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Books » Methodology (English)

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and Configurational Thinking in Management Studies

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Conrad Schulze-Bentrop
2013, hardcover, eBook
Peter Lang
ISBN 978-3-631-63616-9 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-3-653-02355-8 (eBook)

Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) - especially its fuzzy set version - has emerged as a new methodological tool in management studies which is ideally suited to test configurational theories. For the first time, the peculiarities of QCA in large-N designs are comprehensively analysed. Based on a systematic compilation of 145 empirical QCA studies valuable insights for the use of QCA as a quantitative technique are presented. For example, an innovative formula is developed which can substantially improve future model specifications. In a next step, the potential of QCA in management research is outlined by tracing configurational theories in a range of disciplines including strategy, HRM, marketing, and international business. This tour d'horizon through management studies highlights the wide application area of the methodology. Finally, an illustrative study is conducted using the fuzzy set version of QCA.

For more information, see the book's website at Peter Lang.

Configurational Theory and Methods in Organizational Research

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Peer C. FISS, Bart CAMBRÉ and Axel MARX (eds)
2013, hardcover
Emerald
ISBN: 978-1-78190-778-8

Several decades after the emergence of configurational theory as a key perspective in organization studies, this edited volume charts the revival and evolution of a configurational perspective on organizations, both in terms of the use of set-theoretic methods such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and in terms of configurational theorizing that has emerged from the use of such methods. The volume brings together more than 20 leading scholars applying set-theoretic methods in a range of prominent fields in organization studies. Additional chapters discuss the state of the art of configurational theory and methodology, specifically with regard to crisp and fuzzy set methods. This volume provides both inspiration and practical advice on how to conduct configurational analysis and offers an agenda and template for future research in the configurational tradition.

For more information, see the book's website at Emerald.

Qualitative Comparative Analysis with R: A User's Guide

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Alrik THIEM and Adrian DUŞA
2013, softcover
Springer Science and Business Media
ISBN: 978-1-4614-4583-8

Social science theory often builds on sets and their relations. Correlation-based methods of scientific enquiry, however, use linear algebra and are unsuited to analyzing set relations. The development of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) by Charles Ragin has given social scientists a formal tool for identifying set-theoretic connections based on Boolean algebra. As a result, interest in this method has markedly risen among social scientists in recent years. This book offers the first complete introduction on how to perform QCA in the R software environment for statistical computing and graphics with the QCA package. Developed as a comprehensive solution, QCA provides an unprecedented scope of functionality for analyzing crisp, multi-value and fuzzy sets. The reader is not required to have knowledge of R, but the book assumes an understanding of the fundamentals of QCA. Using examples from published work, the authors demonstrate how to make the most of QCA's wide-ranging capabilities for the reader's own purposes. Although mainly written for political scientists, this book is also of interest to scholars from other disciplines in the social sciences such as sociology, business, management, organization, anthropology, education and health.

For more information, see the book's website at Springer.

Mixed Methods in Comparative Politics: Principles and Applications

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Dirk BERG-SCHLOSSER
2012, paperback
Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0-2303-6177-5

This book exemplifies how distinct methods and epistemological persuasions in the social sciences can be meaningfully integrated and applied in a large international research project. The procedures are outlined step by step and enable readers to understand and apply these themselves. Important differences between common statistical procedures and recent developments in comparative research based on set theory and Boolean algebra for research situations with a limited number of cases (small N) become apparent. This is usually the case in Comparative Politics at the national level, for example comparing developments and policies within the European Union or other world regions, but also at a sub-national or local level. Various patterns and historical 'paths' can be demonstrated in this way. The substantive example chosen, the political consequences of the Great Depression in Europe in the 1930s, has important repercussions for the current world economic and financial crisis as well.

For more information, see the book's website at Palgrave.

Set-Theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences: A Guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis

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Carsten Q. SCHNEIDER and Claudius WAGEMANN
2012, paperback
Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-1-1076-0113-0

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and other set-theoretic methods distinguish themselves from other approaches to the study of social phenomena by using sets and the search for set relations. In virtually all social science fields, statements about social phenomena can be framed in terms of set relations, and using set-theoretic methods to investigate these statements is therefore highly valuable. This book guides readers through the basic principles of set theory and then on to the applied practices of QCA. It provides a thorough understanding of basic and advanced issues in set-theoretic methods together with tricks of the trade, software handling and exercises. Most arguments are introduced using examples from existing research. The use of QCA is increasing rapidly and the application of set-theory is both fruitful and still widely misunderstood in current empirical comparative social research. This book provides an invaluable guide to these methods for researchers across the social sciences.

For more information, see the book's website at CUP.

Book reviews by:

Verweij, Stefan in International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2013, 16 (2):165-66.

