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Working capital management and firm profitability: a meta-analysis

Harsh Pratap Singh (Management Studies, Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, India)
Satish Kumar (Management Studies, Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, India)
Sisira Colombage (Faculty of Business, Federation University Australia, Victoria, Australia)

Qualitative Research in Financial Markets

ISSN: 1755-4179

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




The purpose of this study is to quantitatively aggregate the findings of prior literature on the effect of working capital management (WCM) on corporate profitability using the meta-analysis technique developed by Hunter et al. (1982).


A set of 46 research articles that directly studied the relationship between WCM, and profitability was analyzed for the purpose. In addition to overall meta-analysis, a detailed subgroup study was also conducted to test whether the differences in results are due to moderating effects related to different profitability proxies, economic development of a specific country and size of the firms under study.


The findings of this meta-analysis confirm that WCM is negatively associated with profitability, which means an aggressive WCM policy leads to higher profitability. Overall, and in all the subgroup studies, the cash conversion cycle was found to be negatively associated with profitability.


Unlike narrative literature review papers, this meta-analysis provides quantitatively aggregate evidence on the relationship of WCM and firms’ profitability. To the best of authors’ knowledge, no previous meta-analysis paper is published on the topic.



Singh, H.P., Kumar, S. and Colombage, S. (2017), "Working capital management and firm profitability: a meta-analysis", Qualitative Research in Financial Markets, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 34-47.



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