Qualitative comparative analysis: justifying a neo-configurational approach in management research


  • Tobias Coutinho Parente Universidade de São Paulo
  • Ryan Federo ESADE Business School


QCA, Case knowledge, Causal complexity, Configurational theory


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect and offer insights on how to justify the use of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) as a research method for understanding the complexity of organizational phenomena, by applying the principles of the neo-configurational approach. Design/methodology/approach – We present and critically examine three arguments regarding the use of QCA for management research. First, they discuss the need to assume configurational theories to build and empirically test a causal model of interest. Second, we explain how the three principles of causal complexity are assumed during the process of conducting QCA-based studies. Third, we elaborate on the importance of case knowledge when selecting the data for the analysis and when interpreting the results. Findings – We argue that it is important to reflect on these arguments to have an appropriate research design. In the true spirit of the configurational approach, we contend that the three arguments presented are necessary; however, each argument is insufficient to warrant a QCA research design. Originality/value – This paper contributes to management research by offering key arguments on how to justify the use of QCA-based studies in future research endeavors.


Download data is not yet available.






Conceptual paper