Comparative case studies are a powerful research design to help test and build theories in all areas of social science. They help establish and test ‘boundary conditions’ as well as testing the limits of social theories in specific contexts. But they can be challenging to design and execute. Researchers can find themselves several stages into a comparative case design project without really having thought through what are the boundaries of the cases, what are the points of comparative similarity and difference, and what causal mechanisms we are ‘looking for’. This can bring problems for the analytical and theory development stages of a project.
This workshop will use examples from my own research, as well as PhD projects I have supervised and wider literature, to explore different kinds of comparative case design. Examples will include comparisons between: countries, companies, sectors/industries, individuals, and policy areas. But feel free to bring your own ideas and problems to talk through!
It is aimed at researchers at any stage of their PhD – design, operationalisation, analysis and theory building. I will draw on my experience as a seasoned supervisor and external examiner to explain the kinds of questions that emerge from comparative case studies as a research design.
The workshop will be structured partly as a lecture to introduce key ideas and principles of comparative case study as a research design. It will also integrate opportunities for participants to discuss their own research in small groups, as well as plenty of opportunities to ask questions for wider discussion.
Delivered by Prof. Melanie Simms, University of Glasgow