Not Quite Crisp, Not Yet Fuzzy? Assessing the Potentials and Pitfalls of Multi-Value QCA
Field Methods, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 265-289
COMPASSS Working Paper WP 2007-52
29 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2009 Last revised: 17 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2007
This paper assesses the strengths and shortcomings of multi-value Qualitative Comparative Analysis (mvQCA), a comparative technique for small to medium size datasets that has been integrated in the TOSMANA software developed by Lasse Cronqvist. Its main difference with Charles Ragin´s ´crisp-set´ QCA (csQCA), which only allows for conditions with 0 or 1 values, is that the dataset can also contain causal conditions with three or more categories. MvQCA thus avoids relatively crude dichotomization and arguably better captures the richness of information of the raw data. Unlike ´fuzzy-set´ QCA (fsQCA), developed by Ragin to go beyond the classic dichotomous approach, mvQCA is still based on dichotomous outcomes and applies Boolean minimization principles in a similar way to csQCA. Its major advantage, according to its proponents, is that it deals better with the classic QCA problem of contradictory configurations where cases with the same explanatory characteristics display different outcomes and in principle cannot be taken into account for logical minimization. We discuss the logical status of mvQCA, its impact on limited diversity, and present a re-analysis of a recent paper to show how mvQCA uses threshold-setting to solve contradictions.
Keywords: comparative methods, Boolean analysis, multi-value QCA, fuzzy-set methods
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