Universität Mannheim / Sowi / LSSOZ3 / english / ESPAnet Workshop / Call of papers (ended)

ESPAnet doctoral workshop 2013
at Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES),
University of Mannheim, Germany

Comparing Welfare States: 
Applying Quantitative and Qualitative Comparative Analysis in
Social Policy Research

Mannheim, Germany, July 4-6, 2013

Comparison plays an important role in welfare state research. Explaining cross-national variations has been a major contribution of welfare state regime analysis following Esping-Andersen’s seminal Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Since Charles Ragin’s The Comparative Method the systematic study of few qualitative cases has been advanced by more formalized methods, in particular the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) for small-N and Fuzzy Set QCA for medium-N studies. Applications of these methods in social policy research have grown in recent years, including comparisons of welfare state regime typologies and public policy reforms.

Comparison is also common in quantitative analyses. Macro-comparisons include cluster, factor or principal component analysis to test regime typologies. Pooled time-series analysis also uses a limited number of countries to explore cross-national variation, while also studying changes over time. Moreover, empirical cross-national research in the social policy field includes increasingly national and individual level data in multi-level analyses or two step quantitative procedures. Examples include studies of attitudes toward welfare states or analysis of social inequality data in different labour markets and minimum income systems.

Whether macro-comparative or multilevel analysis, such cross-national studies face similar problems of a too small N and rather limited diversity of observable national units of analysis. The selection of cases and appropriate research strategy thus becomes a major challenge in comparative analyses of welfare states and social policy in international perspective.  

This doctoral workshop seeks to address the methodological challenges and different research strategies of comparative methods. It invites Ph.D. students to submit and present papers in the fields of comparative welfare state and cross-national social policy analysis. Especially welcome are papers that reflect explicitly on the use of comparative methods and research methodologies in their dissertation projects. Thus papers can be methodological and / or empirical papers discussing the use of comparative methods and / or exemplify their adaptation to comparative social policy analysis.

Papers might for example explore methods and topics such as:

  • Cross-national comparison of welfare state regimes
  • Comparing social policymaking with QCA or Fuzzy-set Methods
  • Multi-level analysis of value survey data on welfare state attitudes
  • Comparing national panel data on social inequality


Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Chair in Macrosociology, University of Mannheim

Speakers and commentators

Professor Michael Braun, GESIS and University of Mannheim, Germany

Professor Patrick Emmenegger, Political Science, Hochschule St. Gallen, Switzerland

Dr Emanuele Ferragina, Social Policy, Oxford University, UK

Professor Jon Kvist, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Professor Wim van Oorschot, Catholic University (KU), Leuven, Belgium

Professor Claudius Wagemann, Method Centre, Goethe University, Frankfurt. Germany

Further commentators

Dr Thomas Bahle, MZES, University of Mannheim, Germany

Dr Jan Drahokoupil, MZES, University of Mannheim, Germany & ETUI, Brussels, Belgium

Dr. Nathalie Giger, MZES, University of Mannheim, Germany

Dr Dirk Hofäcker, MZES, University of Mannheim, Germany

Dr. Sebastian Koos, University of Mannheim, Germany

Professor J. Timo Weishaupt, University of Mannheim, Germany

Professor Claus Wendt, University of Siegen and SFB 884 Mannheim, Germany

Organizational coordination

Dr. Sebastian Koos, University of Mannheim, Germany


Format of the workshop


This doctoral workshop will allow 20 PhD researchers to present their own work to colleagues and experienced researchers. It will provide doctoral researchers with a platform for presenting their work in small groups and to receive constructive comments from their peers and the senior researchers. In addition, there will be presentations by experienced researchers and experts to all participants, allowing doctoral researchers to play a role as allocated commentator or take part in the general discussion.


As a part of the workshop, there will be an introduction and 6 plenary lectures on selected issues of comparative methods delivered by the senior researchers, including topics such as qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), fuzzy-set analysis (FS/QCA), cross-national regime comparison, comparative historical method, multi-level methods, survey analysis and a presentation on the European Data Centre (EDAC).

Length of each paper session

There will be 3 groups, working in parallel and each group (A, B, C) will meet 4 times for two hours. Each PhD researcher will have 60 minutes allocated to their work. During this hour they will introduce their paper, providing an overview of the content and argument (approximately 10 minutes), followed by critical comments and questions from a predefined senior lead discussant (approximately 10 minutes). The author then has a ‘right of reply’ (approx. 10 minutes), before general discussion of the paper (approx. 30 minutes).

Distribution of papers

All papers will be electronically pre-circulated to all participants, at least 14 days in advance of the workshop. Participants are required to read the papers in their group, and are required to attend and prepare all lectures (there will be one article or paper per lecture as background reading). The organizer will allocate students into groups well in advance of the workshops. The selection into groups will be based on similar research topics, methodologies or analytical approaches.


Accommodation (two nights), lunch and dinners will be paid for by the University of Mannheim. ESPAnet acknowledges this generous support gratefully.

Ph.D. students are expected to pay for their travel to Mannheim and additional meals; no fee will be charged for the workshop.


Mannheim is well connected to the international rail network. For information see: www.bahn.de (multilingual site).  Closest airport connection to Mannheim is Frankfurt airport (FRA), 30-35 min. by train from Mannheim main station (Hauptbahnhof).

The workshop will take place at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) in Square A5 (http://www.mzes.uni-mannheim.de/d7/en/directions), a 15-20 minute walk or short bus ride from the main station.

Application Deadline

Participants will be selected on the basis of the quality of their plans for their papers and the fit to the workshop theme. Please send the plan including: title of paper, outline (up to 600 words on rationale for the topic, analytical framework, and research strategy/methods used), the name of supervisor(s) and brief description of current state of your thesis project (e.g. when did you start and when do you aim to finish), with your name, email and address to: espanet2013ma@gmail.com

Deadline of application:  3 March 2013

Successful applicants will be notified by 15 March 2013.

Final papers

The final paper will have to be submitted a month in advance by June 4, 2013 as word or PDF-file to espanet2013ma@gmail.com. All papers will be made available to the discussant and all workshop participants via a password protected webpage.

Workshop details

Begin: Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 1 pm (13.00) Registration / 2 pm (14.00) Welcome

End: Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 1 pm (13.00) (optional lunch snack till 2 pm, 14.00)

Further information (schedule) will be provided in June.  


In case you have any questions please contact the organizational coordinator Sebastian Koos (skoos@sowi.uni-mannheim.de).