Putting the special case in its place. Switzerland and small-N comparisons in policy research.

(2008) Swiss Political Science Review 14(2): 521-550 (with Marie-Christine Fontana and Yannis Papadopoulos)

This research note presents a set of strategies to conduct small-N comparisons in policy research including the Swiss case. Even though every country can be considered “special” to some extent, the Swiss political system is often viewed as a particularly difficult case for comparison because of the impact of its idiosyncratic institutional features (most notably direct democracy). In order to deal with this problem, our note sets out two possible strategies – the use of functional equivalents and of counterfactual reasoning – and explains how to implement them empirically through process tracing and the establishment of causal chains. As an illustration, these strategies are used for a comparison of the process of electricity market liberalisation in Switzerland and Belgium

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