on which decisions can be based (Aguinis etal. 2002) and empirical tests of theoretical hypotheses can
be executed (Judd and McClelland 1998). These aspects of measurement are particularly important in the management sciences because the
variables of interest are often latent constructs (e.g. leadership, motivation, customer satisfaction, decision-making processes, employee
attitudes) that are only indirectly observable and can exist at multiple levels of analysis.

3.

Alternative measurement methods for behavioral management research

We believe that management theory and research would benefit from a greater diversity of measurement methods. A wider range of
measurement methods opens the possibility for new insights, research and theory. In this review, we consider physiological and biological
measures, experience-sampling measures, and implicit measures, and provide guidance on how and when these measures should be used.
As previously noted, these measurement methods were selected for a number of reasons, including their ability to assess constructs in
which many management researchers are interested and their minimal use in management research. Most importantly, these methods have
demonstrated a tremendous impact on adjacent business fields such as economics and marketing.

Salmasi Fatemeh

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Int ernational Journal of Economy, Mana ge ment and Soci al Sci ences , 2(10) October 2013

4.

Physiological-and biological-base measurement

Of all the measurement methods used in management research, physiological- and biological-based measurements are currently generating
the most excitement (Akinola 2010; Becker etal. 2011; Lee and Chamberlain 2007; Senior etal. 2011). Management research using these
techniques has been given a number of labels, including organizational neuroscience (Becker and Cropanzano 2010; Becker etal. 2011;
Butler and Senior 2007) and organizational cognitive neuroscience (Senior etal. 2011). Under this umbrella, there are many different
techniques that can be employed, ranging from cardiovascular reactivity to brain imaging.

5.

Cardiovascular activity

A number of measures capture various aspects of changes in the cardiovascular system. As a set, these measures are often referred to as
cardiovascular reactivity. These measures include indicators of heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and cardiac output (Akinola 2010).
The specific tools or devices used to capture these measures are similar to what one would experience in a physician's office for monitoring
heart rate and blood pressure, and most of the technology is relatively non-invasive. These methods are not new, and many management
researchers have some exposure to these methods. Compared with other biological and physiological measures, cardiovascular measures
are well developed, and professional guidelines for their use in research are available (e.g. Berntson etal. 1997; Shapiro etal. 1996).

6.

Brain activity

An electroencephalograph (EEG) is a non-invasive device that detects and records electrical activity resulting from the electrical current
within neurons in the brain. An EEG requires electrodes to be attached to the scalp, and neural activity is captured over a short period of
time. An EEG provides an indication of the occurrence and duration of activity in the brain, but not the specific structural location in the
brain where that activity is located. There are many specific indicators derived from EEGs including evoked potentials, event-related
potentials and coherence. Evoked potentials and event-related potentials link EEG activity to the presentation of simple stimuli or the
processing of complex stimuli. Coherence reflects the coordinated activity of different areas of the brain in response to complex stimuli.

7.

Brain imaging

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a special type of MRI that captures not only the image of structures of the brain, but also
the functioning of those structures (MRI only captures an image of the structure). Functional MRI scans the brain for fluctuations in
magnetic fields resulting from changes in blood flow to map the location of neural activity in the brain and spinal cord. Many management
researchers have probably seen images from an fMRI where an image of a brain changes color to reflect activity occurring in different areas
in the brain. In contrast to the EEG, fMRI provides the structural location in the brain where activity occurs, but is less precise about the
timing or duration of the activity. Functional MRI conducts scans of the brain while an individual lies motionless inside an fMRI machine
for anywhere between fifteen minutes and one hour. While inside the machine, individuals engage in cognitive or affective process as well
as perceive and react to a variety of stimuli.

8.

Ethical considerations with physiological- and biological-based measurement

There are a number of unique ethical considerations and considerations related to responsible conduct of research with human participants
that arise with physiological- and biological-based measures (Shaw etal. 2008). In fact, an entire area of inquiry called neuroethics has
developed to examine the many ethical issues involved in research using these measures as well as the use of the research findings (Bird
2005; Illes and Bird 2006). Considering the rapid rate at which this measurement technology is advancing and these research findings are
being applied, many have argued that serious attention to neuroethics is imperative (Fischbach and Fischbach 2008), especially in the
management science (Senior etal. 2008). Despite the need for clear and unified principles to guide research using these methods, there is
widespread disagreement about the appropriate ethical standards and guidelines (see the American Journal of Bioethics 2008 issue on
neuroethics for a range of viewpoints). Given that research ethics in management research have received less attention generally (e.g. Bell
and Bryman 2007); the use of physiological- and biological-based measures in management research poses an acute need for some basic
ethical principles.

