Many evaluations of infrastructure projects rely on methods that ignore the complexity of the projects. Although case studies are attentive to project complexity, it is difficult to identify general patterns that would apply to a larger sample of projects. Qualitative comparative analysis is a method that preserves the complexity of projects and generates insights across cases. In this contribution, we discuss our experiences with using qualitative comparative analysis for the evaluation of the planning and implementation of complex infrastructure projects. We will provide a short introduction into the main properties of the method (complex causality, systematic comparison) as well as describe some of the main operations (calibration, truth table analysis, interpretation). This will serve to demonstrate why qualitative comparative analysis is a fitting evaluation method in project development and implementation. Next, we will show how we used the method in a research project that aimed to find out under what conditions unplanned events in the implementation of infrastructure projects were dealt with satisfactorily, that is, what it took to respond to these events in an apt manner. Based on our experiences, we will summarize main lessons learned for conducting qualitative comparative analysis proper and provide suggestions for further reading.
Publication | Verweij, S. & Gerrits, L.M. (2019). Evaluating infrastructure project planning and implementation: A study using qualitative comparative analysis. Sage Research Methods Cases, 2, 1-16.