Establishing causal order in longitudinal studies combining binary and continuous dependent variables

Gerhard Kling, Charles Harvey, Mairi Maclean

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Longitudinal studies with a mix of binary outcomes and continuous variables are common in organizational research. Selecting the dependent variable is often difficult due to conflicting theories and contradictory empirical studies. In addition, organizational researchers are confronted with methodological challenges posed by latent variables relating to observed binary outcomes and within-subject correlation. We draw on Dueker’s (2005) qualitative vector autoregression (QVAR) and Lunn et al.’s (2014) multivariate probit model to develop a solution to these problems in the form of a qualitative short panel vector autoregression (QSP-VAR). The QSP-VAR combines binary and continuous variables into a single vector of dependent variables, making every variable endogenous a priori. The QSP-VAR identifies causal order, reveals within-subject correlation and accounts for latent variables. Using a Bayesian approach, the QSP-VAR provides reliable inference for short time dimension longitudinal research. This is demonstrated through analysis of the durability of elite corporate agents, social networks and firm performance in France. We provide our OpenBUGS code to enable implementation of the QSP-VAR by other researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)770-799
Number of pages30
JournalOrganizational Research Methods
Issue number4
Early online date30 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Bayesian statistics, binary dependent variables, causality, longitudinal research, vector autoregression


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