Constructing Social Research; 2nd ed.

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Charles C. RAGIN and Lisa M. AMOROSO
2011, 248p., paperback
Sage
ISBN: 978-1-4129-6018-2

Constructing Social Research: The Unity and Diversity of Method, Second Edition is a concise, innovative text designed for Research Methods courses in the Social Sciences. The main goal of this Sociology for a New Century Series text is to show unity within the diversity of activities called social research. The first part of the book tackles questions like "What is social research?" "How does it differ from journalism, documentary film-making, or laboratory research in the natural sciences?" and "What is the researcher's obligation to those he or she is studying?" The book also covers how the various goals of social researchers shape the strategies they use and the representations of social life they construct. The latter part of the book is structured around the typical emphases of each tradition: qualitative research on commonalities, comparative research on diversity, and quantitative research on relationships among variables. These are not rigid divisions and research designs often blend aspects of each tradition in creative ways. Regardless of the approach, the process of representing social life through research involves a dialogue of ideas ("theory") and evidence ("data"). The model of social research put forth by Ragin and Amoroso is not as restrictive as the scientific method and encompasses social research ranging from research examining the complexities of everyday life to research investigating the power of transnational processes.

For more information, see the book's website at Sage.

Linguisitic Fuzzy Logic Methods in Social Sciences

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Badredine ARFI
2010, 270p., hardcover
Springer
ISBN: 978-3-6421-3342-8

Linguistic fuzzy logic theory deals with sets or categories whose boundaries are blurry or, in other words, "fuzzy", and which are expressed in a formalism that uses "words" to compute, not numbers, termed in engineering as "soft computing". This book presents an accessible introduction to this linguistic fuzzy logic methodology, focusing on its applicability to social sciences. Specifically, this is the first book to propose an approach based on linguistic fuzzy-logic and the method of computing with words to the analysis of decision making processes, strategic interactions, causality, and data analysis in social sciences. The project consists of systematic, theoretical and practical discussions and developments of these new methods as well as their applications to various substantive issues of interest to international relations scholars, political scientists, and social scientists in general.

For more information, see the book's website at Springer.

The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods

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David BYRNE and Charles C. RAGIN (eds)
2009, 560p., hardcover
Sage
ISBN: 978-1-4129-3051-2

'This book provides a fresh and stimulating approach to causal analysis in the social sciences. International experts provide not just the philosophical arguments for a case-based approach to research but also detailed chapters on: 'why-to', 'when-to' and 'how-to'. Traditional distinctions between qualitative and quantitative are rejected in favour of a case-based approach which is applicable across the social sciences and beyond'
Professor Angela Dale, The University of Manchester

Case-based methods have a long history in the social sciences. They are extensively used and raise many practical and theoretical questions. This book provides a comprehensive, critical examination of case-oriented research. It offers concrete proposals about the best research methods and provides an unparalleled guide to the emergence and complexity of the field.

For more information, see the book's website at Sage.

Introduction to the Comparative Method With Boolean Algebra

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Daniele CARAMANI
2009, 128p., paperback
Sage
ISBN: 978-1-4129-0975-4

Offering students and researchers in the behavioural and social sciences a brief and accessible introduction to the comparative method, it is ideal for students of public administration, policy, sociology, political science, social psychology, and international relations. It provides readers with basic guidelines for comparative research by addressing all key methodological issues.

  • Assumes that readers have had no prior methodological training
  • Provides readers with a clear and concise introduction to the why, what, and how of the comparative method
  • Walks readers through comparative analysis in a step-by-step fashion
  • Discusses the advantages of the comparative method and the fields in which this method is best used

For more information, see the book's website at Sage.

Configurational Comparative Methods: Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and Related Techniques

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Benoit RIHOUX and Charles C. RAGIN (eds)
2009, 240p., paperback
Sage Publications
ISBN: 978-1-4129-4235-5

Configurational Comparative Methods paves the way for an innovative approach to empirical scientific work through a strategy that integrates key strengths of both qualitative (case-oriented) and quantitative (variable-oriented) approaches. This first-of-its-kind text is ideally suited for "small-N" or "intermediate-N" research situations, which both mainstream qualitative and quantitative methods find difficult to address. Benoît Rihoux and Charles C. Ragin, along with their contributing authors, offer both a basic, comparative research design overview and a technical and hands-on review of Crisp-Set QCA (csQCA), Multi-Value QCA (mvQCA), and Fuzzy-Set QCA (fsQCA).

Intended Audience

A must for any student or researcher who wants to engage in systematic cross-case comparison in the social and behavioral sciences, the book is ideal for use in upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level social science research methods courses.

