Treating unobserved heterogeneity in PLS path modelling: A comparison of FIMIX-PLS with different data analysis strategies

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Journal Article
Journal of Applied Statistics, 2010, 37 (8), pp. 1299 - 1318
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In the social science disciplines, the assumption that the data stem from a single homogeneous population is often unrealistic in respect of empirical research. When applying a causal modeling approach, such as partial least squares path modeling, segmentation is a key issue in coping with the problem of heterogeneity in the estimated causeeffect relationships. This article uses the novel finite-mixture partial least squares (FIMIX-PLS) method to uncover unobserved heterogeneity in a complex path modeling example in the field of marketing. An evaluation of the results includes a comparison with the outcomes of several data analysis strategies based on a priori information or k-means cluster analysis. The results of this article underpin the effectiveness and the advantageous capabilities of FIMIX-PLS in general PLS path model set-ups by means of empirical data and formative as well as reflective measurement models. Consequently, this research substantiates the general applicability of FIMIX-PLS to path modeling as a standard means of evaluating PLS results by addressing the problem of unobserved heterogeneity.
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