Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Enhancing Sensitivity Diagnostics for Qualitative Comparative Analysis: A Combinatorial Approach

  • Alrik Thiem (a1), Reto Spöhel (a2) and Adrian Duşa (a3)
Abstract

Sensitivity diagnostics has recently been put high on the agenda of methodological research into Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Existing studies in this area rely on the technique of exhaustive enumeration, and the majority of works examine the reactivity of QCA either only to alterations in discretionary parameter values or only to data quality. In this article, we introduce the technique of combinatorial computation for evaluating the interaction effects between two problems afflicting data quality and two discretionary parameters on the stability of QCA reference solutions. In this connection, we challenge a hitherto unstated assumption intrinsic to exhaustive enumeration, show that combinatorial computation permits the formulation of general laws of sensitivity in QCA, and demonstrate that our technique is most efficient.

Copyright
Corresponding author
e-mail: alrik.thiem@unige.ch (corresponding author)
Footnotes
Hide All

Authors' note: Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site (Thiem, Spöhel, and Dus'a 2015). Previous versions of this article have been presented at the 1st and 2nd International QCA Expert Workshops, ETH Zurich, Switzerland. We thank Michael Baumgartner, Christian Rupietta, the participants at the aforementioned workshops, the editors of Political Analysis, and the three reviewers for their helpful comments.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Ambuehl, Mathias, Baumgartner, Michael, Epple, Ruedi, Kauffmann, Alexis, and Thiem, Alrik. 2015. cna: A package for Coincidence Analysis, R package version 1.0-3. http://cran.r-project.org/package=cna.
Baumgartner, Michael. 2009. Inferring causal complexity. Sociological Methods & Research 38(1): 71101.
Baumgartner, Michael. 2013. Detecting causal chains in small-n data. Field Methods 25(1): 324.
Baumgartner, Michael. 2015. Parsimony and causality. Quality & Quantity 49(2): 839–56.
Baumgartner, Michael, and Thiem, Alrik. 2015a. Identifying complex causal dependencies in configurational data with Coincidence Analysis. The R Journal 7(1): 176–84.
Baumgartner, Michael, and Thiem, Alrik. 2015b. Model ambiguities in configurational comparative research. Sociological Methods & Research. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0049124115610351.
Baumgartner, Michael, and Epple, Ruedi. 2014. A Coincidence Analysis of a causal chain: The Swiss minaret vote. Sociological Methods & Research 43(2): 280312.
Bol, Damien, and Luppi, Francesca. 2013. Confronting theories based on necessary relations: Making the best of QCA possibilities. Political Research Quarterly 66(1): 205–10.
Bowers, Jake. 2014. Comment: Method games—A proposal for assessing and learning about methods. Sociological Methodology 44(1): 112–7.
Braumoeller, Bear F. 2015. Guarding against false positives in Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Political Analysis. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1093/pan/mpv017.
Braumoeller, Bear F., and Goertz, Gary. 2000. The methodology of necessary conditions. American Journal of Political Science 44(4): 844–58.
Clark, William Roberts, Gilligan, Michael J., and Golder, Matt. 2006. A simple multivariate test for asymmetric hypotheses. Political Analysis 14(3): 311–31.
Cooper, Barry, and Glaesser, Judith. 2011a. Paradoxes and pitfalls in using fuzzy set QCA: Illustrations from a critical review of a study of educational inequality. Sociological Research Online 16(3): 18.
Cooper, Barry, and Glaesser, Judith. 2011b. Using case-based approaches to analyse large datasets: A comparison of Ragin's fsQCA and fuzzy cluster analysis. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 14(1): 3148.
Coverdill, James E., and Finlay, William. 1995. Understanding mills via Mill-type methods: An application of Qualitative Comparative Analysis to a study of labor management in Southern textile manufacturing. Qualitative Sociology 18(4): 457–78.
Cronqvist, Lasse, and Berg-Schlosser, Dirk. 2009. Multi-value QCA (mvQCA). In Configurational comparative methods: Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and related techniques, eds. Rihoux, Benoît and Ragin, Charles C., 6986. London: Sage Publications.
Duşa, Adrian, and Thiem, Alrik. 2014. QCA: A package for Qualitative Comparative Analysis, R package version 1.1-4. http://cran.r-project.org/package =QCA.
Duşa, Adrian, and Thiem, Alrik. 2015. Enhancing the minimization of Boolean and multi-value output functions with eQMC. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 39(2): 92108.
Eliason, Scott R., and Stryker, Robin. 2009. Goodness-of-fit tests and descriptive measures in fuzzy-set analysis. Sociological Methods & Research 38(1): 102–46.
Gelman, Andrew, and Hill, Jennifer. 2007. Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Glaesser, Judith, and Cooper, Barry. 2014. Exploring the consequences of a recalibration of causal conditions when assessing sufficiency with fuzzy set QCA. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(4): 387401.
Goldthorpe, John H. 1997a. Current issues in comparative macrosociology: A debate on methodological issues. Comparative Social Research 16:126.
