Process Tracing is a procedure of identifying and testing causal mechanisms (events, actions, processes, expectations, or any other intervening variables) that link supposed causes to observed effects. The key idea behind this procedure is to conduct tests of co-variations between putative causes and obtained effects through generating and analyzing data on apparent causal mechanisms. Process tracing is widely used in many fields including business process control and project management.
Tracing a process means undertaking a continuous auditing and testing activity to identity a specific piece of process data and then track this data back to the original state of the process by following a trail made by causal mechanisms.
The procedure of process tracing can be carried out in two different approaches, which are briefly explained below:
- Verification is a method of testing a given process observed among case variables to determine whether the process matches predictions that have been made by previously designated theories.
- Induction is an approach of inductively observing apparent causal mechanisms of a process and heuristically interpreting these mechanisms as potential hypotheses for future testing of the process.