Thinking about U: Theorizing and testing U - and inverted U-shaped relationships in strategy research

Richard Haans, Constant Pieters, Z. L. He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

364 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

U- and inverted U-shaped relationships are increasingly explored in strategy research, with 11 percent of all articles published in Strategic Management Journal (SMJ) in 2008–2012 investigating such quadratic relationships. Moreover, a movement towards introducing moderation to quadratic relationships has emerged. By reviewing 110 articles published in SMJ from 1980 to 2012, we identify several critical issues in theorizing and testing of these relationships for which current practice falls short. These include insufficient causal argumentation, incorrect testing, mixing up two different types of moderation, and not realizing that the curve can flip completely. For these and other issues, a guideline is provided which, when followed, may bring clarity to theoretical motivation and rigor to empirical testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1195
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Volume37
Issue number7
Early online date28 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Keywords

  • inverted U-shape
  • turning point shift
  • flattening and steepening
  • shape flip
  • research methods

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