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Causal path modeling: what it does and what it does not tell us

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This paper attempts to demystify the technique of causal path modeling for the non-specialists by presenting aspects of its value for social science and management research and by illustrating common misunderstandings about its attributes. Special emphasis is placed on the real world validity of causal relationships depicted in causal path models and on the information that the data-fitting properties of causal path models provide regarding this issue. Causal path models that are based on research in antecedents of career success are used to illustrate the points that are made. It is stressed that the validity of causal relationships depicted in causal path models is subject to exactly the same methodological restrictions as the validity of causality claims that are made without the use of causal path modeling; and that the purpose of using quantitative techniques in causal path modeling is not to improve certainty on causality direction.

Keywords: Career Development; Management Studies; Modelling; Networks; Quantitative Techniques

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13620430310459469

Publication date: February 19, 2003

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