Key Features

  • Discusses existing applications in many different fields and disciplines along with state-of-the-art coverage of the strengths and limitations of these techniques
  • Demonstrates further inventive ways of using QCA techniques
  • Provides advice on how to develop a comparative research design (case and variable selection) as well as a specific technique called MSDO/MDSO (most similar, different outcome/most different, same outcome)
  • Shows how to perform the technical operations linked to three specific QCA techniques: csQCA, mvQCA, and fsQCA
  • Includes a glossary, an extensive bibliography, and a detailed list of good practices at every stage of the research process

For more information, see the book's website at Sage.

Book reviews by:

Zschoch, Mark A. in Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2011, 44 (3): 743-46.

Method and Substance in Macrocomparative Analysis

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Lane KENWORTHY and Alexander HICKS (eds)
2008, 304p., hardcover
Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0-230-20257-3

Macrocomparative researchers use a variety of methodological approaches. This book features analyses of a single substantive topic, comparative employment performance in affluent countries, using three of the most common macrocomparative techniques: pooled cross-section time-series regression, qualitative comparative analysis, and small-N analysis.

For more information, see the book's website at Palgrave Macmillan.

Applying Fuzzy Mathematics to Formal Models in Comparative Politics

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Terry D. CLARK, Jennifer M. LARSON, John N. MORDESON, Joshua D. POTTER, and Mark J. WIERMAN
2008, 214p., hardcover/softcover
Springer
ISBN: 978-3-5407-7460-0

This book explores the intersection of fuzzy mathematics and the spatial modeling of preferences in political science. Beginning with a critique of conventional modeling approaches predicated on Cantor set theoretical assumptions, the authors outline the potential benefits of a fuzzy approach to the study of ambiguous or uncertain preference profiles. While crisp models assume that ambiguity is a form of confusion emerging from imperfect information about policy options, the authors argue instead that some level of ambiguity is innate in human preferences and social interaction. What fuzzy mathematics offers the researcher, then, is a precise tool with which he can model the inherently imprecise dimensions of nuanced empirical reality. Moving beyond the limited treatment fuzzy methodologies have received in extant political science literature, this book develops single- and multidimensional models of fuzzy preference landscapes and characterizes the surprisingly high levels of stability that emerge from interactions between players operating within these models. The material presented makes it a good text for a graduate seminar in formal modeling. It is also suitable as an introductory text in fuzzy mathematics for graduate and advanced undergraduate students.

For more information, see the book's website at Springer.

Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy Sets and Beyond

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Charles C. RAGIN
2008, 240p., paperback
University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 978-0-2267-0275-9

For over twenty years Charles C. Ragin has been at the forefront of the development of innovative methods for social scientists. In Redesigning Social Inquiry, he continues his campaign to revitalize the field, challenging major aspects of the conventional template for social science research while offering a clear alternative.

Redesigning Social Inquiry provides a substantive critique of the standard approach to social research-namely, assessing the relative importance of causal variables drawn from competing theories. Instead, Ragin proposes the use of set-theoretic methods to find a middle path between quantitative and qualitative research. Through a series of contrasts between fuzzy-set analysis and conventional quantitative research, Ragin demonstrates the capacity for set-theoretic methods to strengthen connections between qualitative researchers' deep knowledge of their cases and quantitative researchers' elaboration of cross-case patterns. Packed with useful examples, Redesigning Social Inquiry will be indispensable to experienced professionals and to budding scholars about to embark on their first project.

For more information, see the book's website at University of Chicago Press.

Book reviews by:

Morgan, Stephen in Social Forces, 2010, 88 (4):1934-36.
Vaisey, Stephen in Contemporary Sociology, 2009, 38 (4):308-12.

Fuzzy Logic for Business, Finance, and Management; 2nd ed.

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George BOJADZIEV and Maria BOJADZIEV
2007, 252p., hardcover
World Scientific
ISBN: 978-9-8127-0649-2

This is truly an interdisciplinary book for knowledge workers in business, finance, management and socio-economic sciences based on fuzzy logic. It serves as a guide to and techniques for forecasting, decision making and evaluations in an environment involving uncertainty, vagueness, impression and subjectivity. Traditional modeling techniques, contrary to fuzzy logic, do not capture the nature of complex systems especially when humans are involved. Fuzzy logic uses human experience and judgement to facilitate plausible reasoning in order to reach a conclusion. Emphasis is on applications presented in the 27 case studies including Time Forecasting for Project Management, New Product Pricing, and Control of a Parasit-Pest System.

For more information, see the book's website at World Scientific.

