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WP Series » WP Series 2005

Schneider, Carsten and Claudius Wagemann. 2005. "Reducing Complexity in Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA): Remote and Proximate Factors and the Consolidation of Democracy". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-35. Published online 7 November 2005.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\SchneiderWagemann2005.pdf.
NB: Published in European Journal of Political Research, see bibliography

Abstract: Comparative methods based on set theoretic relationships, such as 'fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis' (fs/QCA) represent an useful tool for dealing with complex causal hypotheses in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions under the constraint of a mediumsized number of cases. However, real world research situations might make the application of fs/QCA difficult in two respects, namely, with regard to the complexity of the results and the phenomenon of limited diversity. We suggest a two-step approach as one possibility to mitigate these problems. After introducing the difference between remote and proximate factors, the application of a two-step fs/QCA approach is demonstrated analysing the causes of the consolidation of democracy. We find that different paths lead to consolidation but all of them are characterised by a fit of the institutional mix chosen to the societal context in terms of power dispersion. Hence, we demonstrate that the application of fs/QCA in a twostep manner helps to formulate and test equifinal and conjunctural hypotheses in medium-size N comparative analyses and, thus, to contribute to an enhanced understanding of social phenomena.

Skaaning, Svend-Erik. 2005. "Respect for Civil Liberties in Post-Communist Countries: A Multi-Methodological Test of Structural Explanations". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-34. Published online 12 October 2005.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Skaaning2005.pdf.
NB: Published in Journal of Business Research, see bibliography

Abstract: This paper aims at uncovering factors explaining extent of membership in the group of liberal polities among the post-communist countries. The empirical examination makes use of three methodological tools - crisp-set method, fuzzy-set method, and OLS-regression - associated with two different approaches - diversity-oriented and variable-oriented - to test theoretically different structural conditions/variables supposed to facilitate the development of civil liberties. Six factors are included in the analysis: ethno-religious diversity, natural resources, early development, and three modernization indicators, i.e., GDP/cap., education and agricultural employment. The results diverge considerable between different approaches, but minimally between the QCA methods connected to the same approach. The OLS-regression shows that early development, ethnic diversity, and education are significantly correlated with civil liberty; education, though, not in the theoretically expected direction. On the other hand, the crisp-set analysis, using logical cases in the reduction procedure, points out early developed and not early developed as a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence and absence of a liberal regime, respectively. Finally, the fuzzy-set analysis, very similarly, emphasizes early development as a sufficient condition for liberal regimes in the post-communist context, if an inclusion of all simplifying assumptions is allowed, and three paths to a not liberal regime are uncovered, that is, the conjunction of the necessary condition not early developed with either not wealthy, not independent of natural resources, or not low agricultural employment rate. Thus, early development is undoubtedly identified as the most important factor in the explanation of the respect for civil liberty in post-communist countries. Regarding the QCA methods, they appear to be valuable supplements and at times even alternatives to standard statistical tests - the fuzzy-set method probably somewhat more than the crisp-set method - especially when the case number is rather low and when the relationship between the phenomenon to be explained and the explanatory factors is characterized by multiple conjunctural causation and necessity and/or sufficiency.

Haege, Frank M. 2005. "Constructivism, Fuzzy Sets and (Very) Small-N: Revisiting the Conditions for Communicative Action". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-33. Published online 29 August 2005.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Haege2005.pdf.
NB: Published in Journal of Business Research

Abstract: In this paper, it is argued that the fuzzy set approach can engage in a fruitful liaison with constructivist research. There are several important properties of fuzzy set analysis that overlap with constructivist theorizing and research practice. To demonstrate the usefulness of the approach, Niemann's study on the conditions for communicative action is replicated and re-interpreted using fuzzy sets. The result is an improvement of the informational content, the precision and the validity of conclusions drawn from the empirical analysis. Furthermore, the re-interpretation points to theoretical and conceptual issues that need more consideration in future research.

Clement, Caty. 2005. "The Nuts and Bolts of State Collapse: Common Causes and Different Patterns? A QCA Analysis of Lebanon, Somalia and the former-Yugoslavia". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-32. Published online 7 July 2005.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Clement2005.pdf.

Abstract: This paper is the result of a research project designed to address two questions: 'why' do states collapse and 'how' do they collapse? Rather than testing existing theories (largely non existent), this paper suggests a new model. The first issue, the causes of state collapse, has been the focus of in depth research over the recent years. The bulk of the comparative work came through large N studies focussing on long-term structural conditions and often resulting in long shopping lists of indicators. Instead, this research develops a concise set of four core causes (rather than indicators) based on in-depth country research (small n) using 'soft' qualitative data (quantitative being often unreliable and constraining the research).

Goertz, Gary and Jack S. Levy. 2005. "Causal Explanations, Necessary Conditions, and Case Studies: World War I and the End of the Cold War". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-31. Published online 18 March 2005.
NB: published in a monograph edited by the authors: Causal Explanations, Necessary Conditions, and Case Studies: World War I and the End of the Cold War.

Abstract: Our focus in this anthology is on how scholars often use a certain family of causal explanations in their analyses of historical events, such as World War I and the end of the Cold War. The next chapter by Goertz and Levy serves as a survey of the various ways necessary condition counterfactuals appear in the literature on the causes of World War I and the end of the Cold War. We do not pretend to cover exhaustively these massive debates, but we have chosen prominent scholars whose work illustrates the various aspects of our central theme. While the idea of a necessary condition is simple, they show that there are extensive ramifications for research design, theory, and causal explanations. Although necessary condition counterfactuals are the central focus of this volume, not all of the contributors agree that the concept is a useful one. In particular, Brooks and Wohlforth (chapter 9) argue that probabilistic approaches to explanation and causation are more useful. Thompson worries that an emphasis on necessary and sufficient condition causation will detract from the goal of evaluating the relative causal weights of different factors (see Goertz and Starr 2002 for a discussion of these two issues). So while Goertz and Levy show that the necessary condition explanatory strategy is widespread, this does not necessarily mean that it is without problems or those other alternative strategies do not exist.

Fiss, Peer C. 2005. "A Set-Theoretic Approach to Organizational Configurations". COMPASSS WP Series 2005-30. Published online 14 January 2005.
Available from: http:\\www.compasss.org\wpseries\Fiss2005.pdf.
NB: Published in Academy of Management Review

Abstract: I argue that research on organizational configurations has been limited by a mismatch between theory and methods. While configurational theory stresses nonlinearity, synergistic effects, and equifinality, empirical research has largely drawn on methods that assume linearity, additive effects, and unifinality. I introduce set-theoretic methods as a viable alternative for overcoming this mismatch. Set-theoretic methods conceptualize cases as combinations of attributes and use Boolean algebra to derive simplified expressions of combinations that lead to a specific outcome. I demonstrate the value of such methods for studying organizational configurations and discuss their applicability for examining equifinality and limited diversity among configurations, as well as their relevance to other research fields such as complementarities theory, complexity theory, and the resource-based view.


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