Sebastian Dellepiane Avellaneda is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where he teaches political economy and research methods. His research interests include governance and development, policy credibility and economic institutions, the new politics of austerity and economic crises, macro models of party competition, and the role of case studies in comparative research.
Cases studies continue to constitute a large proportion of work generated in the social sciences. Similarly, case study research is increasingly used as a tool for policy analysis. However, the logic and the comparative merits of this approach are often unappreciated. This course stresses the role of case studies in social science methodology and provides an overview of the principles and practices of case-study analysis.
The course consists of ten sessions, each composed of lectures, seminar discussions and group based workshops. We will begin by discussing what a case study is and what it is good for. We will then look at research design, confronting the practical problems of crafting theory-driven and policy-relevant case studies. In the following sessions, we will address the critical issue of case selection and evaluate techniques for choosing cases. After that, we will deal with methods of data collection, including tools for combining qualitative and quantitative sources (e.g. triangulation). The reminder of the course will be dedicated to reviewing approaches for establishing causality (e.g. process tracing, counterfactuals, social experiments) and maximising the leverage of small-n comparisons (e.g. increasing observations, nested analysis, analytic narratives). During this course, students will engage with state-of-the-art applications of case studies drawn from a variety of disciplines and discuss the potential contributions of case study methods to their own research projects.
This course assumes a familiarity with a social science discipline and some basic knowledge of qualitative research methods.
Representative Background Reading
Beach and Pedersen (2016), Causal Case Study Methods, University of Michigan Press.
Brady et al. (2008), The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, OUP.
Brady and Collier (eds) (2010), Rethinking Social Inquiry (Second edition), Rowman & Littlefield.
Goertz and Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences, Princeton University Press.
Rohlfing (2012), Case studies and Causal Inference, Palgrave.
Sprinz and Wolinsky-Nahmias (eds) (2004), Models, Numbers & Cases, University of Michigan Press
Yin (2013), Case Study Research: Design and methods (Fifth edition), Sage.
Gerring, J. 2016. Case Study Research: Principles and practices (Second edition). CUP.
George, A. and Bennett, A. 2005. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. MIT Press.
This outline provides an overview of the content of this module. Interactive seminars and group discussions are core components of the course. This means that students are expected to do some intensive reading before seminars. Essential readings are marked with (*) and these are the ones which students should read before each session. At least, you must read one methodological article/chapter and one case study application for each class. You are also strongly encouraged to bring into the discussion issues and examples from your own research agenda. Core readings will be made available through the Summer School office.
Session 1: Cases studies in comparative research Strategies in comparative research; methodological trade-offs between large-n and small-n studies; theory-oriented case studies; comparative case studies; single-country studies as comparisons; bridging the quantitative-qualitative divide; policy-relevant case studies; potential contributions to students’ research projects
Recommended readings (*) Landman (2008), Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics, Routledge, chs. 1&2. Gerring (2016), Case Study Research (Second edition), Cambridge University Press, ch. 1. Ragin (2004), The Comparative Method: Moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strategies, University of California Press, chs. 1&3. Rueschemeyer (2003), ‘Can One or a Few Cases Yield Theoretical Gains?’ in Mahoney and Rueschemeyer, eds, Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press, ch. 9. Vennesson (2008), ‘Case Studies and Process Tracing: Theories and practices’, in Della Porta and Keating, eds, Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press, ch. 12. van Evera (1997), Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science, Cornell University Press, ch. 2. Eckstein (1975), ‘Case Studies and Theory in Political Science’ in Greenstein and Polsby, eds, Handbook of Political Science, Addison-Wesley. Applications: Strategies in comparative research (*) Landman (2006), Studying Human Rights, Routledge, ch. 4.
