Qualitative comparative analysis is an established research method that has been underutilized in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) research. It has immense potential for addressing the complexity inherent to WASH projects, and can produce robust and transparent results from intermediate or large numbers of cases. The method enables researchers and practitioners to blend quantitative and qualitative metrics to build more nuanced contextual knowledge, and is able to detect combinations of causal conditions that lead to outcomes of interest. This means that the method is uniquely positioned for building empirically founded theories of change that reflect contextual complexity. In this review paper we use hypothetical data and a review of the existing literature to showcase where and how the method can be productively applied in WASH research and practice.
- First received 3 October 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 18 January 2017.
- © 2017 The Authors
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