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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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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 Issue

Volume 8 Issue 1 / Sep 2010  pp1‑62

Editor: Ann Brown

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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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