A Phantom Menace: Why Researchers Should Stop Worrying About Logical Remainders in Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

25 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2022

See all articles by Alrik Thiem

Alrik Thiem

University of Lucerne

Lusine Mkrtchyan

University of Lucerne

Zuzana Sebechlebska

University of Lucerne

Date Written: August 19, 2022

Abstract

A considerable part of the literature on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) demands to pay attention to logical remainders and to manipulate them through various procedures. Worries about the use of so-called don’t cares in the classical Quine-McCluskey algorithm (QMC) have been responsible. In this article, we demonstrate that the manipulation of logical remainders in QCA is a mere artifact of a missing connection to logic design and electrical engineering - the home discipline of the algorithmic machinery imported by QCA’s early developers. Ever since, distortions in data and results have been the immediate consequence for applied QCA research. In particular, our article reinforces the methodological argument that only the parsimonious solution type of QCA faithfully reflects the empirical evidence for the existence of configurational cause-effect relations. More generally, our results imply that all procedures in QCA requiring the manipulation of logical remainders have no basis other than a phantom menace.

Keywords: electrical engineering, logic design, qualitative comparative analysis, Quine- McCluskey algorithm, switching circuit analysis

Suggested Citation

Thiem, Alrik and Mkrtchyan, Lusine and Sebechlebska, Zuzana, A Phantom Menace: Why Researchers Should Stop Worrying About Logical Remainders in Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) (August 19, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4194667 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4194667

Alrik Thiem (Contact Author)

University of Lucerne ( email )

Frohburgstrasse 3
PO box 4466
Lucerne, Lucerne 6002
Switzerland

Lusine Mkrtchyan

University of Lucerne ( email )

Hofstrasse 9
P.O. Box 7464
Luzern 7, CH - 6000
Switzerland

Zuzana Sebechlebska

University of Lucerne

Frohburgstr. 3
P.O. Box 4466
Lucerne, CH - 6002
Switzerland

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