Necessary Condition Analysis

Necessary Condition Analysis (NCA) is a new approach and data analysis technique for identifying necessary (but not sufficient) conditions in data sets. It can complement traditional regression based data analysis as well as methods like QCA. NCA provides very relevant insights for practice. Recent methodological and substantive publications show that NCA can combine rigor and relevance.


NCA at IPSERA 2017

At the 26th annual conference of the International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association (IPSERA) in Budapest-Balatonfüred, Hungary, 9-12 April 2017, two papers that use NCA were presented and a NCA workshop was held.

Romaric Servajean-Hilst (École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, Île-de-France, France) presented the paper Necessary governing practices for success and failure of client-supplier innovation cooperation. He found that considering the client-supplier as a key account, and to regular involve the client's purchasing function are necessary for successful cooperation. 

Fabian Nullmeier (with Finn Wynstra, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands), presented the paper Necessity of hybrid service contracts. He found that hybrid contracts are found to be necessary in contracting high outcome uncertainty services. With this paper Fabian (photo) won one of the five IPSERA bursaries.

Jan Dul (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands) and Zsófia Tóth (Nottingham University Business School, UK) held a workshop on Necessary Condition Analysis. The participants discussed backgrounds and potential applications of NCA in specific purchasing and supply management areas.

The full program of the conference is here.

Posted 12 April 2017.

New paper applies NCA in servitization research

paper by Rui Sousa (Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Porto, Portugal) and  Giovani da Silveira (University of Calgary, Canada) discusses servitization strategies of manufacturing firms: competing through product-service systems rather than products alone. They distinguish between servitization strategies based on the offering of Basic Services (BAS, installing and maintaining basic product functionality), and servitization strategies based on Advanced Services (ADS, working closely with customers to co-create value that goes beyond basic product operation). They test the hypothesis that the offering of BAS is a necessary condition ("platform") for the offering of ADS. Their scatterplot (photo) with a manually added ceiling line shows an empty space in the upper left corner, supporting the hypothesis.

Posted 24 March 2017

NCA in stock market research

A team of researchers led by Mathijs van Dijk (Rotterdam School of Management) applied NCA in a study about success factors of new stock markets. They analysed 59 stock markets that have been established in developing countries since 1975 and found that early success is a necessary condition for success in the long run. In particular, a stock market needs to have a minimum number of listings – roughly around fifteen – in the first five years, and roughly seven per cent of the listed shares need to be traded every year during that period. A short video summarizes this study and its NCA application.

Posted 20 March 2017

NCA used for theory formulation in a PhD dissertation

In a PhD dissertation of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, entitled “The growth of high-tech companies: theoretical framework and empirical research”, Ivan Župić (photo) used NCA to formulate “barriers to growth” as necessary-but-not-sufficient conditions that prevent the outcome (growth) to exist. Necessary conditions (necessary causes) can be formulated in two ways:

  • The presence of the condition is necessary for the presence of the outcome (enabler)
  • The absence of the condition is sufficient for the absence of the outcome (bottleneck)

Posted 25 February 2017

New NCA paper shows again: Intelligence is necessary for creativity

A paper by Baoguo Shi et al. from Capital Normal University in Beijing, China confirmed  an earlier finding by Karwowski et al. that intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creativity. The new study was performed in a non-western population with a sample of 568 Chinese children. The paper appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, a well respected open access journal in psychology.

Posted 23 February 2017

NCA publications in 2016

Since the beginning of 2016 when the core paper on NCA was published in Organizational Research Methods, the method was applied in fields such as (industrial) psychology, operations management, information sciences, finance, strategy, entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and human resource management. In published articles NCA is used in different ways:

1. NCA is used as the main logic and method,  as in an article in Intelligence by Karwowski et al. showing that intelligence is necessary for creativity, and in an article in Journal of Purchasing and Supply Managementby by Van der Valk et al. showing that trust and contracts are necessary for successful collaboration between companies for innnovation.  

2. NCA is used as a complement to other methods, as in an article in Transportation Science by De Vries et. al where NCA complements regression analysis, or in a conference paper by  Lesrado et. al where NCA is combined with QCA.    

3. NCA is applied but no necessary conditions are found, as reported in an article by Ruggero, Deflorin, and Scherrer, published in International Journal of Operations and Production Management.

4. NCA's logic and methodology is suggested for future research, as in a meta-analysis on psychological safety by Frazier, Fainshmidt, Klinger, Pezeshkan, and Vracheva published in Personnel Psychology.

