Please note: This course will be delivered in person at the Colchester campus. Online study is not available for this course.

dellepiane

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.

Course Content
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.

Course Objectives
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.

Course Prerequisites
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.

Recommended Texts
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.

 

Course Outline

This outline provides an overview of the content of this module. 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. In general, 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 themes and examples from your own research area. Core readings will be made available via our shared folder. 

Literature on Case Studies

This course does not rely on a single textbook. The idea is to reflect the breadth and depth of case study methodology as well as the diversity of the qualitative tradition. We are strongly committed to methodological pluralism and inclusion. We will engage a variety of methodological works & applications from different authors, disciplines, persuasions. Participants are also invited to bring up their own perspectives to the debates (including new methodological angles and novel applications).

That said, the following texts on case studies & qualitative research may be useful:

Gerring, John (2017), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Second edition), Cambridge University Press.

George, A. & Bennett, A. (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, MIT Press.

Yin, R. (2017), Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods (Sixth edition), Sage.

Brady, H. & Collier, D. (2010), Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (Second edition), Rowman & Littlefield.

Goertz, G. & Mahoney, J. (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences, Princeton University Press.

Elman, C., Gerring, J. & Mahoney, J. eds. (2021), The Production of Knowledge: Enhancing Progress in Social Science, Cambridge University Press.

Leavy, P., ed. (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (Second edition), Oxford University Press. 

Session 1. Case studies in comparative research

Core questions

  • What are the alternative strategies in comparative research?
  • What are the methodological trade-offs between large-n and small-n studies?
  • Can case studies be ‘analytical’? ‘Comparative’? ‘Quantitative’? ‘Policy-relevant’?
  • How can a better understanding of the principles and practices of case study methods contribute to participants’ research projects?

Recommended readings

(*) Gerring (2017), ‘Qualitative Methods’, Annual Review of Political Science, 20: 15-36.

Landman (2008), Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics, Routledge, ch.2.

Eckstein (1975), ‘Case Studies and Theory in Political Science’ in Greenstein and Polsby, eds, Handbook of Political Science, Addison-Wesley.

Gerring (2017), Case Study Research (Second edition), Cambridge University Press, ch.1.

Ragin (2004), The Comparative Method, University of California Press, chs.1&3.

Rueschemeyer (2003), ‘Can One or a Few Cases Yield Theoretical Gains?’ in Mahoney & Rueschemeyer, eds, Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press, ch.9.

Vennesson (2008), ‘Case Studies and Process Tracing’, in Della Porta & Keating, eds, Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press.

van Evera (1997), Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science, Cornell University Press, ch.2.

Applications

(*) Landman (2006), Studying Human Rights, Routledge, ch.4.

Session 2. What is a case study?

Core questions

  • What is the status (reputation) of case study methodology across the social sciences?
  • What are the competing narratives about the merits (value) of case studies?
  • What is actually a case study? (and what is not a case study?)
  • What is the essence of case study analysis? And what are its key features?
  • What explains the “return” of the single-country (or single-unit) study?

Recommended readings

(*) Flyvbjerg (2006), Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research, Qualitative Inquiry 12(2): 219-245. 

(*) Pepinsky (2019), ‘The Return of the Single-Country Study’, Annual Review of Political Science 22: 187-203.

(*) Emmons & Moravcsik (2020), ‘Graduate Qualitative Methods Training in Political Science: A Disciplinary Crisis’, PS: Political Science & Politics 53(2).

Bennett (2004), ‘Case Study Methods: Design, use, and comparative advantages’ in Sprinz and Wolinsky-Nahmias, Models, Numbers & Cases, University of Michigan Press, ch.2.

Gerring (2007/2017), Case Study Research, chs.1&2.

George & Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences, MIT Press, ch.1.

Mahoney & Goertz (2006), ‘A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research, Political Analysis 14: 227-249. 

Simons (2020), ‘Case Study Research: In-depth understanding in context’, in Leavy (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (Second edition), OUP.

 Yin (2013/2017), Case Study Research, ch1.

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 & 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. What are case studies good for?

Core questions

  • What are case studies really good for?
  • What are the distinctive strengths & expected contributions of case study research?
  • And what are case studies not so good for? What are the main methodological limitations?
  • What are the main trade-offs & methodological affinities of case (‘intensive’) and cross-case (‘extensive’) research designs?
  • How can we exploit the leverage (relative merits) of case studies in practice?

 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.

Gerring (2007/2017), Case Study Research, chs.1&2.

George & Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences, MIT Press, ch.1.

Mahoney & Goertz (2006), ‘A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research, Political Analysis 14: 227-249.

Simons (2020), ‘Case Study Research: In-depth understanding in context’, in Leavy (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (Second edition), OUP.

Yin (2013/2017), Case Study Research, ch1.

Applications: The case for case studies in different disciplines

(*) Bennett, A. & Elman, C. (2007), ‘Case Study Methods in the International Relations Subfield’, Comparative Political Studies 40(2): 170-195.

