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Theory Testing With Single-Case Designs and Small-N Comparative Research: Studying Ministerial Accountability in Semipresidential Systems

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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My PhD research focused on the decision-making process that leads to ministers being fired in semipresidential systems. Although scholars of parliamentary government study cabinet members solely as prime ministerial agents, I adopted a three-principal-agent model to examine ministerial accountability in semipresidential countries, where both directly elected presidents and parliaments are involved in the formation and survival of cabinets. Using a small-N comparison of ministerial resignations in France, Portugal, and Romania, my thesis examined the effect of institutions and parties on ministerial deselection through the use of quantitative case studies. This approach consists of combining a data collection method that generates a large number of observations from the context with a quantifying technique that relies on the qualitative analysis of each observation before it is transformed into a number. This case focuses on the process of data collection and analysis and the challenges of using them for both qualitative and quantitative analyses. The case also highlights the research design choices entailed by crafting a small-N comparative study, such as the formulation of a research question and testable hypotheses and the selection of cases for comparison.

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