Measuring theoretically complex constructs: The case of acquisition performance

Margaret Cording, Petra Christmann, Carmen Weigelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Researchers face numerous challenges when measuring complex theoretical constructs. This article focuses on the tension between the benefits of measurement precision and the benefits of generalizability in the context of the acquisition performance construct. Achieving precision tends to lead to measurement proliferation, while achieving generalizability calls for measurement convergence. The authors perform qualitative and quantitative analyses to determine how the literature has dealt with this tension.They conclude that acquisition performance is a theoretically complex construct comprised of relatively unrelated dimensions and that there is often a misalignment between theory and measurement - resulting in missed opportunities to capture the benefits of precision or the benefits of generalizability. Based on their analyses, the authors' develop a framework to help future acquisition researchers manage the tension between precision and generalizability. The approach is recommended for use by researchers studying other theoretically complex constructs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-41
Number of pages31
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


  • Construct validity
  • Measurement issues
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Structural equation modeling


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