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Combining Diverse Research Approaches

  • Blatter J
  • Haverland M
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The previous chapters outlined three approaches to case study research. In this chapter, we will discuss fruitful combinations of the different case study approaches. Furthermore, we show how case studies (that is, small-N studies) can be connected to large-N studies that use statistical methods to perform data analysis and medium-N studies that apply Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) for this task. We combine divergent research approaches and designs because they have strengths that complement one another. Therefore, combining the various approaches and designs increases the leverage of the research. Nevertheless, combining the different approaches might not always be as easy and fruitful as it seems. We are aware that a lively methodological debate is currently occurring about the extent to which combining small-N studies (that is, qualitative research) with medium-N or large-N studies (that is, quantitative research) makes sense (for example, Lieberman 2005; Haverland 2007; Fearon and Laitin 2008; Rohlfing 2008; Seawright and Gerring 2008; Kuehn and Rohlfing 2010; Wolf 2010). In general, we do not share the skepticism that has been raised against the idea of combining qualitative and quantitative research because we have found fruitful combinations of the two types of research. Nevertheless, we believe that usually a separate and sequential application of different research approaches and designs is more appropriate than the mixing of various approaches and techniques within the same study. In the first paragraph of Section 5.1, we provide an overview of the major reasons for combining approaches and designs. In Sections 5.2 and 5.3, we present examples that exhibit the two most important combinations of divergent case study approaches: 205 J. Blatter et al., Designing Case Studies




Blatter, J., & Haverland, M. (2012). Combining Diverse Research Approaches. In Designing Case Studies (pp. 205–238). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

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