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Journal Article

Characteristics of Single‑Item Measures in Likert Scale Format  pp1-12

Aliosha Alexandrov

© Sep 2010 Volume 8 Issue 1, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 62

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Abstract

The use of single‑item measures has been encouraged by several authors asserting that single‑item measures are appropriate and can substitute multiple‑item measures in many cases. This study focuses on the characteristics of single‑item measures in Likert scale format. There are two motives behind it: first, the Likert scale has been called problematic and its usage discouraged by the very proponents of single‑item measures; and second, the reverse wording of Likert items has led to many problems with multiple‑item measures. Because the Likert scale is one of the most used scales in marketing and management, and more researchers may decide to use single‑item measures in Likert scale format, it becomes necessary to answer the question if it is usable or not. This research scrutinizes the characteristics of the Likert scale in a positive‑negative continuum: from positive to negative with different levels of intensities. Based on collected sample data for three popular computer brands, the main conclusion is that only positively worded Likert items with a fairly high level of intensity should be used as single‑item measures. The supporting empirical evidence includes: (1) positively and negatively worded items are not true opposites, (2) items with reversed scores inflate means, (3) items with neutral intensity have unique conceptual meaning, (4) dependent variables are predicted best by independent variables with similar intensity and (5) negatively worded items contain a method factor that limits their ability to capture the measured concept. The results also suggest that the effect of the method factor is expressed more when respondents are not familiar with the object of the measured concept. The findings in this study provide guidelines for the practical use of measures in Likert format. Scales in other formats should undergo similar scrutiny.

 

Keywords: single-item measures, Likert scale, negatively-worded items, reversed items, C-OAR-SE

 

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Journal Article

Deciding on the Scale Granularity of Response Categories of Likert type Scales: The Case of a 21‑Point Scale  pp159-171

Noel Pearse

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

This research investigates the use of a 21‑point Likert type scale in the design of a questionnaire that explores factors related to staff turnover and retention. The paper examines the notion of granularity in researcher‑defined fixed rating scales, where granularity refers to the number of response categories or cut off points that are imposed on a scale (Smithson 2006). The aim of this research paper is to examine the usefulness of a scale with high granularity, from the perspectives of respondents and the researcher. The questionnaire was administered among employees in three different public sector organisations in South Africa, to create a combined data set of 178 respondents. Informing the formulation of the hypotheses was Parducci’s (1965 cited in Tourangeau, Rips & Rasinski 2000) range‑frequency model, which assumes that respondents make use of the various response categories available with equal frequency, if they are evenly spaced. It was therefore hypothesised that (1) there are no significant differences in the frequency of use of the 21 response categories, implying that all of the response categories are useful to respondents; (2) that there would be no difference in the response pattern of respondents when different scale types and lengths are used, implying that increasing the scale granularity did not lead to redundancy; and (3) that there are no significant differences in the variation of responses with ongoing use of the scale. That is, if the scale was useful to respondents, they would continue to use a wide range of the response options available. Chi‑square tests were primarily used to test the hypotheses. It was concluded that the 21‑point scale was useful to respondents and by implication to researchers as well. This was evident in the spread of responses across the 21 response categories of the scale, and that even with prolonged use, they continued to utilise a wide range of response options. It was recommended that researchers should give more explicit attention to scale granularity when designing a questionnaire and that further research is required to assess the value of various levels of scale granularity.

 

Keywords: questionnaire design, scale construction, likert scale, scale granularity

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 8 Issue 1 / Sep 2010  pp1‑62

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

This Journal publishes papers that offer new insights into or practical help with the application of research methods applied to business organizations. The five papers in this issue offer the management researcher help and support with an eclectic mixture of topics relating to the application of existing tools and methods.

They are of an impressive quality testifying to the continuing intense interest in the research process as it is applied to business organizations. The wide range of topics demonstrates the current extraordinary dynamism in this subject as researchers grapple with the epistemological problems inherent in the various methodologies that are currently being applied to business research.

The paper by Alexandrov give an in depth analysis of existing measures, drawing on empirical work to support their recommendations. Alexandrov gives researchers an excellent assessment of the Likert scale‑ its strengths and weaknesses and a guide to how and when to use it. Interestingly the paper by Lawrence also addresses SME operations, this time with respect to the reasons for using or not using the Internet. This paper offers a detailed description of an empirical study using a grounded theory methodology which sought to explain the reasons for adoption or non adoption. The value for management researchers lies in the careful description of the empirical work and the evaluation of its quality using criteria established for interpretivist research. The fourth paper to draw on empirical work is that by Johl and Renganathan. This paper offers the researcher valuable insights into the effects of taking different approaches to obtaining access to case sites.

