Finite mixture and genetic algorithm segmentation in partial least aquares path modeling: Identification of multiple segments in complex path models

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Advances in Data Analysis, Data Handling and Business Intelligence, 2010, 1, pp. 167 - 176
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When applying structural equation modeling methods, such as partial least squares (PLS) path modeling, in empirical studies, the assumption that the data have been collected from a single homogeneous population is often unrealistic. Unobserved heterogeneity in the PLS estimates on the aggregate data level may result in misleading interpretations. Finite mixture partial least squares (FIMIX-PLS) and PLS genetic algorithm segmentation (PLS-GAS) allow the classification of data in variance-based structural equation modeling. This research presents an initial application and comparison of these two methods in a computational experiment in respect of a path model which includes multiple endogenous latent variables. The results of this analysis reveal particular advantages and disadvantages of the approaches. This study further substantiates the effectiveness of FIMIX-PLS and PLS-GAS and provides researchers and practitioners with additional information they need to proficiently evaluate their PLS path modeling results by applying a systematic means of analysis. If significant heterogeneity were to be uncovered by the procedures, the analysis may result in group-specific path modeling outcomes, thus allowing further differentiated and more precise conclusions to be formed.
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