Are ''U'' sure? Improving the theoretical and empirical investigation of curvilinear relationships in strategy research


The (inverted) U-shaped hypothesis features prominently in recent management research, as scholars turn their attention to relationships for which departures from linearity are of primary theoretical interest. Unfortunately, a careful examination of recent papers in leading journals reveals serious deficiencies in theorizing, testing, and interpreting such relationships. We identify and explain con-sequential and widespread deficiencies in each dimension, demonstrate their potentially deleterious effects, and make recommendations for improved practice. Implementing these practices will help minimize shortcomings observed in the current literature. More importantly, by sharpening our theoretical and empirical lens, they allow researchers to ask and test new types of questions.

Strategic Management Journal (Revision requested)