Bridging Boundaries with a Transnational Research Approach: A Simultaneous Matched Sample Methodology
Conducting research on a transnational topic poses the challenge to researchers of finding a good balance between depth and breadth. Transnational phenomena, by their very nature, cross nation-state borders – be they related to people, ideas, goods, or institutions. Various scholars have suggested that multi-sited research lends itself well to understanding these cross-border flows. In his seminal article, Marcus (1995) proposed six possibilities: follow the people, things, metaphors, stories, lives, and/or conflicts. Yet for researchers who have since employed this or similar research approaches, the challenge has been to combine multiple locations with an in-depth understanding of the different localities, as well as to be able to contextualize the often fragmented information that one gets from multiple sites (Rutten 2007). So while Appadurai (2000) argues that local area studies are a thing of the past (given that most social phenomena involve or are affected by crossboundary flows), others, like Mintz (1998), Burawoy (2000) and Rutten (2007), argue that the local anchoring of research is necessary to gain in-depth knowledge of globalizing processes.