The paper by Berard critiques existing literature on the building and application of Systems Dynamics models. Of the two main approaches for developing such models by individual experts or by groups composed of both experts in the technique and individuals knowledgeable about the situation being modeled, she focuses on the group approach. Her critique of the literature establishes an excellent template for good practice. Any group setting out to build an SD model would be well advised to read this paper closely.

The paper by Green et al is theoretical and addresses a subject of key importance to all management researchers. The authors develop a fascinating argument as to the inconsistencies of the scientific method especially when applied to organizational research. They dispute the prevailing view that theory and methodology can be independent under any circumstances and would argue that theories are the creation of us the current community of researchers  As they propose an organizational truth produced by organizational science provides far more insight into what is persuasive to organizational scholars and their audiences, than it does into the features of organizations that scientists anthropomorphically deemed salient  As researchers of business organizations, we are all affected by the dominant community views more than we may like to accept.

Ann Brown
September, 2010

 

Keywords: case study, decision-making scenarios, ethnography, fieldwork, gaining access, gatekeepers, group model building, interpretive research, IS evaluation, Likert scale, marketing priority, methodological frameworks, mixed method, modelling process, negatively-worded items, performance measures, positivism, reversed items, rhetoric, semiotics theory, single-item measures, system dynamics, systematic analysis

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue / Sep 2011  pp87‑197

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

The subject of research methods in business is showing an extra‑ordinary level of activity and innovation and this conference (the 10th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management) reflected this. These papers dealt with the problems facing management researchers in a variety of ways. Many Papers offer help in applying new methods such as Mixed Methods and Design Science and introduce new ideas such the use of visual imagery as stimuli in research interviews. The final selection of papers was agreed by the senior editor of the Journal and the guest editors. The comments of session chairs were taken into account in making the final selection of papers for this issue of the EJBRM. The papers selected were chosen for their quality of writing, their relevance to the Journal’s objective of publishing papers that offer new insights or practical help in the application of research methods in business research and the degree of innovation in the subject matter.

The chosen Papers

Two papers constitute a useful introduction to mixed methods – one used case examples to illustrate the potential value of the method (Stefan Cronholm and Anders Hjalmarsson) and one assessed the challenges facing the researcher who opts for this approach.(Roslyn Cameron)

Design Science seems to be acquiring more supporters – particularly for research into Information technology. One paper explains the technique illustrating with a detailed description of an ongoing study (Carcary). The paper by Venables suggests that few research methods courses currently include this method.

The conference received a surprisingly large number of papers on the teaching of research methods and on Project Management. This issue includes three papers on teaching research methods. One addressed the issue of the expanding range of research methods available to business researchers and proposed a framework that would help teachers to introduce the full set of options (Venables). A growing trend is that of doctoral candidates coming forward from industry and the professions. Two papers offer some extremely valuable ideas on how supervisors can support the special needs of this group of doctoral candidates – One paper argues for choosing research methods that specifically exploits this experience for the empirical research work (Caroline Cole, Steven Chase, Oliver Couch and Murray Clark). The other paper offers a framework that could help such students to work through the bewildering first few steps in the research journey that often proves too confusing and time consuming for mature candidates (Rahinah Ibrahim). The papers on Project Management while of great interest to managers tended to focus on Project Management issues rather than research methods. However one paper identified the lack of research support for the existing sets of Project Management standards produced by the professional societies (BoK) and discussed the implications.(Miles Shepherd and Roger Atkinson)

An interesting paper presents a visual technique, infographics to aid interviewers in the elicitation of relevant experiences from interview subjects (Robert Campbell, Gillian Green and Mark Grimshaw ). Pearse contributed an unusual paper on the Likert scale. This is widely used but at low levels of granularity (no of scales) and this paper presents research suggesting that we should consider using a much wider range of scales.

The PhD paper that won the award for best PhD paper was by Nicola Swan. This dealt with the problems faced by researchers collecting data in the emerging countries where facilities and attitudes differ markedly from the developed countries.

I would like to thank the help given in the reviewing of the papers from the conference from Marian Carcary, Marie Ashwin, Martin Rich, Roslyn Cameron, Gill Green, Gary Bell and John Warwick.

Ann Brown

September 2011.

 

Keywords: body of knowledge; business research; case study; certification; critical reflexivity; critical discourse analysis; critical research; curriculum design; design science research; dissertation; eagle table; graduate study; graphic elicitation; hermeneutics; inductive profession; inter-disciplinary; IS; IT CMF; knowledge representation; likert scale; maturity models; method combinations; mixed approaches; mixed methods; paradigms; pragmatism; publishing; qualitative methods; qualitative research; quantitative methods; questionnaire design; research design; research framework; research into professional practice; research methodology; research methods; research proposal design; scale construction; scale granularity infographics; teaching design science; teaching research methods

 

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