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The Evaluation of Complex Infrastructure Projects

A Guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis

Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij

Infrastructure projects are notoriously hard to manage so it is important that society learns from the successes and mistakes made over time. However, most evaluation methods run into a conundrum: either they cover a large number of projects but have little to say about their details, or they focus on detailed single-case studies with little in terms of applicability elsewhere. This book presents Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as an alternative evaluation method that solves the conundrum to enhance learning.
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Chapter 2: The case

Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij


We explain why it is important to research specific cases and how exactly cases are to be understood and studied using QCA. Cases allow the researcher to account for the heterogeneity, uniqueness, and contextuality of projects. Whereas the term ‘case’ is often used indiscriminately, in QCA it is a clearly defined and important building block. In QCA, cases are conceptualized as configurations of conditions. This configurational nature highlights the complexity of the case. Cases can be researched in two principal ways: case-driven and theory-driven. The case-driven route is decidedly grounded in empirical material, with the boundaries and aspects of cases being constructed during the empirical research process. In the more theory-driven route, the boundaries and aspects of cases are defined by prior theories. Both routes constitute dialogues between data and theory. The chapter explains the concrete research steps involved in both routes.

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