Understanding Organizational Configurations Using Set Theoretical Methods:
|Complementarities, Corporate Governance,
and Social Responsibility
About the speaker
Gregory Jackson is Professor of Human Resource Management and Labor Politics at the Free University of Berlin. His research on corporate governance, CSR and institutions has been published widely in leading business journals. More than that, he is the Chief Editor of Socio-Economic Review.
Link to website
The growth of configurational approaches to organizations has drawn attention to how the effects of different organizational structures, practices and institutions are interdependent. Rather than one best way of organizing, these approaches suggest the effectiveness of one organizational element may be dependent on the presence or absence of another complementary element. Consequently, organizational arrangements often display complementarities that lead to “multiple equilibria” or what is known as equifinality, whereby multiple pathways may lead to the same or similar outcomes. While being a source of theoretical innovation, studying complementarities or other configurational phenomenon has posed a number of challenges.
This paper reviews the emerging literature on complementarities to identify a series of conceptual challenges related to understanding complementarities as organizational configurations, and examines the methodological challenges in studying how such elements combine to produce joint effects on performance. The paper argues that new set-theoretic methods using fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fs/QCA) may present a very useful methodological alternative.
The presentation will illustrate the potential of fs/QCA by briefly developing two empirical examples using firm-level datasets: first, re-analyzing past work by Aoki, Jackson, Miyajima (2007) on complementarities among ownership structure, board structure, and employment practices of listed firms in Japan and second, examining configurations of responsible and irresponsible behavior toward five different stakeholder groups in the US. In highlighting the potential of this methodological approach, the conclusion will also highlight some current limitations of this approach and areas for future development.
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