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Why are case studies considered particularly appropriate to reveal

causal mechanisms?
QUESTION 2. What are the advantages of a cross-case study approach over a
single case study approach (refer to Gerrings arguments)?

Question 1

A causal mechanism represents an order of events, conditions and processes

leading from the explanans to the explanandum 1. A causal relation is established
between X and Y if there is a set of causal mechanisms that connect X and Y. This is
an ontological premise asserting that causal mechanisms are real and are the
legitimate object of scientific investigation.2
Case studies are considered particularly appropriate to reveal causal mechanisms
because they are able to identify immediate causes through the technique of
process-tracing. (George and Bennet)
Tracing the link between possible causes and observed outcomes is a very useful
technique that has led to many important discoveries.
Causes themselves can be very different (immediate causes, underlying causes,
efficient causes, inefficient causes, cause as a necessary condition, cause as a
contributing condition)therefore a complex technique like process-tracing is a perfect
fit for solving the puzzles created by these causes.

Question 2

Case studies represent one of the best approaches in explaining causal

mechanisms. Both single and cross-case study are very efficient.
If one has to make a comparison, the cross-case study appears to possess some
advantages over the single case study.
Cross-case studies enable one to acquire a broader perspective on a subject,
because it is not limited on only one case.
In cross-case studies useful variation is common as opposed to single case studies.
Cross-case studies are definitely better if the researcher desires to test a theory or
the effects of a cause.
Cross-case studies are better for provoking the researchers imagination, and revel
new dimensions.
Cross-case analysis can enhance the researchers' abilities to apprehend how
relationships may exist among discrete cases, accumulate knowledge from the
original case, refine and develop concepts (RAGIN, 1997), and build or test theory
(ECKSTEIN, 2002).3

1 Daniel Little, Varieties Of Social Explanation: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Social Science, Westview
Press (January 3, 1991)

2Causal Mechanisms, (accessed

January 9,2017)

3 Cultivating the Under-Mined: Cross-Case Analysis as Knowledge Mobilizationhttp://www.qualitative- (accessed January 9, 2017)