Social phenomena can rarely be attributed to single causes—instead, they typically stem from a myriad of interwoven factors that are often difficult to untangle. Drawing on set theory and the language of necessary and sufficient conditions, however, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) is ideally suited to capturing this causal complexity. A case-based research method, QCA regards cases as combinations of conditions and compares the conditions of each case in a structured way to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for an outcome.
The book "Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application" is a comprehensive guide to QCA. As QCA becomes increasingly popular across the social sciences, this textbook teaches students, scholars, and self-learners the fundamentals of the method, research design, interpretation of results, and how to communicate findings.
Following an ideal typical research cycle, the book's ten chapters cover the methodological basis and analytical routine of QCA, as well as matters of research design, causation and causal complexity, QCA variants, and the method's reception in the social sciences. A comprehensive glossary helps to clarify the meaning of frequently used terms. The book is complemented by an accessible online R manual to help new users to practice QCA's analytical steps on sample data and then implement with their own findings. This hands-on textbook is an essential resource for students and researchers looking for a complete and up-to-date introduction to QCA.
Patrick A. Mello is a visiting scholar at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt and "Privatdozent" at the TUM School of Governance of the Technical University of Munich. He is the author of "Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict: Military Involvement in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq", winner of the 2015 Dissertation Award from the German Political Science Association. His articles have appeared in journals such as "Foreign Policy Analysis, European Journal of International Security", and the "British Journal of Politics and International Relations".