Qualitative Comparative Analysis – A Rigorous Qualitative Method for Assessing Impact

Ths guide, written by Carrie Baptist and Barbara Befani for Coffey, provides an outline of the use of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and includes a case study of its use in the evaluation of a major programme. The paper also emphasises the requirements for using QCA and details a step by step guide for implementing the process as part of an evaluation. 


"As a comparative method, QCA doesn’t work with a single case – it needs to compare factors at work across a number of cases in order to tease out which factors are most important for a given outcome. However, when done correctly the findings generated using QCA are generalizable: insights from one context or project can be transferred to another. QCA is also a rigorous method in that – when the analysis process is made transparent – it can be replicated by anyone and produce the same findings.

To put it a bit more technically, QCA is potentially strong on both external and internal validity while still being a qualitative method: it works with social concepts, constructs and narratives."


  • What is Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and what can it do?
  • Testing Theories of Change and engaging with complexity
  • How has it been used to-date?
  • What does QCA require?
  • Limitations of QCA
  • The QCA process: Step by step


Baptist, C., and Befani, B. (2015). Qualitative Comparative Analysis – A Rigorous Qualitative Method for Assessing Impact, Coffey. Retrieved from: http://www.coffey.com/assets/Ingenuity/Qualitative-Comparative-Analysis-June-2015.pdf

No votes yet
Rate this Resource:
This resource is useful for:
A special thanks to this page's contributors


There are currently no comments. Be the first to comment on this page!

Add new comment

Login Login and comment as BetterEvaluation member or simply fill out the fields below.