A full list of published and working papers in the first and second category can be found here.

Posted 29 December 2016

NCA applied in information systems research

Lester Lasrado,  PhD fellow at the Copenhagen Business School, presented a paper with Ravi Vatrapu and Kim Normann Andersen about "A set theoretical approach to maturity models: guidelines and demonstration" at the ICIS 2016 conference in Dublin, Ireland. This conference is the flagship conference in the field of information systems and information management. The Danish group used NCA, and in particular NCA's bottleneck table, to identify conditions that are necessary for an organization to move from one information system maturity level to the next. For example, for moving from a "high" to a "very high" social media maturity level for business value, it is necessary to have more ICT investments than in previous years, and that top management encourages the use of social media. In addition to NCA's necessity analysis they used QCA's sufficiency analysis to identify alternative (sufficient) paths to reach higher levels of maturity. The conference paper can be found here

Posted 17 December 2016

NCA discussed at QCA expert meeting

Several experts who have published on necessary conditions have attended the 4th International QCA expert meeting in Zurich, Switserland, 7-8 December 2016 to discuss the development of QCA. Gary Goertz argued that cases without the outcome and without the condition can be used for studying necessary causal mechanisms, Barbara Vis (photo) discussed how qualitative data can be transfered into set membership scores, Patrick Mello presented his views on improving robustness of QCA findings, and Jan Dul explained why NCA identifies more necessary conditions than  QCA, and presented the "calibration evaluation tool" that showed the (large) effects of QCA's calibration of original data on QCA's necessity consistency and NCA's necessity effect size. Peer Fiss, one of the leading QCA researchers in management, expressed his appreciation for the growth of NCA and for the calibration evaluation tool. The differences between NCA's and QCA's necessity analysis are discussed on this page.

Posted 10 December 2016

NCA paper presented at Decision Sciences Institute annual meeting

During the annual meeting of the Decision Sciences Institute in Austin, Texas, USA, Fabian Nullmeier presented a paper co authored with Finn Wynstra about necessary conditions in designing and managing performance-based service contracts. They showed that performance measurement is necessary but not sufficient for high buyer satisfaction. The authors added necessary logic to Agency theory and Control theory.

Posted 29 November 2016

NCA complements regression analysis in new paper

A paper by Jelle de Vries et al. on safe and productive truck driving was published in Transportation Research. Part E, a top journal in this field. The authors use NCA to complement their regression analysis in order to explain a surprising result. They found that truck drivers require a certain minimum level of safety consciousness to achieve top productivity results.

Posted 21 November 2016.

NCA paper on necessity of contracts and trust now published

The paper by Wendy van der Valk et al. on the necessity of contracts and trust for innovation in buyer-supplier relationship in now published in the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management.

Posted 20 November 2016.

New NCA course in Hamburg, Germany

On 20 October 2016, a new hands-on short course on NCA will be offered to PhD students at the Helmut-Schmidt-University, Hamburg, Germany. The course consists of a general introduction on NCA logic and methodology, and a clinic where the participants can analyse their own datasets. For more information and registration please contact Sven Hauff.  .    

Posted 16 September 2016

Well attended NCA workshop at the British Academy of Management

More than 30 participants attended the Professional Development Workshop (PDW) on NCA at the 30th annual conference of the British Academy of Management (BAM) in Newcastle, UK. Jan Dul (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University) presented the logic and data analysis approach of NCA, and Zsófia Tóth (Nottingham University Business School) facilitated a discussion amongst the participants about potential necessary condition in their fields. It turned out that participants were able to formulate many potentially relevant necessary conditions in their research fields, confirming Gary Goertz’ first law: “for any research area one can find important necessary condition hypotheses.”

Posted 6 September 2016

NCA paper at Finance conference

José Albuquerque de Sousa, PhD candidate at the Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands presented an NCA-based paper on “Nascent markets: understanding the success and failure of new stock markets” at the European Finance Associaton (EFA) Annual Meeting in Oslo, Norway. The paper, co-authored with Thorsten Beck, Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, and Mathijs A. van Dijk, describes the success and failure of 40 newly established (“nascent”) stock markets since 1974 in their first 40 years of activity.They found that long-term success is mostly determined by early success, and in particular that high initial numbers of listings and trading activity are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for success.

Posted 23 August 2016

PDW on NCA at the British Academy of Management (BAM), Newcastle, UK

On September 6, 2016, a 1.5 hour Professional Development Workshop (PDW) will be held at the 30th annual conference of the British Academy of Management (BAM) in Newcastle, UK. The workshop is organized by by Zsófia Tóth (Nottingham University Business School) and Jan Dul (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University), and is open for all participants of the BAM conference.

