An Introduction to Fuzzy-Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) and Causal Complexity

26 January 2016
Versione stampabile

2 PM, Seminar Room, Department of Economics and Management

Speaker: Dr. Santi Furnari, Senior Lecturer in Strategy, Cass Business School, City, University of London 


Most current social research deals with phenomena that can be conceived as complex systems of interdependent factors –i.e. are characterized by “causal complexity” (Ragin, 2008). For example, many organization theories conceive organizations as configurations of multiple interacting elements (e.g. activities, resources, practices). However, conventional statistical methods are often less suited to analyse these multiple interdependencies, mostly focusing on the additive, net effect of single variables. This seminar will provide an overview and introduction to Fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fs/QCA), a set-theoretic method that explicitly conceptualizes cases as configurations of elements, providing tools for assessing the combined, configurational effects of multiple elements and evaluating the equifinality of different configurations (i.e. when different configurations lead to the same outcome and which configuration is more important). Based in Boolean algebra, fs/QCA is better suited to examine situations of complex conjunctural causality (Ragin, 1987; 2000; 2008), where different causes may combine to bring about an outcome of interest and where there is more than one path to an outcome. While fs/QCA was initially developed to analyze medium-N datasets (e.g., 12-40 cases), more recently it has been extended to deal with large-N datasets (e.g., 100+ cases). This method is increasingly used in organization and management top journals (see Misangyi et al., 2016; Rihoux et al., 2013 for statistics).     

See attached reading for an overview/background on fs/QCA and causal complexity. 

Speaker’s Short Bio
Dr. Santi Furnari is Senior Lecturer in Strategy at Cass Business School, City, University of London. His paper titled “A Chemistry of Organization” (with Anna Grandori) has been among the first empirical applications of fs/QCA in management studies. Santi’s research has been published in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, Human Relations, Industrial and Corporate Change, Journal of Management, Organization Studies (among others). His paper on “Interstitial Spaces” has been awarded the Academy of Management Review Best Paper Award for the best paper published in AMR in 2014. Santi is regularly invited to teach doctoral and junior faculty seminars on fs/QCA around Europe and to speak at fs/QCA-related academic events, such as the International QCA Expert Workshop at ETH Zurich.