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Kenan Institute 2024 Grand Challenge: Business Resilience
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Jan 27, 2016

Improving Our Understanding of Moderation and Mediation in Strategic Management Research


We clarify differences among moderation, partial mediation, and full mediation and identify methodological problems related to moderation and mediation from a review of articles in Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science published from 2005 to 2014. Regarding moderation, we discuss measurement error, range restriction, and unequal sample sizes across moderator-based subgroups; insufficient statistical power; the artificial categorization of continuous variables; assumed negative consequences of correlations between product terms and its components (i.e., multicollinearity); and interpretation of first-order effects based on models excluding product terms. Regarding mediation, we discuss problems with the causal-steps procedure, inferences about mediation based on cross-sectional designs, whether a relation between the antecedent and the outcome is necessary for testing mediation, the routine inclusion of a direct path from the antecedent to the outcome, and consequences of measurement error. We also explain how integrating moderation and mediation can lead to important and useful insights for strategic management theory and practice. Finally, we offer specific and actionable recommendations for improving the appropriateness and accuracy of tests of moderation and mediation in strategic management research. Our recommendations can also be used as a checklist for editors and reviewers who evaluate manuscripts reporting tests of moderation and mediation.

Note: Research papers posted on ResearchGate, including any findings, may differ from the final version chosen for publication in academic journals.

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