Contingency hypotheses in strategic management research: Use, disuse, or misuse?

Brian K. Boyd, Katalin Takacs Haynes, Michael A. Hitt, Donald D. Bergh, David J. Ketchen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


The answer to many strategic management research questions is often summarized as "It depends." Faced with the marginal results of many main effect hypothesis tests of one variable on another variable, strategy researchers began developing contingency hypotheses that explored more nuanced relationships involving multiple variables. Herein, the authors examine the development of contingency thinking in strategic management via a review of all empirical articles published in Strategic Management Journal from its inception in 1980 through 2009. Using Venkatraman's framework, they identify all contingency studies within this sample. Their analysis reveals that, while contingency hypotheses are becoming more common, there is less diversity in the way the effects are tested. Additionally, while the framing of contingency hypotheses has become more sophisticated over time, there remain many opportunities for methodological improvements. Based on this content analysis, the authors offer both theoretical and methodological guidelines for future strategic management studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-313
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • contingency theory
  • research methods
  • strategic management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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