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Clashing Validities in the Comparative Method? Balancing In-Depth Understanding and Generalizability in Small-N Policy Studies

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2013-10

General Subserie Research Paper No. 2013-02

31 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013 Last revised: 25 Apr 2013

Jeroen van der Heijden

Associate Professor, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet); Associate Professor, Amsterdam Law School, University of Amsterdam

Date Written: February 7, 2013

Abstract

The comparative method receives considerable attention in political science. To some a main advantage of the method is that it allows for both in-depth insights (internal validity), and generalizability beyond the cases studied (external validity). However, others consider internal and external validity to be in conflict in this method, and claim that tradeoffs between the two are inevitable. This article addresses these contradictory arguments; and, presents a number of strategies and guidelines that may help (future) comparativists to balance the internal and external validity of their studies.

Keywords: comparative policy, political science, qualitative research methodology, research design

JEL Classification: K2, K42

Suggested Citation

van der Heijden, Jeroen, Clashing Validities in the Comparative Method? Balancing In-Depth Understanding and Generalizability in Small-N Policy Studies (February 7, 2013). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2013-10; General Subserie Research Paper No. 2013-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2213198 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2213198

Jeroen Van der Heijden (Contact Author)

Associate Professor, School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Australian National University
Building #8
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Associate Professor, Amsterdam Law School, University of Amsterdam ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.jeroenvanderheijden.net

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