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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 5: Complexity and evaluation revisited

Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij

Extract

In this concluding chapter, some of the main issues concerning the evaluation of complex infrastructure projects with QCA are revisited. First, QCA’s capacity to truly capture and study the complexity of the development of infrastructure projects is discussed. QCA’s take on complex causality is relatively static because it does not explicitly integrate the time dimension. Various strategies to integrate time in QCA are discussed, including Temporal QCA (TQCA) and Time-Series QCA (TS/QCA). The different strategies have their strengths and weaknesses and they relate to different research steps (i.e., the case, the calibration, and the comparison) involved in QCA. Second, the deployment of QCA in real-world evaluations and various issues evaluators may run into are discussed. These issues include learning and political accountability, the presentation and visualization of results, and the transfer of lessons learned.

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