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Panel on Case-Oriented and Set-Theoretic Approaches to Comparative Policy Analysis, 4th International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP4)

June 26 - June 28

Recent years have seen an impressive proliferation of set-theoretic and case-oriented methods in comparative policy analysis in general (see e.g. Rihoux et al. 2011; Thomann 2019), and in policy implementation and evaluation research in particular (Gerrits and Verweij 2018; Pattyn et al. 2017). Case-oriented and set-theoretic approaches to comparative policy analysis, including but not limited to methods such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), Coincidence Analysis (CNA, explanatory typologies, and comparative process tracing, are designed to address the challenges of contemporary policy analysis. Situated within a “critical realist” paradigm of social research (Gerrits and Verweij 2013), they model different aspects of causal complexity, such as the prevalence of configurations of different factors leading to policy outputs or outcomes, equifinality (multiple policy strategies or instruments resulting in the same outcome), contextual contingencies, and causal asymmetry. Moreover, they can be applied within a variety of small-N or large-N research approaches to evaluate as well as generate theories through a combination of systematic comparison with targeted in-depth case studies (Thomann and Maggetti 2017).

This panel gathers theoretical, conceptual, and empirical contributions by both junior and senior scholars that deal with case-oriented and set-theoretic approaches and illustrate their potential and limitations to contribute to the theory and practice of policy analysis. We particularly invite contributions that either comprehensively review or systematize the state of the art, apply methodological innovations to empirical settings, connect methods with theories, and/or contribute to methodological innovation themselves. Papers should engage in a critical reflection of methodological aspects and their connection with the theory and/or practice of policy analysis in general, or implementation and evaluation in particular. Abstracts should include a clear puzzle, research question, outline of the approach, research design, and main contribution of the proposed paper. Preference is given to abstracts that demonstrate an understanding of recent methodological developments.


Eva Thomann (University of Exeter)
Valérie Pattyn (Leiden University)
Stefan Verweij (University of Groningen)


University of Concordia
Montreal, Canada + Google Map

Comparative Methods for Systemic Cross-Case Analysis