Session 2: What is a case study and what is it good for? The paradox of case studies; what is a case study?; alternative definitions; the N question: cases versus observations; what is a case study good for?; strengths and weaknesses of case studies; methodological affinities of case and cross-case research designs; the case for case studies in different disciplines
Recommended readings (*) Gerring (2004), ‘What is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?’ American Political Science Review 98 (2): 341-354. (*) Bennett (2004), ‘Case Study Methods: Design, use, and comparative advantages’ in Sprinz and Wolinsky-Nahmias, Models, Numbers & Cases, University of Michigan Press, ch. 2. (*) Flyvbjerg (2006), Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research, Qualitative Inquiry 12(2): 219-245. Gerring (2007/2016), Case Study Research, chs. 1&2. George and Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences, MIT Press, ch. 1. Yin (2013), Case Study Research, ch 1. Applications: The case for case studies in different disciplines (*) Alston (2005), ‘The Case for Case Studies in Political Economy’, The Political Economist 12 (4). Jensen and Rodgers (2001), ‘Cumulating the Intellectual Gold of Case Study Research’, Public Administration Review 61 (2): 236-246. Odell (2004), ‘Case Study Methods in International Political Economy’ in Sprinz and Wolinsky-Nahmias, Models, Numbers & Cases.
Session 3: Research design principles & components The importance of research design; major components of research design; the research question; the theory; the data; the use of the data; designing case study research; the method of structured-focused comparison; lessons from classic works
Recommended readings (*) King, Keohane and Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton University Press, ch. 1., section 1.2 ‘Major components of research design’. (*) George and Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, ch. 4. Gerring (2016), Case Study Research, ch. 7. Collier et al (2010), ‘The Quest for Standards, in Brady and Collier, eds., Rethinking Social Inquiry (Second edition), ch. 2. Munck (1998), ‘Canons of Research Design in Qualitative Analysis’, Studies in Comparative International Development 33: 18-45. Gibbert et al (2008), ‘What Passes as a Rigorous Case Study?’ Strategic Management Journal 29: 1465-1474. Geddes (2003), Paradigms and Sand Castles, University of Michigan Press, ch. 2. Applications: Lessons from classic research designs (*) Allison and Zelikow (2004), Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, in Yin, ed., The Case Study Anthology, Sage, ch. 2. George and Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, appendix: ‘Studies that illustrate research design’.
Session 4: Alternative research-design templates Key methodological debates on research design; alternative design frameworks; the pivotal role of theory: deduction vs induction; assessing theory-driven data-driven strategies; guidelines for improving participants’ research designs
Recommended readings (*) Mitchell and Bernauer (2004), ‘Beyond Story-Telling: Designing case study research in international environmental policy’, in Models, Numbers & Cases, ch. 4. Eisenhardt (1989), ‘Building Theories from Case Study Research’, Academy of Management Review 14: 532-50. Yin (2013), Case Study Research, ch. 2. Applications: (*) Putnam (1993), Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton University Press, ch. 1. (*) Flyvbjerg (1998), Rationality & Power, University of Chicago Press, ch. 1
Session 5: Case selection and selection bias The problem of case selection in small-n research; case selection and the logic of inference; critical issues and methodological debates on selection bias; selecting cases on the dependent variable; examples of case selection strategies in comparative research
Recommended readings (*) Geddes (2003), Paradigm and Sand Castles, ch. 3: ‘How the cases you choose affect the answers you get’ (originally published in 1990 in Political Analysis 2, pp. 131-50). Collier (1995), ‘Translating Quantitative Methods for Qualitative Researchers: The Case of Selection Bias’, American Political Science Review 89(2): 461-466. Collier and Mahoney (1996), ‘Insights and Pitfalls: Selection Bias in Qualitative Work’, World Politics, 49 (1): 59 Collier, Mahoney and Seawright (2004), ‘Claiming too Much: Warnings about Selection Bias’ in Brady and Collier, Rethinking Social Inquiry. King, Keohane and Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, pp. 128-138. Applications: Case selection in practice (*) Lijphart (1968), The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and democracy in the Netherlands, University of California Press. Skocpol (1979), States and Social Revolutions, CUP, ch 1.
