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Mediation analysis in partial least squares path modeling: Helping researchers discuss more sophisticated models

Christian Nitzl (Bundeswehr University Munich, Munich, Germany )
Jose L. Roldan (Department of Business Management and Marketing, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain )
Gabriel Cepeda (Department of Business Management and Marketing, Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain )

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 17 October 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Indirect or mediated effects constitute a type of relationship between constructs that often occurs in partial least squares (PLS) path modeling. Over the past few years, the methods for testing mediation have become more sophisticated. However, many researchers continue to use outdated methods to test mediating effects in PLS, which can lead to erroneous results. One reason for the use of outdated methods or even the lack of their use altogether is that no systematic tutorials on PLS exist that draw on the newest statistical findings. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study illustrates the state-of-the-art use of mediation analysis in the context of PLS-structural equation modeling (SEM).

Findings

This study facilitates the adoption of modern procedures in PLS-SEM by challenging the conventional approach to mediation analysis and providing more accurate alternatives. In addition, the authors propose a decision tree and classification of mediation effects.

Originality/value

The recommended approach offers a wide range of testing options (e.g. multiple mediators) that go beyond simple mediation analysis alternatives, helping researchers discuss their studies in a more accurate way.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Joseph F. Hair, Christian M. Ringle, and Marko Sarstedt for their fruitful comments and ideas regarding an earlier version of this manuscript. Furthermore, the authors thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for the valuable comments.

Citation

Nitzl, C., Roldan, J.L. and Cepeda, G. (2016), "Mediation analysis in partial least squares path modeling: Helping researchers discuss more sophisticated models", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 116 No. 9, pp. 1849-1864. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-07-2015-0302

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited