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SB110 - Longitudinal Case Studies

Instructor Details

Instructor Photo

Erin Jenne

Central European University

Instructor Bio

Erin K. Jenne is a professor at CEU's Department of International Relations, where she teaches MA and PhD courses on qualitative and quantitative methods, nationalism and civil war, foreign policy analysis, international relations theory, ethnic conflict management, and international security.

Erin received her PhD in political science from Stanford University with concentrations in comparative politics, international relations and organisational theory.

She has received numerous grants and fellowships, including a MacArthur fellowship at Stanford University, a Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) fellowship at Harvard University, a Carnegie Corporation scholarship, and a Fernand Braudel fellowship at European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, and a MINERVA Initiative grant on Chinese soft power from the US Department of Defense.

Erin recently published her second book, Nested Security: Lessons in Conflict Management from the League of Nations and the European Union (Cornell University Press, 2015). Her first book, Ethnic Bargaining: The Paradox of Minority Empowerment (Cornell University Press, 2007) won the Mershon Center’s Edgar S. Furniss Book Award in 2007 and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine. Ethnic Bargaining is based on her dissertation, which won the 2001 Seymour Martin Lipset Award for Best Comparativist Dissertation.

She has published numerous book chapters and journal articles in International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, Regional and Federal Studies, Journal of Peace Research, Civil Wars, Ethnopolitics, International Studies Review, Journal of Democracy, Research and Politics and PS: Political Science and Politics, Research and Politics and Europe-Asia Studies (forthcoming).

She currently sits on the editorial boards of Ethnopolitics, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Review, and has served in several capacities on the Emigration, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Section of the International Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Nationalities and the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.


Course Dates and Times

Monday 8 to Friday 12 August 2016
Generally classes are either 09:00-12:30 or 14:00-17:30
15 hours over 5 days

Prerequisite Knowledge

This course does not have any special prerequisites, but students should have a basic familiarity with the comparative method and qualitative research design.

Short Outline

This course is designed for students intending to use longitudinal case study methodology in their research projects. It will be especially useful for PhD students who are working on their theses, postdoctoral fellows who are transforming their theses into a monograph or series of articles as well as assistant professors who wish to employ longitudinal case study research in their published work. The course introduces the method of longitudinal case study analysis (LCA) as a hybrid of (1) process-tracing, (2) periodized within-case research design, and (3) historical comparative analysis (HCA)—combining different techniques for hypothesis testing by slicing and dicing the empirics within a single case study over time and, as a second step, extending these comparisons to one or more similar case studies across space. The course is heavily weighted toward examples, class exercises and workshopping student assignments, with significant instructor feedback. As such, the course is intended to guide students through the process of fitting an appropriately tailored longitudinal case study design to their research question, formulate a plan for testing their hypotheses using within- and cross-case temporal variation, develop a plan for approaching, collecting and analyzing data in the field, and, finally, writing up the results in a convincing narrative style.

Long Course Outline

Why did women gain substantive economic or political rights in some Islamic countries but not in others? What accounts for the variation in democratic consolidation across the countries of the post-communist world? Why did some advanced industrialized democracies implement extensive social welfare programs, but not others? While traditional comparative analysis promises answers to such questions, a full explanation often requires integrating primary record and field analysis with longitudinal data displays to build and test analytical narratives that can be generalized to all cases that meet the theory’s scope conditions.


Longitudinal Case Analysis (LCA) is a research tradition that combines techniques from historiography and longitudinal data analysis with those of John Stuart Mill’s comparative method and process-tracing to test social science theories that contain causal processes that are both long and/or slow-moving but that also involve micro-level causal mechanisms that play out during periods of rapid transition or change. Researchers have used LCA to explore topics ranging from the emergence of civil wars to collective action to the emergence of international norms and institutions. The study of these phenomena does not lend itself easily to quantitative or experimental analysis, but are instead well-served by joint-longitudinal-comparative analysis of multiple cases over time—which may be years, decades, or in rare cases, centuries.


The course is divided into three main parts: (1) developing theory and specifying causal mechanisms (paying close attention to the temporal component), (2) formulating the research design and planning data collection, and (3), establishing techniques of causal inference and writing up the cases in a compelling narrative form. Throughout, equal time is spent on seminars and workshops--a format that is intended to assist students in developing longitudinal case study designs tailored to their specific research agendas.


In the first part of the course (days 1 and 2), we explore the advantages and limitations of this hybrid method and discuss the range of research questions that lend themselves to LCA. We begin by exploring the principles of historical comparative analysis (used to assess theories of long and/or slow structural change), as well as periodized longitudinal analysis (used to assess causal mechanisms that recur through time), and finally process-tracing (used to assess causal mechanisms that involve rapid change. We discuss different ways in which these approaches can be combined to conduct longitudinal case studies that can test for complex causal processes hypothesized by the researcher (including case periodization, critical junctures, stable/unstable equilibria, feedback and cascading effects, agency and institutional change).

The key is to exploit the considerable within-case variation over time as well as across cases to adjudicate between competing accounts for the outcome of interest. In so doing, we not only establish the importance of a well-specified causal mechanism, but also explore various indicators that can be used to test for (and demonstrate) the mechanics of change within a single case over time. The first part of the course is thus devoted to developing a research design that combines a selection of techniques (e.g., at the macro-level, event periodization and small-N case selection; at the micro-level, interpretative document and/or ethnographic analysis) in a way that is adapted to the research question at hand. 


The second part of the course (days 3 and 4) are aimed at executing the research design. Here, we cover the different types of data that are used in such work, including (1) archival data or primary sources), (2) secondary (usually scholarly) sources, (3) running data such as statistical records, and (4) interview or field data drawn from subjects who have first-hand memories of these phenomena. We discuss how to locate and record these data and how to use them separately or in combination, depending on the phenomenon to be explained as well as the hypothesized causal mechanism(s). The fourth day is devoted to the problem of causal and descriptive inference in over-time case study analysis. Threats to causal inference such as measurement validity and reliability are discussed as well as the problem of endogeneity, reverse causation and equifinality. We discuss how to handle these threats, which are endemic to qualitative case analysis, by using nested analysis, various techniques of external content and construct validation.


The third and final part of the course (day 5) asks what makes a case study convincing to the reader. We examine different approaches toward developing an effective and convincing narrative form in the case ”write-up.” On day 5, we cover how to structure the data in a manageable format. We explore the usefulness of different software programs for ordering the data so that the researcher can ”see” the story and  select a narrative style with which to “write up” the cases in a way that demonstrates the validity of the author’s causal argument. One example of this is the ”analytical narratives” approach in applied economics, which aims to demonstrate the logic of formal theories through a systematic exploration of a case study using a select set of data and empirics. A good analytical narrative is at once a compelling story told with “flair,” and a convincing investigative report; the aim is to both persuade and seduce the reader. When done well, these longitudinal case studies can linger on in the reader’s mind, giving life to an otherwise dull, abstract and ultimately forgettable theory. While specifically designed to complement formal game theory, the analytical narrative is equally well adapted for testing and illustrating less formalized theory.

Day-to-Day Schedule

Day-to-Day Reading List

Software Requirements

There are no software programme requirements for the course, although there will be demonstrations of how various field (interview/archival/bibliographic) data management systems (all freeware or with free trial periods) can be used in the context of longitudinal case study analysis and write-up. Students will be notified in advance of the course as to which programmes will be demonstrated in the class, should they choose to download it in advance of the course.

Hardware Requirements

None - see software requirements, as participants may wish to bring their own laptops.


Archival Research

Lindsay Prior, “Repositioning Documents in Social Research,” Sociology, Vol. 42, No. 5 (2008), pp. 821-836.

Victor Jupp, “Documents and Critical Research,” in Roger Sapsford and Victor Jupp (eds.) Data Collection and Analysis (Sage Publications, 1996), pp. 298-316.

Louise H. Kidder, et al., Research Methods in Social Relations (New York: Holt Reinhart and Winston, 1986), chapter 12, pp. 299-311.

James M. Goldgeier, “Training Graduate Students  in Conducting archival Research,” NewsNet (October 2004) [Describes GWU Cold War summer school program teaching students how to use Russian and U.S. archives in the study of foreign policy and IR]

Marc Trachtenberg, The Craft of International History: A Guide to Method (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Edward Ingram, “The Wonderland of the Political Scientist,” International Security, Vol. 22 (1997), pp. 53-63.

Michael R. Hill, Archival Strategies and Techniques (Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1993), pp. 1-50.


Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design

Albert D. Cover and Bruce S. Brumberg, “Baby Books and Ballots: The Impact of Congressional Mail n Constituent Opinion,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 76 (June 1982), pp. 347-359.

Rose McDermott, “Experimental Methods in Political Science,” Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 5 (2002), pp. 31-61.

Macartan Humphreys and Jeremy Weinstein, “Field Experiments and the Political Economy of Development,” Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 12 (2009), pp. 367-378.

Thad Dunning, “Improving Causal Inference: Strengths and Limitations of Natural Experiments,” Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 61 (2008), pp. 282-293.

Timothy N Cason and Vai-Lam Mui, “Testing Political Economy Models of Reform in the Laboratory,” American Economic Association, Papers and Proceedings, Vol. 93, No. 2 (May 2003), pp. 208-212.

Rose McDermott, Political Psychology in International Relations (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004).


Most-likely, Least-likely, and Deviant Cases

E. L. Morse, Foreign Policy and Interdependence in Gaullist France (Princeton University Press, 1973), chapter 5 on monetary policy. [least-likely case]

Jack S. Levy, “Case Studies: Types, Designs, and Logics of Inference. Conflict Management and Peace Science, Vol. 25, No. 1 (2008), pp. 1-18.

Harry Eckstein, “Case Studies and Theory in Political Science,” in Fred Greenstein and Nelson Polsby (eds.) Handbook of Political Science, Vol. 7 (Addison-Wesley, 1975), pp. 79-138.

William M. LeoGrande, “Cuban Dependency: A Comparison of Pre-Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary International Economic Relations,” Cuban Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (July 1979), pp. 1-28. [most-likely case]

J. Berejekian, “The Gains Debate: Framing State Choice,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 91 (1997), pp. 789-805. [disciplined-configurative case study]

Alexander L. and Juliette L. George, Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House:   A Personality Study (New York: John Day, 1956). [disciplined-configurative case study]

Richard Price, “A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Taboo,” International Organization, Vol. 49 (1995), pp. 73-103. [constructivist interpretation]

Arend Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands (University of California Press, 1968). [deviant case study]

Bruce Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace (Princeton University Press, 1993), chapter 3. [deviant case study]


Comparative Historical Analysis

Peter A. Hall, “Aligning Ontology and Methodology in Comparative Politics. In J. Mahoney & D. Rueschemeyer (Eds.), Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (pp. 373-404). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

James Mahoney, “Strategies of Causal Assessment in Comparative Historical Analysis,” in James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds) Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 2003), chapter 10 (pp. 337-372).

Sven Steinmo, “Political Institutions and Tax Policy in the United States, Sweden, and Britain,” World Politics, Vol. 41, No. 4 (July 1989), pp. 500-535.

Theda Skocpol, “Doubly Engaged Social Science.” In Mahoney, James and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds): Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences (Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 407-428.

Theda Skocpol and Margaret Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History in Macrosocial Inquiry,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 1980), pp. 174-197.

Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).

Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966).

Ruth Berins Collier and David Collier, Shaping the Political Arena: Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement, and Regime Dynamics in Latin America (Princeton University Press, 1991).

James Mahoney, “Long-Run Development and the Legacy of Colonialism in Spanish America,” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 109, No. 1 (2003), pp. 51-106.

