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Sarah Delputte and Jan Orbie

Although the European Union (EU) has always been a major actor in international development, literature on development policy within the discipline of EU studies is relatively limited in terms of quantity and relatively light in terms of theorizing. Against this background, we propose an abductive research strategy, involving a continuous interaction between theory and empirics, to study EU development policy. We also present clear guidelines on how to engage in abductive research and illustrate this approach with illustrations from our own research on four case studies: (1) EU coordination in sub-Saharan Africa, (2) the rise of Policy Coherence for Development, (3) the changing development consensus in the EU, and (4) the Europeanization of aid. Hence the dual objectives of this chapter: first, to argue why abduction is useful and even necessary for studying EU development policy, and second, to illustrate concretely how this can be done in practice.