More information about time, place and content of the workshop is here. (PDW 5)

Posted 10 August 2016

Successful NCA Workshop at AOM management conference

A Professional Development Workshop (PDW) on NCA was held at the Academy of Management (AOM) annual conference in Anaheim CA, USA. The workshop was attended by more than 40 junior and senior business and management researchers from 17 countries. In a dynamic discussion three topics were addressed: The logic of NCA, The data analysis approach of NCA, and How to publish papers with NCA. One participant commented: "This was the most intersting PDW that I attended in 5 previous AOM conferences!". The slides of the PDW can be found here.

Posted 8 August 2016

Updated 19 August 2016

Most-read paper

NCA's core methodological article 'Necessary Condition Analysis(NCA): Logic and Methodology of ‘‘Necessary but Not Sufficient’’ Causality' (Dul, 2016) has reached the 4th rank of July's most-read papers in Organizational Research Methods. Every month from all about 600 articles that were published in this journal since 1998, Sage -the journal's publisher- lists the 50 most read papers (full text and pdf views) during that month. The top four most-read articles in July were published in 2004, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Posted 3 August 2016

Upcoming NCA Workshop highlighted

In a newletter to its members, the Research Methods (RM) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM) has identified an NCA workshop as a highlight of the upcoming AOM Annual Meeting in Anaheim (5-9 August 2016). The NCA workshop is a three hour Professional Development Workshop (PDW) on August 6, 2016. The RM division sponsors 37 PDW's during this conference and has highlighted two of them. Details of the NCA PDW can be found here, and an invitation to attend is here.

Posted 10 July 2016

NCA paper accepted

A paper by Wendy van der Valk et al. on the necessity of contracts and trust for innovation in buyer-supplier relationship was accepted for publication in the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management. The paper will be published in a Special Issue on novel approaches and methods. The online version of the paper can be found here.

Posted 28 June 2016.

Updated 20 November 2016 (paper published)

NCA summer course 2016

An international group of PhD students with backgrounds in Strategy, Intrapreneurship, Innovation and Operations Management has actively participated in a 2 day NCA summer course of Erasmus University Institute of Management (ERIM) and gained deep understanding of NCA, and the skills to apply the method. They valued the course because a.o. "examples are very valuable to explain the method", the "practice on own dataset", and "there was time and room for discussion". As part of the course, the students are currently working on an NCA paper to be submitted to a conference or journal. The students' comments on the NCA method are included in "What others say about NCA".

Posted 22 June 2016.

PDW on NCA at the Academy of Management, Anaheim, USA

On August 6, 2016, a 3-hour Professional Developement Workshop (PDW) will be held at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management conference in Anaheim, California, USA. The workshop is open for PhD candidates, early career researchers, and other researchers who are interested in NCA and want to get started. After the workshop participants are able to analyse their datasets with NCA and will know how NCA can add rigor and relevance to their theories and publications.

More information about time, place and content of the workshop is here.

Posted 27 May 2016.

New version of NCA Software

Version 2.0 of the R package "NCA" is released. It has a substantially improved user interface. The new Quick Start Guide helps a user without knowledge of R or NCA to get started within 15 minutes. 

Posted 18 May 2016.

NCA at EURAM 2016

At the European Academy of Management Annual Conference in Paris June 1-4, 2016, three papers were presented about NCA.

Gerwin van der Laan (Tilburg University, Netherlands) presented the paper Corporate Social Performance: A Necessary Condition Analysis 

Jan Dul (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands) and James LeBreton (Pennsylvania State University, USA) presented the paper A new methodology for analysing necessary but not sufficient conditions: Comparing NCA with OLS 

Romaric Servajean-Hilst (École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, Île-de-France, France) presented the paper Best and worst practice for governing vertical innovation cooperations, A Necessary Condition Analysis

More information is here.

Posted 12 May 2016.

Updated 2 June 2016.

NCA paper accepted in top psychology journal

A paper by Maciej Karwowski et al. on the relationship between intelligence and creativity (an issue with a history of more than 50 years) was accepted for publication in Intelligence, the lead journal on the psychology of intelligence. The relationship is simple: intelligence is necessary but not sufficient for creativity, based on data from more than 12.000 individuals. The editor commented: "This is a fine paper, employing a novel methodology". The abstract is here.

Posted 26 April 2016.

Updated 19 May 2016 (paper online)

Updated 30 August 2016 (paper published)