Session 4. Research design I: issues, components & tasks

Core questions

  • What are the major issues & components of research design?
  • What are the different ‘types’ of case studies? (e.g. the ‘heuristic case study’)
  • What are the main research tasks (steps) in case study research?
  • What are the quality criteria (standards) in qualitative research?
  • What are the key insights (lessons) from classic works?

Recommended readings

(*) George & Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, ch.4.

(*) Tracy, S. (2010), ‘Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research’, Qualitative Inquiry 16: 837-51.

King, Keohane & Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton University Press, ch.1., section 1.2 ‘Major components of research design’.

Gerring (2017), 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.

Thomas, G. (2021), How to Do Your Case Study, Sage.

Applications: Lessons from classic research designs

(*) Allison & Zelikow (2004), Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, in Yin, ed., The Case Study Anthology, Sage, ch. 2.

George & Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, Appendix: ‘Studies that illustrate research design’.

Session 5. Research design II: deductive & inductive strategies  

Core questions

  • What are the alternative case-study design ‘templates’?
  • How should theory be used in a case study design?
  • What is the difference between deductive and inductive strategies?
  • What are the key methodological issues and practical steps involved in designing a theory-driven case study?
  • And how about theory-building case studies?
  • Is there any other alternative?

Recommended readings

(*) Mitchell & 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.

(*) Eisenhardt (2021), ‘What is the Eisenhardt Method, really?’ Strategic Organization 19(1): 147-160.

Gerring (2017), Case Study Research (Second edition), chs.7&8.

Yin (2013), Case Study Research, ch.2.

Applications

(*) Flyvbjerg (1998), Rationality & Power, University of Chicago Press, ch.1 

Putnam (1993), Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton University Press, ch.1.

Session 6. Case selection

Core questions

  • Is ‘selection bias’ always an issue in small-n research? Or can strategic case selection be a source of leverage rather than bias?
  • What are the different approaches to case selection? How should cases be chosen?
  • What are the logic & merits of ‘paired comparisons’?
  • And how about ‘typical’, ‘deviant’, ‘extreme’ and ‘influential’ cases?
  • Can ‘crucial cases’ be actually used for hypothesis testing?
  • Are ‘mixed’ selection strategies useful/feasible?
  • How should a case selection strategy be justified?

Recommended readings

(*) Seawright & Gerring (2008), ‘Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Qualitative Options’, Political Research Quarterly 61(2): 294-308.

(*) Tarrow (2010), ‘The Strategy of Paired Comparison: Toward a theory of practice’, Comparative Political Studies, 43(2): 230-59.

(*) Gerring & Cojocaru (2016), ‘Selecting cases for intensive analysis: A diversity of goals and methods’, Sociological Methods & Research  45(3): 392-423.

Beach & Pedersen (2016), ‘Selecting Appropriate Cases When Tracing Causal Mechanisms’, Sociological Methods & Research, 1-35.

Geddes (2003), Paradigm and Sand Castles, ch.3: ‘How the cases you choose affect the answers you get’ (originally published in Political Analysis, 1990, 2, pp. 131-50).

Gerring (2007), Case Study Research, ch.5.

Gerring (2017), Case Study Research, chs. 3-6.

Gerring (2007), ‘Is There a (Viable) Crucial-Case Method?’ Comparative Political Studies 40 (3): 231-253.

Gisselquist (2014) ‘Paired comparison and theory development: Considerations for case selection’, PS: Political Science & Politics 47: 477-484.

Small (2009), ‘How Many Cases Do I Need’: On science and the logic of case selection in field-based research’, Ethnography 10: 5-38.

Applications: Case selection in practice

(*) Beland & Lecours (2005), ‘The Politics of Territorial Solidarity: Nationalism and social policy in Canada, the UK and Belgium’, Comparative Political Studies 38: 676-603.

(*) Joppke (2007), ‘Transformation of Immigrant Integration: Civic integration and antidiscrimination in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, World Politics 2: 243-273.

Roniger & Sznajder (1999), The Legacy of Human Rights Violations in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Oxford University Press, Introduction.

Anderson (1983/2006), Imagined Communities, Verso.

Session 7. Data issues: observable implications & triangulation

Core questions

  • What are the main sources of evidence in case study research?
  • What are the pros and cons of alternative empirical strategies (e.g. interviews)?
  • What do we mean by “observable implications”? Why are observable implications so critical in case study research?
  • What are the principles and practices of “triangulation”?
  • How should I develop a solid triangulation strategy?

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 & Verba (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, ch.1, pp. 23-28.

Gerring (2017), 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

Ayoub et al. (2014), ‘Triangulation in Social Movement Research’, in  Della Porta (2014), ed.,  Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, ch.4.

Snow & Anderson (1991), ‘Researching the Homeless: The Characteristic Features and Virtues of the Case Study’, in Feagin et al., A Case for the Case Study.

