Student Theses and Projects: Qualitative Comparative Analysis Techniques in Information Systems Research


Thesis (BA/MA/DA) - Reference number 2019-188

Advisor(s): David Soto Setzke


Originating from political science research, the data analysis technique Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is now being used in various fields such as education, environmental science, or health research. In the last years, scholars from the Information Systems (IS) field have increasingly called for research that uses QCA to challenge traditional research models and results. QCA and its variants (such as fuzzy-set QCA, multi-value QCA, or crisp-set QCA) is used to identify configurational patterns that lead to certain outcomes (Ragin 2008). While traditional, correlational data analysis techniques like regression are based on symmetric, linear relationships, QCA proposes that the outcome of dependent variables is influenced by the interplay of several independent variables (Fiss 2011; Ragin 2008). This makes is possible to extract patterns of configurations, while different configurations can lead to the same outcome, also known as the concept of equifinality (Gresov and Drazin 1997). QCA is a tool to explain the causality and dynamics of complex systems by comparing cases with distinct outcomes. Unlike regression analysis, QCA is especially well-suited for small and medium-sized samples (Fiss 2011; Ragin 2008). The goal of this thesis is to analyze to what extent QCA variants are being used in contemporary IS research and how these approaches differ from each other. Based on this, the student will identify good and bad practices regarding the use of QCA and derive recommendations and guidelines for researchers in the IS field.

Potential Task(s)

  • Identify and classify high-quality IS publications that employ QCA approaches
  • Identify good and bad practices regarding QCA in contemporary IS research
  • Derive recommendations for IS researchers regarding the use of QCA


  • High degree of autonomy and individual responsibility
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • First or extended experiences in Qualitative Comparative Analysis are an advantage
  • Excellent skills in written English

Further Information

The topic can be adopted according to your interests. The thesis can be written in English or German. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please send your application including our application form, "Notenauszug" from TUMonline, and CV to Please note that we can only consider applications with complete documents.