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A Combination of Methods. The Way Forward in Coalition Research
Unformatted Document Text:  22 of causal mechanisms, and for the explorative study of new explanatory variables. We argue that these two goals can be attained if we select cases for intensive analysis on the basis of the predictions made in the statistical analysis. We illustrate how such case selection can be performed by giving some examples of cases that are predicted by the best statistical model presented in the large-n analysis. By using the method of process verification to analyze government formation in these predicted cases, we show that it is possible to investigate the causal mechanisms underlying some effects found the statistical analysis. We also show that it is possible to investigate competing hypothesized mechanisms for the same variable, as in the case of incumbency effect. Moreover, we select some cases that are deviant (amongst those that were not predicted by our models). The study of such deviant cases can combined with the method of process induction give us several insights as to what kind of new explanatory variables are needed to fully explain coalition formation. Incidentally, we found that contextual and intervening variables seemed to affect both our predicted and unpredicted cases, a finding that is encouraging in the subsequent task of theory building. We hope that this illustrative study which combines an application of a multivariate statistical model to a large-n data set and an application of process tracing in a small number of case studies of coalition formation will encourage future coalition researchers to take advantage of the fact that the combination of large-n and small-n methods has the potential to “offset the limits of either method used alone” (Bennett 2002: 1). Such a combination of methods could thereby provide the next step of scientific advance in research on government formation, and we therefore argue that this methodological approach is the way forward in this discipline, and potentially in many other areas of research. Literature Andeweg, Rudy. 2002. “Purple Puzzles: The 1994 and 1998 Government Formations in the Netherlands and Coalition Theory”. Paper presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions in Torino, March 22–27, 2002. Alvarez, R. Michael, and Jonathan Nagler. 1998. “When Politics and Models Collide: Estimating Models of Multiparty Elections”. American Journal of Political Science 42: 55–96. Axelrod, Robert. 1970. Conflict of Interest. Chicago: Markham Publishing Company. Bennett, Andrew. 1999. “Causal Inference in Case Studies: From Mill’s Methods to Causal Mechanisms”. Paper presented at the American Political Science Association Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, 1999. Bennett, Andrew. 2002. “Where the Model Frequently Meets the Road: Combining Statistical, Formal, and Case Study Methods”. Paper prepared for presentation at the 2002 APSA Conference in Boston, August 29–September 1, 2002. Bennett, Andrew, and Alexander George. 1997. “Process Tracing in Case Study Research”. Paper presented at the MacArthur Foundation Workshop on Case Study Methods, BCSIA Harvard University, October 17–19, 1997. Bergman, Torbjörn. 1993. “Formation Rules and Minority Governments”. European Journal of Political Research, 23: 55–66.

Authors: Bäck, Hanna. and Dumont, Patrick.
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22
of causal mechanisms, and for the explorative study of new explanatory variables.
We argue that these two goals can be attained if we select cases for intensive
analysis on the basis of the predictions made in the statistical analysis.
We illustrate how such case selection can be performed by giving some
examples of cases that are predicted by the best statistical model presented in the
large-n analysis. By using the method of process verification to analyze
government formation in these predicted cases, we show that it is possible to
investigate the causal mechanisms underlying some effects found the statistical
analysis. We also show that it is possible to investigate competing hypothesized
mechanisms for the same variable, as in the case of incumbency effect. Moreover,
we select some cases that are deviant (amongst those that were not predicted by our
models). The study of such deviant cases can combined with the method of process
induction give us several insights as to what kind of new explanatory variables are
needed to fully explain coalition formation. Incidentally, we found that contextual
and intervening variables seemed to affect both our predicted and unpredicted
cases, a finding that is encouraging in the subsequent task of theory building.
We hope that this illustrative study which combines an application of a
multivariate statistical model to a large-n data set and an application of process
tracing in a small number of case studies of coalition formation will encourage
future coalition researchers to take advantage of the fact that the combination of
large-n and small-n methods has the potential to “offset the limits of either method
used alone” (Bennett 2002: 1). Such a combination of methods could thereby
provide the next step of scientific advance in research on government formation,
and we therefore argue that this methodological approach is the way forward in this
discipline, and potentially in many other areas of research.
Literature
Andeweg, Rudy. 2002. “Purple Puzzles: The 1994 and 1998 Government Formations in the
Netherlands and Coalition Theory”. Paper presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions in
Torino, March 22
–27, 2002.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Jonathan Nagler. 1998. “When Politics and Models Collide:
Estimating Models of Multiparty Elections”. American Journal of Political Science 42:
55–96.
Axelrod, Robert. 1970. Conflict of Interest. Chicago: Markham Publishing Company.
Bennett, Andrew. 1999. “Causal Inference in Case Studies: From Mill’s Methods to Causal
Mechanisms”. Paper presented at the American Political Science Association
Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, 1999
.
Bennett, Andrew. 2002. “Where the Model Frequently Meets the Road: Combining
Statistical, Formal, and Case Study Methods”. Paper prepared for presentation at the
2002 APSA Conference in Boston, August 29
–September 1, 2002.
Bennett, Andrew, and Alexander George. 1997. “Process Tracing in Case Study Research”.
Paper presented at the MacArthur Foundation Workshop on Case Study Methods,
BCSIA Harvard University, October 17
–19, 1997.
Bergman, Torbjörn. 1993. “Formation Rules and Minority Governments”. European
Journal of Political Research, 23: 55–66.


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