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Navigating Multidisciplinary Demands to Produce an Interdisciplinary Mixed-Methods Research on Generalized Trust in Fragile States

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study provides researchers of all levels of experience instruction on establishing an interdisciplinary mixed-methods research design amid myriad challenges. Building trust between members of a multidisciplinary research team is not an easy task, but building trust between strangers in collectivist societies governed by fragile states that are subject to unstable market forces is much more challenging. Recent data and measurement advancements on generalized trust have generated promising research opportunities in this area that few have pursued. This case study guides the reader through my multidisciplinary doctoral dissertation experience of examining the improbable expansion of generalized trust in the fragile sub-Saharan African states of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Nigeria to fill this gap in the literature. The process was full of compromises due to the immature state of the trust in fragile states literature, a protracted debate over inference via process tracing, and competing interests of dissertation committee members, yet the research still advances the literature by demonstrating that trust between strangers can increase in fragile states. Its empirical examination is built upon an interdisciplinary theoretical framework merging sociological institutionalism and social capital theory, producing a theoretically generalizable model tested through a mixed-methods research design, which incorporates a deviant least likely case selection of test and control cases and the mixing of most similar multiple cross-case comparison with within-case analysis. Best practices for each of these complex research processes are explained thoroughly. Through this case study, undergraduate researchers gain insight into how the research process can often go awry and graduate researchers receive guidance on research team and dissertation committee selection and suggestions for designing workable compromises that contribute to the literature.

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