The Case Study. Hugh Willmott Research Professor in Organizational Analysis Cardiff Business School Home Page : http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/close/hr22/hcwhome. Outline of Session. The Case Study – Features and Relevance Types of Case Study Issues in Case Study Research
Research Professor in Organizational Analysis
Cardiff Business School
Home Page : http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/close/hr22/hcwhome
Might be sufficient to `test’ a theory that is well formulated
Uniqueness of case may be sufficient justification for studying it
Under-researched areas may require opening up through depth provided by single case
Focus and depth
Possibility of comparisons and contrasts
More diverse materials for generating or testing theory (some parallels with stratified sampling)
Facilitates exploration of different aspects or dimensions of phenomena that are concentrated in particular cases
Diversity and breadthSingle v. Multiple Cases?
Dotted line is explained on the next slide
Case Study Process. Extract from R.K. Yin (2003), 3rd ed., Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage, p. 50
`An important part of [the figure] is the dotted line feedback loop. The loop represents a situation in which an important discovery occurs during the conduct of one of the individual case studies – for example, one of the cases did not in fact suit the original design.
R.K. Yin (2003), 3rd ed, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage, pp 50-51
What other examples of `feedback loops’ can you think of? (see also next slide)
`…”how” and “why” questions are more explanatory and likely to lead to the use of case studies… as the preferred research strategies. This is because such questions deal with operational links needing to be traced over time, rather than mere frequencies or incidence’ (R.K. Yin (2003), 3rd ed., Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage
See next slide re. Yin’s examples of matching research strategy/ methodology to a research issue
Extract from R.K.Yin (2004), 3 and Methodologiesrd ed, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage, p. 4Example of a Descriptive Case Study
Street Corner Society by William F. Whyte (1943/1955) has for decades been recommended reading in the field of community sociology. The book is a classic example of a descriptive case study.
1. It traces the sequence of interpersonal events over time, describes a subculture that had rarely been the topic of previous study, and discovers key phenomena, such as the career advancement of lower-income youths and their ability (or inability) to break neighborhood ties.
2. The study has been highly regarded despite its being a single-case study, covering one neighborhood ("Cornerville").
3. The value of the book is, paradoxically, its generalizability to issues of individual performance, group structure, and the social structure of neighborhoods. Later investigators have repeatedly found remnants of Cornerville in their work, even though they have studied different neighborhoods and different time periods.
Exercise: What might be problematical about Yin’s formulation?
Extract from R.K.Yin (2004), 3 and Methodologiesrd ed, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage, p. 4Example of an Explanatory Case Study – Allison, 1971 (1)
Extract from R.K.Yin (2004), 3 and Methodologiesrd ed, Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage, p. 4Example of an Explanatory Case Study – Allison, 1971 (2)
Allison compares the capacity of (a) - (c) to explain the course of events in the crisis:
The case study shows the explanatory, and not just descriptive or exploratory, functions of single case studies. The lessons from the case study are intended to be generalizable not only to foreign affairs more broadly but also to a whole variety of complex governmental actions. In this way, the arguments of the book, which are even more thoughtfully presented in its second edition (Allison & Zelikow, 1999), forcefully demonstrates how a single-case study can be the basis for significant explanations and generalizations.
Re. questionnaire design and Methodologies: `it is important to note that questionnaire designers need to be aware that, although they may have a highly reliable measure, it may not necessarily be measuring what it is intended to measure: reliability does not necessarily imply validity…’ J,Gill and P.Johnson (2002), 3rd ed., Research Methods for Managers, London: Sage, p118Validity Issues
We return to these issues in Week 9
See next slide re. Bryman’s comments on the misunderstanding of the value of case studies
`There are grounds for thinking that the “problem” of case study generalization entails a misunderstanding of the aims of such research. In particular, this misconception arises from a tendency to approach a case study as if it were a sample of one drawn from a wider universe of such cases. There at least two reasons for considering this view to be misguided’
(A. Bryman, 1988, Quality and Quantity in Social Research, London: Routledge, p. 90)
Some have suggested that `Generalization is…(a) word…that should be reserved for surveys only. What can be analysed instead is how the researcher demonstrates that the analysis relates to things beyond the material at hand… extrapolation better captures the typical procedure in qualitative research’
P. Alasuutari (1995), Researching Culture: Qualitative Method and Cultural Studies, London: Sage, p.156-7 cited in D. Silverman (2005), 2nd ed. Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook, London: Sage, p. 136
The following set of question is adapted from `Research Skills for Management Studies’ (adapted from p. 132) where Alan Thomas proposes an exercise that could be applied to `The Executive Fix’
`There is a growing view that qualitative research ought to be more consciously driven by theoretical concerns, in contrast to the belief (with which qualitative research is more usually associated) that theoretical reflection ought to be delayed until a later stage of the research process. Ironically, the “front loading” of theory in qualitative research brings it much closer to the model of the quantitative research process outlined in Figure 2.1’ (see next slide)
A. Bryman (1988), Quality and Quantity in Social Research, London: Routledge, p. 91
The Logical Structure of the Quantitative Research Process, Bryman, 1988:20
`In the course of dealing with criticisms [e.g. about internal and external validity] of the case study strategy there has been a tendency to codify procedures for researching cases, so making the approach more explicit and more accessible.
Yin’s Case Study Research: Design and Methods is an influential example of this proceduralizing trend; it provides comprehensive guidance on how to carry out case studies from origination to writing up.
However, as with any elaboration of research methods, it is as well to be aware of the dangers of falling into methodolatry: in research, slavishly following procedures is no substitute for applying imaginative intelligence’
(Thomas, 2004: 1334, emphasis added)