A Critical Review of Applications in Qca and Fuzzy-Set Analysis and a 'Toolbox' of Proven Solutions to Frequently Encountered Problems
19 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 14 Oct 2015
Date Written: 2012
In recent years, comparative researchers have increasingly turned to Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and fuzzy sets as analytic tools for social scientific inquiry. In this context, several publications have begun to address potential pitfalls in applying QCA when researchers are not paying attention to the underlying principles of the approach. Rather than engage this discussion on an abstract level, this paper asks what constitutes current practice in published articles in fsQCA. The paper conducts a review of recent applications with the twofold aim of taking stock of analytical strategies across studies from diverse strands of substantive research to point out (best) practices on actual applications. Twenty-one journal articles were selected from 2010 onward to keep the focus on current developments in fuzzy-set analysis as opposed to a larger sample that spans across QCA variants and two decades of applications. In brief, the review demonstrates that applications are characterized by great diversity and that a range of solutions to frequently encountered problems in fsQCA research design exists. Yet, in order to utilize the full potential of QCA as a method, researchers need to reconsider its underlying assumptions – some of which seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent applications.
Keywords: Methodology, comparative methods, QCA, fuzzy-set analysis, review
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