Perceptual equivalence of psychological climates within groups: When agreement indices do not agree Academic Article uri icon


  • Individual climate perceptions (i.e., psychological climates) are often aggregated to form grouplevel climates without considering the equivalence of the meaning of climate within groups. Confirming perceptual equivalence across faultlines withingroup dividing lines that can create subgroups based on the alignment of group member attributes (Lau & Murnighan, 1998) is a particularly important concern given that sensemaking processes and subsequent psychological climates are likely to differ across faultlines. Using safety climate as an exemplar, we demonstrate the importance of assessing qualitative perceptual equivalence (i.e., perceptions of what a climate is) within groups instead of solely relying on traditional agreement indices (e.g., rwg, intraclass correlation [ICC]) to make aggregation decisions. Specifically, we tested for perceptual equivalence across contextspecific faultlines (hierarchical level and organizational heritage) in a large, multinational organization using multigroup hierarchical confirmatory factor analyses and found that although traditional agreement indices universally supported aggregation decisions, tests of perceptual equivalence in 8 of 12 separate subgroup analyses failed to support aggregation. These findings confirm the importance of testing for perceptual equivalence within groups before aggregating psychological climates to the group level.Practitioner pointsOur findings underscore the value for organizations to consider the potential existence of faultlines and to examine their possible influence on employee climate perceptions.These findings also point to the need for organizations to promote qualitative equivalence of climate perceptions among employees independent of the potential existence of faultlines.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Beus, J. M., Jarrett, S. M., Bergman, M. E., & Payne, S. C.

citation count

  • 23

complete list of authors

  • Beus, Jeremy M||Jarrett, Steven M||Bergman, Mindy E||Payne, Stephanie C

publication date

  • September 2012