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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 tables

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Table 1: Prime implicant chart ............................................................................ 14 Table 2: List of crisp set QCAs based on country-level data ............................. 34 Table 3: List of fuzzy set QCAs based on country-level data ............................ 36 Table 4: List of crisp set QCAs based on organisational-level data ................... 39 Table 5: List of fuzzy set QCAs based on organisational-level data .................. 41 Table 6: List of crisp set QCAs based on individual-level data ......................... 43 Table 7: List of fuzzy set QCAs based on individual-level data ........................ 44 Table 8: Number of QCA studies published 2000-2011 by level of analysis and sample size ..................................................................................... 48 Table 9: Overview of diverse QCA model specifications .................................. 56 Table 10: Grant et al.'s truth table ....................................................................... 66 Table 11: Descriptive review of consistency gaps and thresholds ..................... 75 Table 12: The polarity between QCA and regression ......................................... 97 Table 13: Varieties of managerial configurations ............................................... 99 Table 14: Analysis of necessary conditions ...................................................... 131 Table 15: Truth table for presence of HWPs .................................................... 133 Table 16: Sufficient configurations for presence of HWPs .............................. 134 Table 17: Sufficient configurations for absence of HWPs ............................... 136 Table 18: Comparison of profitability by firm type and type of group work ... 138 Table 19: Truth table for absence of HWPs ...................................................... 185 XIII XIV

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