International business (IB) researchers have been slow to embrace a configurational approach in hypothesis formulation and empirical analysis. Yet, much of what IB scholars study is inherently configurational: various explanatory factors and their interplay simultaneously determine the outcome(s) studied, such as governance choice or firm-level performance. The mismatch between the nature of the empirical phenomena studied on the one hand, and hypothesis formulation and empirical methods deployed on the other, explains why many quantitative empirical studies in IB are overly reductionist, relying on hypotheses that assume linear (or simple, curvilinear), unifinal, and symmetrical effects. In this Editorial, we introduce IB scholars to contemporary configurational thinking and its analytical tool, fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). We discuss this tool’s main tenets, advantages, and disadvantages. We review the limited prior IB research using this approach and present a wide range of IB phenomena where it could be usefully applied. We propose that contemporary configurational thinking and fsQCA can help scholars produce insights more closely aligned with the complex realities of international business than conventional research approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2020

ID: 52048968