Session 6: Techniques for choosing cases Approaches to case selection; techniques for choosing cases; typical, extreme, deviant and influential cases; crucial cases and hypothesis testing; most-likely and least-likely cases; most-similar and most-different research designs; practical advice on how to choose cases and how to justify a case selection strategy
Recommended readings (*) Gerring (2007), Case Study Research, ch. 5. (*) Tarrow (2010), ‘The Strategy of Paired Comparison: Toward a theory of practice’, Comparative Political Studies, 43(2): 230-59. Seawright and Gerring (2008), ‘Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Qualitative Options’, Political Research Quarterly 61(2): 294-308 Gerring (2016), Case Study Research, ch. 3. Goertz and Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, ch. 14. Mahoney and Goertz (2004), ‘The Possibility Principle: Choosing negative cases in comparative research’, American Political Science Review, 98 (4): 653-69. Gerring (2007), ‘Is There a (Viable) Crucial-Case Method?’ Comparative Political Studies 40 (3): 231-253. Applications: Case selection in practice (*) Roniger and Sznajder (1999), The Legacy of Human Rights Violations in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Oxford University Press, Introduction. (*) Joppke (2007), ‘Transformation of Immigrant Integration: Civic integration and antidiscrimination in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, World Politics 2: 243-273, Introduction. Risse et al. (1999), The Power of Human Rights, Cambridge University Press.
Session 7: Collecting and analysing evidence Sources of evidence in case study research; principles and methods of data collection/data analysis; pros and cons of alternative data collection/analysis strategies; two core data issues: observable implications and triangulation
Recommended readings (*) Yin (2013), Case Study Research, ch. 4&5. (*) Tarrow (2004), ‘Bridging the Quantitative-Qualitative Divide’ in Brady and Collier, Rethinking Social Inquiry, ch. 10. (*) Rathbun (2008), ‘Interviewing and Qualitative Field Methods: Pragmatism and practicalities’, in Brady et al, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 29. King, Keohane and Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, ch. 1, pp. 23-28. Gerring (2016), Case Study Research (Second edition), ch 8. Della Porta, ed. (2014), Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, Oxford University Press, various chapters. Bryman (2012), Social Research Methods (Fourth edition), OUP, part III Applications: Triangulation in practice (*) Snow and Anderson (1991), ‘Researching the Homeless: The Characteristic Features and Virtues of the Case Study’, in Feagin et al., A Case for the Case Study. Ayoub et al. (2014), ‘Triangulation in Social Movement Research’, in Della Porta (2014), ed., Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, ch. 4.
Session 8: Mixed methods & nested analysis The rise of the mixed-methods research paradigm; logic and types of multi-method designs; mixing methods in case studies: promises and pitfalls; example: the use of mixed methods in impact evaluation; nested analysis: principles and applications
Recommended readings Mixed methods: (*) Poteete et al. (2010), Working Together: Collective action, the commons, and multiple methods in practice, Princeton University Press, chs. 1&2. (*) White (2008), ‘Of Probits and Participation: The Use of Mixed Methods in Quantitative Impact Evaluation’, IDS Bulletin 39(1): 98-109 Seawright (2016), Multi-Method Social Science: Combining qualitative and quantitative tools, Cambridge University Press, chs. 1&8. Collier and Elman (2008), ‘Qualitative and Multimethod Research: Organizations, Publications, and Reflections on Integration’, in Brady et al, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 34. Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004), ‘Mixed Methods: A research paradigm whose time has come’, Educational Researcher 33: 14-26. Mayoux (2006), ‘Quantitative, Qualitative or Participatory? Which Method, for What and When, in Desai and Vendana, Doing Development Research (available as Google Book). Bryman (2007), ‘Barriers to Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1(1): 8-22. Mahoney and Goertz (2006), ‘A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research’, Political Analysis 14: 227-249. Nested analysis: Methodology: (*) Lieberman (2005), ‘Nested Analysis as a Mixed Method Strategy for Comparative Research’, American Political Science Review 99: 435-452. Application: (*) Bush (2011), ‘International Politics and the Spread of Quotas for Women in Legislatures’, International Organization 65: 103-37. Critique: Rohlfing (2008), ‘What You See and What You Get: Pitfalls and principles of nested analysis in comparative research’, Comparative Political Studies 41(11): 1492-1514.
