Destruction of measurement scale through exploratory factor analysis in production and operations research

posted on 05.12.2017 by Diogenes Souza Bido, Daielly Melina Nassif Mantovani, Eric David Cohen

Abstract This paper aims to assess the use of Exploratory Factor Analysis by Production and Operations researchers, discussing the adequacy of its application. We analyzed 97 papers published between 2010 and 2015 in the Production and Operations area -- of which 61 and 36 were published in international and Brazilian journals, respectively. These papers contain 140 different applications of Factor Analysis. The research shows that confirmatory techniques are prevalent in international papers, as well as exploratory techniques to evaluate the problem of common method bias. Conversely, the papers in Brazilian journals typically use the exploratory technique in more traditional ways, such as to confirm the unidimensionality of the construct, or still to generate scores for use in other statistical techniques. Despite the textbooks for the AFE teaching focus exclusively on the use of AFE in the exploratory mode (to identify the number and meaning of the common factors), this use has been less frequent in published articles, both national and international. Moreover, the research shows that the inappropriate use of exploratory (rather than confirmatory) factor analysis in four Brazilian papers resulted in the “destruction of theory”. These findings suggest that national research have been using exploratory factor analysis in a questionable way; in this sense we propose scholars discuss this topic in order to disseminate the good practices.