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Article

Individualism-Collectivism: A Review of Conceptualization and Measurement  

Chao C. Chen and Ali F. Unal

The concept of individualism-collectivism (I-C) has been a prominent construct in philosophy, political science, sociology, psychology, and organization and management. Its meaning may vary greatly in scope, content, and levels of analysis, depending on the fields of inquiry and the phenomenon of interest. We focus on I-C as it relates to values, identities, motives, and behaviors in the context of organization and management. At its core, I-C is about self-collective relationships and the impact they have on the relational dynamics and outcomes at various levels of analysis. Theory and research have identified patterns of contrasts between individualism and collectivism. While the individualist orientation emphasizes individual self-identity, personal agency, and values that tend to prioritize individuals over collectives, the collectivist orientation emphasizes individuals’ collective identity, collective agency, and values that tend to prioritize collectives over individuals. Various I-C conceptions have been critically evaluated with the focus on basic assumptions regarding the nature of individualism and collectivism as unidimensional, bidimensional, or multidimensional constructs, and whether or not individualism and collectivism are conceived as inherently oppositional or complementary to form a high-order construct. Specifically, previous reviews of culture and value studies in general, and of I-C studies in particular, acknowledge the possibility that individualist and collectivist orientations may coexist within a diverse society, organization, or group, and that those orientations may change over time or evolve to tackle emergent survival challenges. However, most previous reviews continue to focus on the unitary construct of I-C composed of two entities as polar opposites of each other, the high of one meaning the low of the other. Over time, instead of or in addition to the initial unidimensional conception of I-C, research has adopted the bidimensional or multidimensional conceptions. Furthermore, more of bi- or multidimensional conceptions have adopted the unipolar approach. That is, maintaining I-C as a high-order construct, individualism and collectivism are conceived as independent dimensions of I-C, each varies on a separate continuum, making it possible that individuals, groups and societies may be categorized on the various combinations of individualism and collectivism. The advantages of the multidimensional approach have been emphasized, but issues of conceptual muddiness have also been raised, together with the challenges of theory-based research. It is recommended that I-C researchers be mindful of conceptual equivalence in developing I-C constructs and measurements and consider the optimal distinctiveness theory and the dialectic perspective as two potential overarching perspectives for comparative research on I-C. Finally, areas of future research have been identified as fertile fields for generating knowledge and understanding of I-C.

Article

Qualitative Comparative Analysis in Business and Management Research  

Johannes Meuer and Peer C. Fiss

During the last decade, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) has become an increasingly popular research approach in the management and business literature. As an approach, QCA consists of both a set of analytical techniques and a conceptual perspective, and the origins of QCA as an analytical technique lie outside the management and business literature. In the 1980s, Charles Ragin, a sociologist and political scientist, developed a systematic, comparative methodology as an alternative to qualitative, case-oriented approaches and to quantitative, variable-oriented approaches. Whereas the analytical technique of QCA was developed outside the management literature, the conceptual perspective underlying QCA has a long history in the management literature, in particular in the form of contingency and configurational theory that have played an important role in management theories since the late 1960s. Until the 2000s, management researchers only sporadically used QCA as an analytical technique. Between 2007 and 2008, a series of seminal articles in leading management journals laid the conceptual, methodological, and empirical foundations for QCA as a promising research approach in business and management. These articles led to a “first” wave of QCA research in management. During the first wave—occurring between approximately 2008 and 2014—researchers successfully published QCA-based studies in leading management journals and triggered important methodological debates, ultimately leading to a revival of the configurational perspective in the management literature. Following the first wave, a “second” wave—between 2014 and 2018—saw a rapid increase in QCA publications across several subfields in management research, the development of methodological applications of QCA, and an expansion of scholarly debates around the nature, opportunities, and future of QCA as a research approach. The second wave of QCA research in business and management concluded with researchers’ taking stock of the plethora of empirical studies using QCA for identifying best practice guidelines and advocating for the rise of a “neo-configurational” perspective, a perspective drawing on set-theoretic logic, causal complexity, and counterfactual analysis. Nowadays, QCA is an established approach in some research areas (e.g., organization theory, strategic management) and is diffusing into several adjacent areas (e.g., entrepreneurship, marketing, and accounting), a situation that promises new opportunities for advancing the analytical technique of QCA as well as configurational thinking and theorizing in the business and management literature. To advance the analytical foundations of QCA, researchers may, for example, advance robustness tests for QCA or focus on issues of endogeneity and omitted variables in QCA. To advance the conceptual foundations of QCA, researchers may, for example, clarify the links between configurational theory and related theoretical perspectives, such as systems theory or complexity theory, or develop theories on the temporal dynamics of configurations and configurational change. Ultimately, after a decade of growing use and interest in QCA and given the unique strengths of this approach for addressing questions relevant to management research, QCA will continue to influence research in business and management.