Paolo Belardinelli and Valentina Mele
This chapter begins with framing Mixed Methods (MMs) as a research approach that serves the purpose of a pragmatic discipline such as Public Administration. It then offers a classification of MM designs based on the methods that are mixed and on their sequencing. First, it introduces both between-methods (quanti-quali) and within-methods (quali-quali or quanti-quanti) combinations. Second, based on the logical and chronological combination of methods in a design, it distinguishes between parallel designs (the combination of different methods to triangulate results that serve the same research question) and sequential designs (the combinations of methods in two or more consecutive phases). The chapter proceeds by highlighting some challenges of MMs, such as the resources and time needed to conduct parallel or sequential projects and the fact that the richness of data as well as the need to combine them properly are not easily condensed in a single study. Despite these challenges, the chapter encourages to employ MMs, as they perform three distinctive functions, exemplified here through illustrative studies. These functions include exploring the underlying mechanisms of specific correlations (the ‘how’ and ‘why’), helping scholars to deal with unexpected results and operationalizing theoretical constructs that can then be tested.