Session 9: Process tracing The logic and leverage of within-case analysis; process tracing and causal inference; types of process-tracing designs; best practices and potential applications; process tracing the evolution and influence of policy ideas
Recommended readings (*) Beach and Pedersen (2013) Process-Tracing: Foundations and Guidelines, The University of Michigan Press, chs 1 and 2 (*) Goertz and Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, chs. 7&8. (*) Jacobs (2014) ‘Process tracing the effects of ideas’, in Bennett and Checkel, eds, Process Tracing: From metaphor to analytic tool, Cambridge University Press, ch. 2. Beach and Pedersen (2016), Causal Case Study Analysis, ch. 9. Bennett and Checkel, eds. (2014) Process Tracing: From metaphor to analytic tool, ch. 1. Bennett (2008), ‘Process Tracing: A Bayesian Perspective, in Brady et al. The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 30. Bennett (2010), ‘Process Tracing and Causal Inference’, in Brady and Collier, eds., Rethinking Social Inquiry (Second edition), ch. 10. Collier (2011), ‘Understanding Process Tracing’, Political Science and Politics 44(4): 823:30. George and Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, ch. 10. Gerring (2007), Case Study Research, ch. 7.
Session 10: New directions in case study methods Other tools for increasing the leverage of case study analysis; counterfactuals; social and natural experiments; raising the number of observations; new developments and current debates in case study methodology
Recommended readings Counterfactuals: (*) Levy (2008), ‘Counterfactuals and Case Studies’, in Brady et al, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 27. Goertz and Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, ch 9. Fearon (1991), ‘Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science’, World Politics 43 (2): 169-195. Morgan and Winship (2014), Counterfactuals and Causal Inference, Cambridge University Press. Gerring (2007), ch 6 ‘Internal validity: an experimental template‘ Social and natural experiments: (*) Morton and Williams (2008), ‘Experimentation in Political Science’, in Brady et al. The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 14. (*) Gerber and Green (2008), ‘Field Experiments and Natural Experiments’, in Brady et al. The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch. 15. Poteete et al. (2010), Working Together: Collective action, the commons, and multiple methods in practice, Princeton University Press, ch. 6. Dunning, T. (2012), Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press. Increasing the number of observations: King, Keohane and Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, ch. 6. Applications: Increasing leverage in practice (*) Tsai (2007), ‘Solidarity Groups, Informal Accountability and Local Public Goods Provision in Rural China’, American Political Science Review 101 (2): 355-372 (*) Wantchekon (2003), ‘Clientelism and Voting Behavior: Evidence from a field experiment in Benin’, World Politics 55: 399-422 McGinnity et al (2009), ‘Discrimination in Recruitment: Evidence from a Field Experiment’, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Dublin Brady (2004), ‘Data-Set Observations versus Causal-Process Observations: The 2000 US Presidential Election’, in Brady and Collier, eds, Rethinking Social Inquiry Abadie and Gardeazabal (2003), ‘The Economic Costs of Conflict: A case study of the Basque country’, American Economic Review (March): 113-32 Diamond and Robinson (2011), Natural Experiments in History, Belknap Press. New directions in case study methodology: Goertz and Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, ch. 17. APSA (2013), ‘Symposium: A New Wave of Qualitative Research’, Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, 11(1): 1-32. Gerring (2016), Case Study Research (Second edition), chs. 1&11. Beach and Pedersen (2016), Causal Case Study Analysis, ch. 10.
Case Study Methods Resources in the Internet
APSA’s Qualitative and Multi-Methods Section, https://www.maxwell.syr.edu/moynihan/cqrm/APSA_s_Qualitative_and_Multi-Method_Research_Section/
APSA’s Qualitative Methods Newsletters, https://www.maxwell.syr.edu/moynihan/cqrm/Newsletters/
Center for Qualitative and Multi-Method Inquiry, https://www.maxwell.syr.edu/cqmi.aspx
John Gerring’s blog, http://blogs.bu.edu/jgerring/methodology/
Andrew Bennett’s webpage, http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/bennetta/?action=viewgeneral&PageTemplateID=360
Beach and Pedersen on process tracing, https://www.press.umich.edu/2556282/process_tracing_methods
Yin’s Sage webpage, https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/author/robert-k-yin