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A Meta Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Strategic Flexibility

2014-08-04 , Herhausen, Dennis , Morgan, Robert E. , Volberda, Henk W.

It is axiomatic that strategic flexibility is a key success factor in generating competitive advantage. Despite this maxim, often peddled in the normative literature, empirical studies have produced inconsistent results for the strength and direction of this relationship. We synthesize these results and provide empirical support for a general, moderate, and positive effect of strategic flexibility on firm performance. Moreover, we find that strategic flexibility indirectly affects financial performance through its positive effects on innovation capability and superior market position, and that strategic flexibility has a negative direct effect on financial performance. Importantly, the meta-analytic evidence also indicates that the strategic flexibility-performance relationship depends on measurement methods, the research context, and certain environmental characteristics. Exploratory analyses regarding the antecedents of strategic flexibility reveal many meaningful differences to the predominant expectations in prior research. Overall, our results provide the necessary nuance to discerning the specific antecedent and consequential effects of strategic flexibility, thereby providing valuable implications for managers, and outlining a research agenda for future inquiries.