Differential Item Functioning: Establishing Item Equivalence when Researching Immigrant Populations

By Vinita Ambwani and Steven A. Murphy.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Novel research methods are needed to explore and honour the diversity present in organizational and national populations. The importance of measurement equivalence in survey research has been emphasized by researchers in cross-cultural studies involving cross-national samples. Heterogeneity of respondents is evident, even expected in cross-national samples, however, less evident and potentially equally critical is the growing ethnic heterogeneity of several national populations. Yet organizational research has largely treated such populations as homogeneous groups.

Measurement items that function differently for different groups in a population can be diagnosed using different techniques termed DIF (Differential Item Functioning) analyses. This paper discusses techniques based on Item Response Theory (IRT), and argues for their increased use in organizational research based on the growing number of immigrant populations in various countries. In light of changing demographics, traditional methods of establishing the validity of survey research are not sufficient, and this paper argues for more rigor in analyses of bias in measurement items.

Keywords: Immigrant Populations, Diversity, Differential Item Functioning, Measurement Equivalece, Methodological Challenges

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.109-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.236MB).

Vinita Ambwani

PhD Candidate, Management, Eric Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Vinita Ambwani is a PhD candidate in management at the Sprott Business School, Carleton University in Ottawa. Ms. Ambwani has several years of industry experience and has taught courses in Marketing, Finance and International Business areas as an Assistant Professor at Mount Allison University of Canada. Ms. Ambwani holds an MBA from Baruch College, CUNY, NY in the USA and an MS in Physics from Bhopal University, India. Her current research interests include minority and immigrant populations as workers in host countries and she has authored research papers that have been accepted at the Academy of Management conference and Administrative Sciences Association of Canada.

Dr. Steven A. Murphy

Associate Professor, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Steven Murphy is an Associate Professor in the Sprott School of Business in Ottawa, Canada. His research involves applying behavioral and social psychological concepts into other academic realms. In particular, he has applied business concepts to practices in design, the fine arts and theatre. Human emotions form the pillar of Steven’s research, and he has examined them in relation to corporate boards, computer mediated communication and the leader-follower dyad.


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