Session 8. Mixed methods & nested analysis

Core questions

  • What explains the rise of the mixed-methods agenda?
  • Why mixing up methods? What are the promises and potential pitfalls?
  • And what are the main types of multi-methods designs?
  • How can mixed methods be used in impact evaluation?
  • What are the principles and practices of nested analysis?

Recommended readings

On 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.

Gerring (2017), Case Study Research (Second edition), ch.7.

Goertz & Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and quantitative research in the social sciences, Princeton University Press, ch.1.

Elman et al. (2016), ‘Case study research: Putting the quant into the qual’, Sociological Methods & Research 45(3): 375-391.

Seawright (2016), Multi-Method Social Science, Cambridge University Press, chs.1&8.

Collier & Elman (2008), ‘Qualitative and Multimethod Research’, in Brady et al, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch.34.

Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004), ‘Mixed Methods: A research paradigm whose time has come’, Educational Researcher 33: 14-26.

Bryman (2007), ‘Barriers to Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1(1): 8-22.

Small (2011) ‘How to Conduct a Mixed Methods Study: Recent trends in a rapidly growing literature’, American Review of Sociology 37: 56-86.

On 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.

Another application: Szulecki et al. (2011) ‘Explaining Variation in the Effectiveness of Transnational Energy Partnerships’, Governance 24: 713-36.

A critique: Rohlfing (2008), ‘What You See and What You Get: Pitfalls and principles of nested analysis in comparative research’, Comparative Political Studies 41: 1492-1514.

Session 9. Process tracing

Core questions

  • What explains the growing interest in causal inference and within-case analysis?
  • What is process tracing? What are the different variants of process-tracing research?
  • How should a process-tracing case study be designed?
  • What are the best practices and potential applications of process tracing?
  • How can we study the influence of policy ideas using process tracing?

Recommended readings

(*) Beach & Pedersen (2011) ‘What is process-tracing actually tracing? The three variants of process tracing methods and their uses and limitations’, APSA 2011 Annual Meeting.

(*) 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.

(*) Hoelscher & Nussio (2016), ‘Understanding Unlikely Successes in Urban Violence Reduction’, Urban Studies 53: 2397-2416.

(*) Dellepiane-Avellaneda (2014), ‘The Political Power of Economic Ideas: The case of “expansionary fiscal contractions”’, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 17(3).

Beach & Pedersen (2019) Process-Tracing Methods: Foundations and Guidelines (Second edition), The University of Michigan Press, chs.1&2.

Collier (2011), ‘Understanding Process Tracing’, Political Science and Politics 44(4): 823:30.

Bennett & Checkel (2014) Process Tracing: From metaphor to analytic tool, ch.1.

Bennett (2010), ‘Process Tracing and Causal Inference’, in Brady and Collier, eds., Rethinking Social Inquiry (Second edition), ch.10.

George & Bennett (2005), Case Studies and Theory Development, ch.10.

Gerring (2007), Case Study Research, ch.7.

Goertz & Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, chs.7&8.

LeGreco & Tracy (2009) ‘Discourse tracing as qualitative practice’, Qualitative Inquiry 9: 1516-43.   

Session 10. Issues, challenges & new directions in case study methods

Core questions

  • What are the other tools for increasing the leverage of case studies?
  • What is the logic and added value of counterfactuals?
  • How can case studies integrate social & natural experiments?
  • And how about increasing the number of observations? Is this always a good idea?
  • What are the new issues & directions in case study methodology?
  • What are the lessons regarding the art of writing up case studies?
  • And what are the challenges involved in publishing case study research?

Recommended readings

New directions in case study methodology:

Emmons & Moravcsik (2020), ‘Graduate Qualitative Methods Training in Political Science: A Disciplinary Crisis’, PS: Political Science & Politics 53(2).

Goertz & Mahoney (2012), A Tale of Two Cultures, ch.17.

Gerring (2016), Case Study Research (Second edition), chs.1&11.

Gerring (2017), ‘Qualitative Methods’, Annual Review of Political Science, 20: 15-36.

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.

Beach & Pedersen (2016), Causal Case Study Analysis, ch.10.

Leavy (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (Second edition), Oxford University Press, various chapters.

On counterfactuals:

(*) Levy (2008), ‘Counterfactuals and Case Studies’, in Brady et al, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch.27.

Goertz & 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 & Winship (2014), Counterfactuals and Causal Inference, Cambridge University Press.

Gerring (2007), ch 6 ‘Internal validity: an experimental template‘

On social and natural experiments:

(*) Morton & Williams (2008), ‘Experimentation in Political Science’, in Brady et al. The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ch.14.

Gerber & 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, Princeton University Press, ch.6.

Dunning (2012), Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences, Cambridge University Press.

On 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 & Robinson (2011), Natural Experiments in History, Belknap Press.

Case Study Methods 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