Fuzzy Set Theory: Applications in the Social Sciences

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Michael SMITHSON and Jay VERKUILEN
2006, 112p., paperback
Sage
ISBN: 978-0-7619-2986-4

Fuzzy set theory deals with sets or categories whose boundaries are blurry or, in other words, "fuzzy." This book presents an accessible introduction to fuzzy set theory, focusing on its applicability to the social sciences. Unlike most books on this topic, Fuzzy Set Theory: Applications in the Social Sciences provides a systematic, yet practical guide for researchers wishing to combine fuzzy set theory with standard statistical techniques and model-testing.

Intended Audience:
Ideal for researchers in the social sciences, education, and behavioral sciences; as well as graduate students in the applied social sciences

Key Features

  • Addresses Basic Concepts: Fuzzy set theory is an analytic framework for handling concepts that are simultaneously categorical and dimensional. Starting with a rationale for fuzzy sets, this book introduces readers with an elementary knowledge of statistics to the necessary concepts and techniques of fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic.
  • Introduces Novel Ways of Analyses: Researchers are shown alternative methods to conventional models, especially for testing theories that are expressed in set-wise terms. Issues of operationalizing graded membership in a fuzzy set and the measurement of the properties of such sets are a few of the topics addressed.
  • Illustrates Techniques and Applications: Real examples and data-sets from various disciplines in the social sciences are used to demonstrate the connections between fuzzy sets and other data analytic techniques, empirical applications of the technique, and the critiques of fuzzy set theory.

For more information, see the book's website at Sage.

Necessary Conditions: Theory, Methodology, and Applications

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Gary GOERTZ and Harvey STARR (eds)
2003, 346p., paperback
Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 978-0-7425-1926-8

This volume represents a first. Never before has a book focused completely on the implications of necessary conditions for social science research, logic, methodology, research design, and theory. Rarely is the contrast so wide between the prevalence of a concept in scholarship and its absence in methodology texts. Necessary Conditions presents literally hundreds of necessary condition hypotheses from all areas of political science and other social science methodologies, and is authored by many of the most influential social scientists of the last fifty years. Thus, this volume brings together essential work that deals not only with the analysis of common methodological, logical, and research design errors, but also the proper means-qualitative and quantitative-to analyze the many ramifications of necessary condition hypotheses and theories.

For more information, see the book's website at Rowman & Littlefield.

Book reviews by:

Mahoney, James in Journal of Politics, 2004, 66 (2):658-60.
Schneider, Carsten Q. in Journal of Politics, 2008, 70 (1):279-82.

Fuzzy-Set Social Science

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Charles C. RAGIN
2000, 370p., paperback
University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 978-0-2267-0277-3

In this innovative approach to the practice of social science, Charles Ragin explores the use of fuzzy sets to bridge the divide between quantitative and qualitative methods. Paradoxically, the fuzzy set is a powerful tool because it replaces an unwieldy, "fuzzy" instrument-the variable, which establishes only the positions of cases relative to each other, with a precise one-degree of membership in a well-defined set.

Ragin argues that fuzzy sets allow a far richer dialogue between ideas and evidence in social research than previously possible. They let quantitative researchers abandon "homogenizing assumptions" about cases and causes, they extend diversity-oriented research strategies, and they provide a powerful connection between theory and data analysis. Most important, fuzzy sets can be carefully tailored to fit evolving theoretical concepts, sharpening quantitative tools with in-depth knowledge gained through qualitative, case-oriented inquiry. This book will revolutionize research methods not only in sociology, political science, and anthropology but in any field of inquiry dealing with complex patterns of causation.

For more information, see the book's website at Chicago University Press.

Book reviews by:

Abbott, Andrew in Contemporary Sociology, 2001, 30 (4):330-31.
Gerring, John in Studies in Comparative International Development, 2001, 36 (2):111-13.
Kiser, Edgar in American Journal of Sociology, 2001, 106 (5):1486-87.
Liao, Tim Futing in Social Forces, 2001, 80 (1):354-56.
Mahoney, James in Sociological Forum, 2001, 16 (3):575-93.
Rueschemeyer, Dietrich in Qualitative Sociology, 2003, 26 (2):595-9.
Schweber, Libby in Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2002, 32 (3):443-44.

The Comparative Method: Moving beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies

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Charles C. RAGIN
1987, 218p., paperback
University of California Press
ISBN: 978-0-5200-6618-2

Professor Ragin proposes a synthetic new strategy, based on an application of Boolean algebra, that will combine the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative sociology. Elegantly accessible and germane to the work of all the social sciences, this book will garner interest, debate, and praise from many quarters.

For more information, see the book's website at University of California Press.

Book reviews by:

Biernacki, Richard in American Journal of Sociology, 1989, 95 (3):825-26.
Modell, John in Journal of Social History, 1992, 25 (3):627-28.
Timberlake, Michael in Social Forces, 1989, 67 (3):827-29.


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