Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Institution: see Organisers & Supporters

Programme of study: International Research Workshop

Lecturer: Dr. Jonas Buche (Leibniz University Hannover)

Date: see Workshop Programme

Max. number of participants: 20

Credit Points: 5 CP for participating in the whole IRWS

Language of instruction: English

Contents: Since publishing the seminal work “The Comparative Method” by Charles Ragin in 1987, set-theoretic methods and especially Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) have become a common research strategy in the social sciences. Set-theoretic methods analyse cases concerning identifying sufficient and necessary conditions and assume set relations to be equifinal, conjunctural and asymmetric. Not least, since so-called fuzzy sets have been introduced to the method, there has been a rising interest in QCA as a welcome alternative to both small-n case studies and large-n statistical analyses. In short, QCA is recommended if ‘if…then’ hypotheses are analysed, if the goal is to derive sufficient and necessary conditions, if a comparison is planned, and if there is a mid-sized number of cases (between 10 and 60+).

The course offers a comprehensive introduction to QCA and is both conceptually and technically oriented. It starts off with an overview of the basics of set theory and demarcates QCA as a case-oriented method from both the quantitative and the interpretive-qualitative research paradigm. The single elements are built into the Truth Table Algorithm through the notion of necessary and sufficient conditions and truth tables. However, this algorithm is not free of problems. Therefore, some pitfalls and strategies on how to overcome them are presented. The software tool fsQCA will be introduced and applied to published studies on the third day.

A requirement of students: No prior knowledge is required. We will use the software fsQCA2.5, which can be downloaded at www.fsqca.com.

Recommended literature and pre-readings:

You have to register for the International Research Workshop to participate in this course.