Re-examining Strategic Flexibility: A Meta-analysis of its Antecedents, Consequences and Contingencies

Dennis Herhausen, Robert E. Morgan*, Danilo Brozović, Henk Volberda

*Corresponding author for this work

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Strategic flexibility (SF) is a concept that has evolved from strategy through other disciplines, including management, marketing, innovation, entrepreneurship and operations. However, despite attempts to consolidate the domain of SF, there remain theoretical and empirical tensions underlying its antecedents, the consequences and contingencies. Based on 106 independent samples reported in 98 different studies (n = 26,940 firms), we provide a meta‐analytical examination of these tensions. We highlight and resolve several disagreements regarding the enablers, inhibitors and triggers of SF, and we reveal an adjusted mean performance effect of 0.24. We further find that the measurement of SF, as well as some, but not all, dimensions of the environment, moderate the performance effect. Finally, an explorative analysis reveals that innovation outcomes and market outcomes mediate the positive relationship between SF and financial outcomes, in addition to a negative direct effect. These insights provide a comprehensive and coherent understanding of the nomological network of SF and a stronger basis for further theorizing and conducting empirical research. Moreover, our findings help firms to refine their strategy by implementing the right enablers that drive SF and to understand how and when their investment in SF pays off.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)435-455
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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Published online: 15. June

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