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Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and Configurational Thinking in Management Studies

Conrad Schulze-Bentrop

This study was awarded the Preis des Präsidiums für ausgezeichnete Dissertationen der Universität Paderborn as well as the Preis der Unternehmergruppe Ostwestfalen für hervorragende Dissertationen.

Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) – especially its fuzzy set version – has emerged as a new methodological tool in management studies which is ideally suited to test configurational theories. For the first time, the peculiarities of QCA in large-N designs are comprehensively analysed. Based on a systematic compilation of 145 empirical QCA studies valuable insights for the use of QCA as a quantitative technique are presented. For example, an innovative formula is developed which can substantially improve future model specifications. In a next step, the potential of QCA in management research is outlined by tracing configurational theories in a range of disciplines including strategy, HRM, marketing, and international business. This tour d’horizon through management studies highlights the wide application area of the methodology. Finally, an illustrative study is conducted using the fuzzy set version of QCA.

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Index of figures ................................................................................................... XI Index of tables .................................................................................................. XIII 1. Introduction ................................................................................................... 1 2. The nature of configurational comparative methods ................................ 9 2.1 The technique ...................................................................................... 10 2.1.1 Crisp set QCA ............................................................................... 10 2.1.2 Fuzzy set QCA .............................................................................. 14 2.1.3 Two challenges: Contradictions and limited diversity ................. 27 2.2 QCA in practice: A literature review .................................................. 32 2.2.1 Country-level ................................................................................ 34 2.2.2 Organisational-level ...................................................................... 39 2.2.3 Individual-level ............................................................................. 43 2.2.4 General conclusions ...................................................................... 46 2.3 The model specification in large-N designs ....................................... 48 2.3.1 The relationship between conditions and cases ............................ 50 2.3.2 A formula ...................................................................................... 53 2.3.3 The importance of natural limited diversity ................................. 64 2.3.4 Three levels of limited diversity ................................................... 69 2.3.5 The generation of macro-variables ............................................... 72 2.3.6 Setting the consistency threshold .................................................. 73 2.3.7 Hypothesising necessity and sufficiency ...................................... 77 2.3.8 Gauging the model ........................................................................ 81 3. Configurational thinking in management studies .................................... 83 3.1 Uniting configurational theories ......................................................... 84 3.2 The mismatch between hypotheses and method ................................. 88 3.2.1 Sufficient combinations of conditions .......................................... 88 3.2.2 Necessary conditions .................................................................... 92 IX X 3.3 The polarities and similarities of QCA and regression ....................... 96 3.4 Varieties of managerial configurations ............................................... 98 3.4.1 Strategic management ................................................................. 102 3.4.2 Human resource management ..................................................... 104 3.4.3 Organisational behaviour ............................................................ 105 3.4.4 Leadership ................................................................................... 106 3.4.5 Business ethics and corporate social responsibility .................... 107 3.4.6 Corporate Governance ................................................................ 108 3.4.7 Entrepreneurship ......................................................................... 109 3.4.8 Marketing .................................................................................... 110 3.4.9 International business.................................................................. 111 4. An illustrative QCA: Work groups and taylorism ................................ 113 4.1 Introduction ....................................................................................... 113 4.2 Literature and theory ......................................................................... 117 4.2.1 Previous research on holistic group work ................................... 117 4.2.2 A configurational approach ........................................................ 120 4.2.3 Hypotheses .................................................................................. 124 4.3 Empirical analysis ............................................................................. 126 4.3.1 Calibration of the outcome and conditions...

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