Alexander Hicks, Joya Misra, and Tang Nah Ng, “The Programmatic Emergence of the Social Security State,” American Sociological Review, Vol. 60, No. 3 (June 1995), pp. 329-349.

Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, “China and India,” in Dreze and Sen (eds.) Hunger and Public Action (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), chap. 11.

Daniel Ziblatt, “Rethinking the Origins of Federalism: Puzzle, Theory and Evidence from Nineteenth Century Europe,” World Politics (October 2004), pp. 70-98.

Gregory M. Luebbert, Liberalism, Fascism, or Social Democracy: Social Classes and the Political Origins of Regimes in Interwar Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).


Mixed Methods and Nested Analysis

Evan S. Lieberman, “Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 99 (August 2005), pp. 435-452.

Todd D. Jick, “Mixing Quantitative and Qualitative Methods: Triangulation in Action,” Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 1979), pp. 602-611.

Jack Levy, “Qualitative Methods and Cross-Method Dialogue in Political Science,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 40, No. 2 (February 2007), pp. 196-214.

Ingo Rohlfing, “What You See is What You Get: Pitfalls and Principles of Nested Analysis in Comparative Research,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 41, No. 11 (2008), pp. 1492-1514.

Michael Coppedge, “Thickening Thin Concepts and Theories: Combining Large N and Small in Comparative Politics,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 31, No. 4 (July 1999), pp. 465-476.

John Brewer and Albert Hunter, Foundations of Multimethod Research: Synthesizing Styles (Sage Publications, 2006).


Writing the Dissertation

Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methodology for Students of Political Science (Cornell University Press, 1997), pp. 89-121.

Howard W. Becker, Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish your Thesis, Book or Article (University of Chicago Press, 1986).

“On Writing a Dissertation: Advice from Five Award Winners,” PS: Political Science and Politics (1986), pp. 61-70.

Patrick Dunleavy, Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).

Monique Leijenaar and Emiliano Grossman, “Doing a PhD in Political Science in Europe: Information, Facts, Debate,” Paris: Thematic Network Political Science, 2009.

Michael Goldsmith (ed.), “Doctoral Studies in Political Science—A European Comparison,” Budapest: espNet, 2005.

Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

John M. Swales and Christine B. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (University of Michigan Press, 2004).

Jonathan P. Kastellec and Eduardo L. Leoni, “Using Graphs Instead of Tables in Political Science,” Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2007), pp. 755-771.


Academic Writing and Publishing

William Strunk, Jr. and E. G. White, The Elements of Style, 2nd edition, (New York: Macmillan, 1972).

Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Readable Writing (New York: Collier, 1949).

Mary-Claire van Leunen, A Handbook for Scholars (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Teresa Pelton Johnson, “Writing for International Security—A Contributor’s Guide,” International Security, Vol. 16, No. 2 (September 1991), pp. 171-180.

Benjamin Frankel, “A Guide to Authors, for Contributors to Security Studies,” Working Paper (November 2001).

Anne Lamont, “Shitty First Drafts,” in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anchor, 1995), pp. 21-27.

William Germano, Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

Kwan Choi, “How to Publish in Top Journals,” Manuscript posted at the website of Review of International Economics,

Gerald Schneider, Bernard Steunenberg, Katharina Holzinger, and Nils Petter Gleditsch, “Symposium: Why European Political Science is so Unproductive and What Should be Done About It,” European Political Science, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2007), pp. 156-191.

Paul J. Silvia, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007).

The following other ECPR Methods School courses could be useful in combination with this one in a ‘training track .
Recommended Courses Before

Comparative Research Designs

Research Design Fundamentals

Recommended Courses After

Introduction to NVivo for Qualitative Data Analysis

Introduction to Qualitative Data Analysis with Atlas.ti

Causal Inference for Political and Social Sciences

Interpretive Interviewing

Field Research

Additional Information


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed in due time.

Note from the Academic Convenors

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, contact the instructor before registering.

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