Empirical studies that use structural equation modeling (SEM) are widespread in information systems research. During the last few years, the component-based approach partial least squares (PLS) for testing structural models has become increasingly popular. At the same time, this approach’s limitations have become a greater concern. Some researchers even suggest using alternative approaches that are considered superior to PLS.

However, we believe that PLS is an adequate choice if the research problem meets certain characteristics and the technique is properly used. Thus, the intention of this article is to resolve potential uncertainties that researchers intending to use PLS might have. Consequently, we provide a nontechnical overview of PLS and outline the ongoing discourses on SEM in general and the PLS approach in particular. Furthermore, we present a basic framework for empirical research applying PLS as well as a detailed explanation of the different process steps. Finally, examples of information systems research using PLS are summarized to demonstrate its beneficial application and the appropriateness of the proposed framework.

This article can serve as a helpful guide for inexperienced researchers applying PLS for the first time, but also as a reference guide for researchers with a better understanding of the field.