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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article investigates the tradition of case-oriented configurational research, focusing specifically on qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) as a tool for causal inference. It first presents two analytic procedures commonly used by comparative researchers. A short description of the state-of-the-art of QCA applications is offered, in terms of discipline, types of cases, models, combinations with other methods, and software development. It then reviews different uses of QCA, as well as generic ‘best practices’. Some key recent evolutions are illustrated: on the one hand the development, beyond dichotomous ‘crisp set’ QCA (csQCA), of multi-value QCA (mvQCA), fuzzy sets, and fuzzy-set QCA (fsQCA), and on the other hand technical advances and refinements in the use of the techniques. Finally, the article gives some concluding reflections as to expected developments, upcoming innovations, remaining challenges, expansion of fields of application, and cross-fertilization with other approaches.

Keywords: qualitative comparative analysis, causal inference, fuzzy sets, case-oriented configurational research, software, models

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