Is Qualitative Comparative Analysis an Emerging Method?—Structured Literature Review and Bibliometric Analysis of QCA Applications in Business and Management Research

Part of the FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship book series (FGFS)


Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is a powerful method originating in the fields of political science and sociology, where it is becoming a mainstream method. This article analyzes the state of QCA applications in business and management (B&M) research by conducting a structured literature review, which results in the identification of 96 studies between 1995 and 2015. Additionally, the knowledge basis of those articles is analyzed by means of a citations analysis. The 5,141 unique citations serve to also structure the research front using a bibliometric coupling analysis. The results point towards a somewhat deferred development of QCA in the discipline, which has recently undergone a quantum leap with regard to the number of publications as well as the advance of the method application. The current development is strongly determined by the originator of the method, Charles Ragin, and by the first studies applying QCA in business and management. Yet, the research front is only loosely connected, underlining that QCA remains at an early stage of adoption in business and management. The chapter gives three recommendations for future QCA studies and predicts a progressing profile formation of QCA in business and management research that can contribute to the adoption of configurational thinking within the discipline.


Bibliometric coupling Citation analysis Qualitative comparative analysis 



The author is grateful to suggestions from participants of the Global Innovation and Knowledge Academy (GIKA) 2015 in Valencia, Spain. Two anonymous reviewers provided valuable insights and comments that helped improve this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Marketing and Management, EntrepreneurshipUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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