QCA METHOD IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: KEY CHARACTERISTICS, ACHIEVEMENTS AND LIMITATIONS

Danijela Dolenec ; Faculty of Political

Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Fulltext: pdf (144 KB), Croatian, Pages 104 – 126

Abstracts
This article discusses the application of the QCA method in the social sciences,
especially as it relates to the field of comparative politics. In its first part,
the article presents a critical overview of the key methodological literature on
the QCA method (e.g. Ragin et al., 2003, Rihoux, 2003). The main advantage
of this method is in its ability to bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative
studies by including an intermediary number of cases in the analysis,
increasing the variance of both the exploratory factors and the observed
outcome, and thus improving the validity of conclusions and their scope for
generalisation. Since the QCA method requires a formalisation of explanatory
conditions and the outcome, the analysis is easily replicable, which brings it
closer to accepted standards of the scientific method. Three characteristics of
the QCA method are of particular importance: complex causality, equifinality,
and its asymmetric character. The article presents the key elements of Boolean
algebra, which is applied in computing the results. We pay special attention to
the problem of limited diversity, and to the specificities of the fuzzy set variant
of the QCA method. Finally, the author introduces several critical points
regarding ways in which the QCA is being implemented. Although the QCA
method has been developed in order to bridge the gap between qualitative and
quantitative methods, when it is implemented without adherence to its key
principles, it exhibits the same weaknesses as standard statistical techniques.
Its successful implementation depends on sound contextual knowledge of the
analysed country cases.

Keywords
QCA; Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Social Science Methodology; Comparative Politics