ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance

Factorial Surveys - Methods and Applications 1

Session Organisers Dr Lena M. Verneuer (University of Bielefeld)
Professor Stefanie Eifler (Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)
Dr Hermann Dülmer (University of Cologne)
TimeThursday 18th July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room D30

Since vignette-designs (e.g. factorial surveys; scenario techniques) as indirect measurement
techniques are very common in the social sciences by now, many different applications
can be found. Depending on theoretical and methodological objectives, the
applied techniques vary in a broad range and lead to different and sometimes inconsistent
results. Due to this diversity, findings on methodological and substantial issues
can have different meanings and impacts for further research.
This session chooses one way of anticipating the divers field of factorial surveys and
vignette-designs in general and aims at shedding light on the stage of affairs by discussing
recent developments and pooling new findings of projects that try to enrich the
discussion. The focus of the session is explicitly broad and all contributions dealing
with different analytical strategies, empirical designs or substantial research that make
use of factorial surveys or other vignette-designs are welcome. Papers matching one of
the following aspects are cordially invited to be part of this session:

• comparison and discussion of design-related questions regarding methodological
or substantive aspects,
• new developments in measuring intentions with vignettes,
• theoretical ideas for modelling the relationship between intentions and behavior
for further empirical analyses,
• cross validation strategies (new approaches, replications),
• discussion of (dis-)advantages of vignette-designs, validations strategies and/or
• issues of data-collection,
• substantive applications of factorial surveys

Keywords: Factorial Surveys; Vignette-Designs;

Assessing Preferences for Working Arrangements in a Discrete Choice Experiment.

Dr Peter Valet (University of Bamberg) - Presenting Author
Dr Carsten Sauer (Radboud University Nijmegen)

In the course of neo-liberal reforms in recent decades, so called normal employment conditions have been partially replaced by new atypical forms of employment. Atypical employment relationships are particularly beneficial to employers, as they allow for more flexibility in the use of workforce but are mostly regarded as unfavorable by employees. However, companies must ensure that they find and retain qualified employees who are willing to forego the benefits of a normal employment relationship. For example, offering further training or higher wages might be more attractive to some employees than the security of a long-term contract. To understand these individual trade-offs and how job characteristics are weighed against each other, multi-factorial survey experiments are useful. Particularly discrete choice experiments based on random-utility theory offer one possibility to accomplish this. As in factorial surveys attributes are randomly varied in their levels, however, instead of sequential evaluations alternatives are evaluated directly against each other.
In this paper, we present an application of a discrete choice experiment on preferences for different job arrangements. Respondents had to choose one among three possible job arrangements with varying levels of income, prestige of the company, job security, flexibility, and training opportunities. Drawing on insights from the quality of work literature we constructed 12 different choice sets with three differing job offers per set. In a between-subjects design, choice sets were evaluated by 2741 respondents of the German employee survey “Legitimation of Inequality Over the Life-Span” (LINOS). First results suggest that it heavily depends on respondents’ social context whether they are willing to forego job security for higher wages. We relate our results to other data collection methods and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of discrete choice experiments as well as possible further applications.

Using Hypothetical Vacancies in Factorial Surveys to Study Employers' Hiring Decisions – A Valid Approach?

Ms Tamara Gutfleisch (University of Luxembourg) - Presenting Author
Professor Robin Samuel (University of Luxembourg)

Factorial survey experiments are increasingly employed by scholars interested in understanding the general mechanisms underlying employers' hiring decisions in relation to specific applicant characteristics. Usually, a sample of human resource professionals is asked to rate the hiring chances of hypothetical applicants for a hypothetical job. However, using hypothetical job descriptions for the evaluation of applicants in factorial surveys may reduce the internal and external validity of the results. For example, employers might apply different evaluation standards when assessing the quality of applicant profiles for a hypothetical job (put less/more weight on certain characteristics) because it is difficult to put themselves in the actual hiring situation – affecting the internal validity.
In this paper, we contextualize prior factorial survey experiments by examining whether there is a difference in employers' hiring intentions when confronted with real versus hypothetical hiring problems. Despite the growing number of factorial surveys and the potential implications for the validity of these data, this question has been widely neglected so far. We employ a factorial survey experiment among recruiters in different occupational sectors in Luxembourg. Recruiters evaluate the hiring chances of several profiles of hypothetical applicants with varying characteristics either referring to a real vacancy in their company or to a hypothetical (but similar) job type.
Preliminary findings suggest no differences in employers hiring decisions based on the type of evaluation used in the factorial survey. The results partly contradict previous findings from pretest data which showed significant differences between the average hiring chances in the two groups. By examining the internal validity of presenting hypothetical vacancies, this study contributes to methodological research on factorial surveys as well as to the literature studying employers' hiring decisions.

Applying a Vignette-Based Factorial Survey to the Hard-to-Reach Sample of Entrepreneurs

Professor Peter Graeff (Kiel University) - Presenting Author
Miss Julia Kleinewiese (Kiel University)
Professor Petra Dickel (Kiel University of the Applied Sciences)
Professor Robert Neumann (Dresden University of Technology)

Our presentation deals with ways in which cost-benefit considerations influence entrepreneurs’ propensity to engage in corruption by applying a vignette-based factorial survey. It further investigates how the effects of these considerations are fostered by entrepreneurs’ adherence to legal standards (norm internalization) and the degree to which they ponder the pros and cons of an ethically challenging business situation (deliberation). In this empirical setting, a vignette based factorial design is beneficial for reducing social desirability bias and deducing causal effects. Scrutinizing corruption in real situations is hardly possible. Therefore, we measure the intentions of engaging in corruption as the next best indicator. We discuss the issues of data-collection in regard to this particular sample.
A multi-level analysis of 760 vignettes from 148 entrepreneurs indicates that the propensity of entrepreneurs to participate in acts of corruption is driven by expected economic gains and a high probability that the corruption will be successful. However, the probability of detection does not affect their propensity for corruption, which might be specific to the entrepreneurs-sample. The impact of these factors increases when entrepreneurs have a higher tendency to ponder the pros and cons of an opportunity to commit corruption.