9.

Summary

Physiological and biological measures are not the traditional domain of management researchers. Although many of these techniques have
been around for some time, only recently have there been sustained calls for their use in management research (e.g. Akinola 2010; Becker
and Cropanzano; 2010; Becker etal. 2011; Senior etal. 2011). The feasibility of conducting this type of research has never been greater for
management researchers, given the increased accessibility of the expertise, tools, machines and technology (Becker etal. 2011). The choice
of a specific measure should be based on the variables of interest, but probably will also be driven by availability, cost and expertise. For
example, EEGs may be more feasible than fMRIs for management researchers, given their greater availability, lower cost and greater
number of experts in their use. Therefore, a caution with any of these measures is to ensure that the research question is driving the
selection of a particular method, as opposed to the availability of a method driving the question.

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10. Experience-sampling measurement


Traditional measures in behavioral management research tend to capture summative evaluations or reports of behavior, experiences,
affective states, moods or reactions. However, many theories and research questions focus on momentary or transient experiences, affective
states, moods, reactions or behavior. Traditional summative methods cannot capture these momentary experiences or behavior particularly
well. Research is increasingly drawing on measurement methods that capture these experiences, affective states, moods or reactions on a
momentary basis or in a narrow timeframe (e.g. daily). This measurement method is often referred to as event-sampling or experiencesampling (Larson and Csikszentmihalyi 1983). The variables of interest with this method are typically transient states, not stable
characteristics or traits.

11. Implicit measurement


Much of behavioral management research uses self-report measures such as surveys, interviews and tests. Such measures can be said to
measure explicit social cognitions (Greenwald and Banaji 1995), which are conscious. While parts of the process occur without conscious
awareness, any response from the participant is ultimately the result of a conscious decision to provide a given response to a question or
item.

12. Implicit Association Test


The past decade has seen an enormous increase in interest in measurement approaches that do not require conscious and deliberate
responding, with the Implicit Association Test (IAT) at the forefront of this movement (Fazio and Olson 2003). The IAT was developed by
social psychologists initially as a method of assessing attitudes that are prone to excessive social desirability. For example, much of the
early IAT work focused on implicit attitudes regarding stereotypes of race and gender (e.g. Fazio etal. 1995; Rudman and Glick 2001). As
one indication of the popularity of the IAT, there have been nearly 900 studies employing implicit measures as of 2011 (Rudman 2011).

13. Conditional reasoning tests


In contrast to IATs, conditional reasoning tests (CRTs) were developed as non-obvious measures of stable personality-based traits, rather
than attitudes, and were intended for organizational use from the outset. Thus, they can be more accurately described as indirect measures
rather than implicit measures, as the constructs purportedly assessed are akin to those assessed by explicit measures. Currently, there are
two CRTs reported in published organizational and management research: aggressive tendencies (CRT-A; James etal. 2005) and
achievement motivation (CRT-AM; James 1998).

14. Conclusion
There have been many new developments and advances in measurement methods over the past three decades. However, application of
these methods to management research lags substantially behind these advances and continues to rely largely on a limited set of
measurement methods. This situation is unfortunate, as theory testing and refinement are limited by the quality and sophistication of the
measures employed to operationalize the substantive relationships in a field's theories (Judd and McClelland 1998). Several adjacent
business fields such as marketing and economics have already embraced these methods and used them with great success.
We believe the reason for this over-reliance on small set of methods is primarily convenience and training. Management researchers
typically receive no training on biological and physiological measurement techniques and are only now receiving training on implicit
measures and experience-sampling. Certainly, there are costs with respect to acquiring and becoming proficient with the necessary
equipment and procedures with some of these methods (e.g. EEG, fMRI). Conversely, some implicit methods (e.g. IAT) and experience
sampling technology can be acquired free or for little cost.
To be sure, the common methods such as rating scales are difficult to match in terms of ease of administration and participant involvement.
The time and effort for both researchers and participants required to use the methods reviewed are much greater than that of rating scales.
Some of the concerns often expressed about the typical methods (e.g. selection bias, small sample sizes or participant attrition) could be
exacerbated in some instances using the alternative methods (e.g. only certain types of individuals may be willing to have an EEG attached
to them). These potential limitations are not trivial. They need to be carefully weighted in combination with the other limitations that we
have reviewed when considering these methods.

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Int ernational Journal of Economy, Mana ge ment and Soci al Sci ences , 2(10) October 2013

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