Process Tracing in Case Study Research

This resource examines some of the philosophy science issues related to process tracing, including the roles of causal effects and causal mechanisms in causal explanation and the logic of process tracing. It considers how process tracing stands in relation to common misunderstandings of case study methods and discusses the inductive and theory-testing uses of process tracing. It conclude with views on the strengths and weaknesses of process tracing.


  • Introduction
  • Causal Effects and Causal Mechanisms as Bases for Causal Inferences
  • Process Tracing as a Mode of Inferences on Causal Mechanisms
  • Process-Tracing and Historical Explanation
  • Process Tracing and the "Degrees of Freedom Problem"
  • Process Tracing as a Corrective for the Limits of Mill's Methods
  • Inductive and Theory-Testing Uses of Process Tracing
  • Conclusions


Bennett B and George A L. (1997), Process Tracing in Case Study Research    MacArthur Foundation Workshop on Case Study Methods October 17-19, Georgetown University and Stanford University, USA. Retrieved from

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Research Assistant, RMIT University.


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