Goldthorpe, John H 1997b. A response to the commentaries. Comparative Social Research 16:121–32.
Griffin, Larry J., Botsko, Ana-Maria Wahl, Christopher, and Isaac, Larry W. 1991. Theoretical generality, case particularity: Qualitative Comparative Analysis of trade-union growth and decline. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 32(1–2): 110–36.
Grofman, Bernard, and Schneider, Carsten Q. 2009. An introduction to crisp set QCA, with a comparison to binary logistic regression. Political Research Quarterly 62(4): 662–72.
Hicks, Alexander, Misra, Joya, and Nah Ng, Tang. 1995. The programmatic emergence of the social security state. American Sociological Review 60(3): 329–49.
Hohn, Franz E. 1966. Applied Boolean algebra: An elementary introduction. New York: Macmillan.
Hug, Simon. 2013. Qualitative Comparative Analysis: How inductive use and measurement error lead to problematic inference. Political Analysis 21(2): 252–65.
Krogslund, Chris, Danny Choi, Donghyun, and Poertner, Mathias. 2015. Fuzzy sets on shaky ground: Parameter sensitivity and confirmation bias in fsQCA. Political Analysis 23(1): 2141.
Lucas, Samuel R., and Szatrowski, Alisa. 2014. Qualitative Comparative Analysis in critical perspective. Sociological Methodology 44(1): 179.
Maggetti, Martino, and Levi-Faur, David. 2013. Dealing with errors in QCA. Political Research Quarterly 66(1): 198204.
Nievergelt, Jürg. 2000. Exhaustive search, combinatorial optimization and enumeration: Exploring the potential of raw computing power. In SOFSEM 2000: Theory and practice of informatics, eds. Hlaváč, Václav, Jeffery, Keith G., and Wiedermann, Jiří, 1835. Berlin: Springer.
Paine, Jack. 2015. Set-theoretic comparative methods: Less distinctive than claimed. Comparative Political Studies. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0010414014564851.
R Development Core Team. 2014. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Ragin, Charles C. 2000. Fuzzy-set social science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ragin, Charles C., and Davey, Sean. 2014. fs/QCA: Fuzzy-set/Qualitative Comparative Analysis, version 2.5 [computer program]. Irvine: Department of Sociology, University of California.
Sarkar, Deepayan. 2008. Lattice: Multivariate data visualization with R. New York: Springer.
Schneider, Carsten Q., and Wagemann, Claudius. 2012. Set-theoretic methods for the social sciences: A guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Schneider, Carsten Q., and Wagemann, Claudius 2013. Doing justice to logical remainders in QCA: Moving beyond the standard analysis. Political Research Quarterly 66(1): 211–20.
Seawright, Jason. 2005. Qualitative Comparative Analysis vis-à-vis regression. Studies in Comparative International Development 40(1): 326.
Seawright, Jason. 2014. Comment: Limited diversity and the unreliability of QCA. Sociological Methodology 44(1): 118–21.
Skaaning, Svend-Erik. 2011. Assessing the robustness of crisp-set and fuzzy-set QCA results. Sociological Methods & Research 40(2): 391408.
Thiem, Alrik. 2013. Clearly crisp, and not fuzzy: A reassessment of the (putative) pitfalls of multi-value QCA. Field Methods 25(2): 197207.
Thiem, Alrik. 2014a. Membership function sensitivity of descriptive statistics in fuzzy-set relations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(6): 625–42.
Thiem, Alrik. 2014b. Mill's methods, induction and case sensitivity in Qualitative Comparative Analysis: A comment on Hug (2013). Qualitative & Multi-Method Research 12(2): 1924.
Thiem, Alrik 2014c. Navigating the complexities of Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Case numbers, necessity relations, and model ambiguities. Evaluation Review 38(6): 487513.
Thiem, Alrik. 2014d. Unifying configurational comparative methods: Generalized-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Sociological Methods & Research 43(2): 313–37.
Thiem, Alrik. 2015. Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis for identifying causal chains in configurational data: A methodological commentary on Baumgartner and Epple (2014). Sociological Methods & Research 44(4): 723–36.
Thiem, Alrik, and Duşa, Adrian. 2013a. Boolean minimization in social science research: A review of current software for Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Social Science Computer Review 31(4): 505–21.
Thiem, Alrik, and Duşa, Adrian. 2013b. QCA: A package for Qualitative Comparative Analysis. The R Journal 5(1): 8797.
Thiem, Alrik, and Duşa, Adrian 2013c. Qualitative Comparative Analysis with R: A user's guide. New York: Springer.
Thiem, Alrik, Baumgartner, Michael, and Bol, Damien. 2015. Still lost in translation! A correction of three misunderstandings between configurational comparativists and regressional analysts. Comparative Political Studies. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0010414014565892.
Thiem, Alrik, Spöhel, Reto, and Duşa, Adrian. 2015. Replication Package for: Enhancing sensitivity diagnostics for Qualitative Comparative Analysis: A combinatorial approach. http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/QE27H9, Harvard Dataverse, V1.
Vis, Barbara. 2012. The comparative advantages of fsQCA and regression analysis for moderately large- n analyses. Sociological Methods & Research 41(1): 168–98.
Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. 2002. Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
MathJax

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed