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IS8004 Seminar 5. The Case Study. A Case Study is an empirical inquiry that:. …investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when …the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident ( Yin 2002 ). Epistemology?. Case studies can be

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is8004 seminar 5

IS8004 Seminar 5

The Case Study

a case study is an empirical inquiry that
A Case Study is an empirical inquiry that:
  • …investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when
  • …the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (Yin 2002).
  • Case studies can be
    • Positivist (e.g. Benbasat et al., 1987)
    • Interpretivist (e.g. Walsham, 1993)
    • Critical (e.g. Myers, 1994)
  • Case studies can also be
    • Exploratory, Descriptive or Explanatory
  • Case studies are very suitable to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions
when to use the case study method
When To Use the Case Study Method?
  • The case study is preferred in examining contemporary events, but when the relevant behaviors cannot be manipulated.
  • Case studies rely on direct observation, and systematic interviewing.
  • Case studies do not permit experimental manipulations and controls are very hard to enact
criticisms of the method
Criticisms of the Method
  • Insufficient rigour
    • Compared to experimental research
      • But actually experiments are not automatically precise or unbiased
  • Inadequate basis for generalisation
      • Which is why multiple cases are conducted
      • The results of a case study investigation can be generalised to theory and can inform theory development
key components
Key Components
  • Research questions - how and why
  • Research propositions (if any) but not hypotheses
    • That reflect an important theoretical issue and indicate where to look for relevant evidence
  • Unit(s) of analysis
    • What are we studying? Units, people, individuals?
    • What does the data describe?
  • Logic that links the data to the propositions
  • The criteria for interpreting the findings.
single case design
Single Case Design
  • The focal case is used to test a well-formulated theory
    • The case meets all the criteria for testing the theory
  • The case represents an extreme or unique case
  • The revelatory case
    • A situation that occurs when the investigator has an opportunity to observe and analyze a phenomenon previously inaccessible to scientific investigation.
  • A single case may have multiple units of analysis
multiple case design
Multiple Case Design
  • This means that the same study has two or more cases
  • The evidence from multiple cases is often considered more compelling, which makes the overall study more robust.
  • Undertaking a multiple case study can require extensive resources and time beyond the means of a single researcher.
  • Each case must be chosen carefully and specifically
  • The cases should have similar results (a literal replication) or contrary results (a theoretical replication) predicted explicitly at the outset of the investigation.
multiple case design1
Multiple Case Design
  • It is important in a replication process to develop a rich, theoretical framework.
  • The framework needs to state the conditions under which a particular phenomenon is likely to be found (literal replication) and the conditions under when it is not likely to be found (theoretical replication).
  • The individual cases within a multiple-case study design may be either holistic or embedded.
  • When an embedded design is used each individual case study may in fact include the collection and analysis of highly quantitative data, e.g. surveys.
conducting case studies 1
Conducting Case Studies 1
  • Preparation for Data Collection
  • The researcher should
    • be able to ask good questions
    • be a good listener
    • be adaptive and flexible
    • have a firm grasp of the issues being studied
    • be unbiased by preconceived notions
  • For the specific context of the case study and organisation
conducting case studies 2
Conducting Case Studies 2
  • The researcher must be able to make intelligent decisions about the data being collected.
  • This will require knowledge about
    • why the study is being done;
    • what evidence is being sought;
    • what variations can be anticipated
    • what would constitute supportive or contrary evidence for any given proposition
  • Survey or interview designers also need to know the purpose of the survey and the nature of the analysis that will follow
case study protocol
Case Study Protocol
  • The protocol should include
    • An overview of the case study project (project, substantive issues, relevant reading)
    • Field procedures (how to gain access to interviewees, planning for sufficient resources, providing for unanticipated events etc)
    • Case study questions (about individuals, multiple cases, entire study, normative questions about policy recommendations and conclusions
pilot case study
Pilot Case Study
  • It may be sensible to conduct a small-scale pilot case study first so as to test procedures and protocols
    • The pilot can be more convenient so as to train research team members and even act as a "laboratory"
    • The research questions can be broader and less focused than the ultimate data collection plan.
    • The pilot reports can provide lessons for both research design and field procedures
sources of evidence
Sources of Evidence
  • There are six forms of evidence
    • Documentation
    • Archival records
    • Interviews
    • Direct observations
    • Participant observations
    • Physical Artifacts
documents archives artifacts
Documents, Archives & Artifacts
  • Current organisational documents
    • Policies, practices, templates
  • Historical archive records
    • Past practices, reports on past projects
  • These two forms of data are useful for corroborating evidence from other sources
  • Artifacts include physical objects like certificates, awards, etc.
  • Case study interviews are usually open-ended
  • Focused interviews can still be open-ended but involve following specific questions derived from the case study protocol
  • More structured questions, along the lines of a formal survey.
  • A structured interview would involve the sampling procedures and the instruments used in regular surveys, and it would subsequently be analyzed in a similar manner.
direct observations
Direct Observations
  • By making a field visit to the case study "site", the investigator is creating the opportunity for direct observations.
  • To increase the reliability of observational evidence, a common procedure is to have more than one observer making an observation, whether formally or casually.
participant observations
Participant Observations
  • The research may play a variety of roles within a case situation and may actually participate in the events being studied.
  • The researcher (e.g. if an insider) may be able to gain access to events or groups that are otherwise inaccessible to scientific investigation.
  • Researchers have to be aware of potential bias. If they work as an insider, they cannot maintain outside independence.
  • They could become a supporter or defender.
principles of data collection 1
Principles of Data Collection 1
  • Using multiple sources of evidence
    • The opportunity to use multiple sources of evidence in case studies far exceeds that in other research methods such as experiments or surveys.
    • The use of multiple sources of evidence in case studies allows an investigator to address a broader range of historical and observational issues.
    • It also enables better triangulation of findings
    • It contributes to a holistic understanding of a case and indeed contributes to theorisation.
principles of data collection 2
Principles of Data Collection 2
  • Creating a case study database
    • The lack of a formal database for most case study efforts is a major shortcoming of case study research.
    • Four components should be contained in a database created for case study research
      • Notes (including interview data)
      • Documents
      • Tabular materials (e.g. from surveys; structured interviews)
      • Narrative (stories; diaries).
principles of data collection 3
Principles of Data Collection 3
  • Maintaining a chain of evidence
    • This is to allow an external observer - the reader of the case study for example - to follow the derivation of any evidence from initial research questions to ultimate case study conclusions.
    • The three principles are intended to make the data collection process as explicit as possible
    • Then the final results can adequately reflect construct validity and reliability, thereby becoming worthy of further analysis.
analyzing case study evidence
Analyzing Case Study Evidence
  • Relying on theoretical propositions
    • The proposition helps
      • to focus attention on some data and to ignore others
      • to organize the entire case study and to define alternative explanations to be examined
  • Developing a case description
    • Develop a descriptive framework to organise the case study and identify
      • types of event or process or interaction
      • an overall ‘pattern’ of complexity that could be used to explain why an implementation failed.
modes of analysis
Modes of Analysis
  • Pattern matching
    • Comparing an empirically based pattern with a predicted one. If the patterns coincide, the results can help to strengthen a case study’s internal validity.
  • Explanation building
    • Analyze the data by building case explanations.
  • Time series analysis
    • Match data over time with:
      • A theoretically significant trend specified in advance
      • A rival trend, also specified in advance
case study report writing
Case Study Report Writing
  • It is important to know the audience
  • Different audiences have different expectations
  • Thus, a primarily academic audience (MISQ) is not the same as one that includes managers and executives (HBR, SMR, CMR)
case study report styles
Case Study Report Styles
  • Linear-analytic
    • Problem, methods, findings of data collection and analysis, conclusion.
  • Comparative
    • The same kind of case is repeated two or three times
    • Alternative descriptions or explanations can be compared.
  • Theory-building
    • Where case evidence is used to construct/ground a new theory
  • Suspense
    • Like a detective story, a murder mystery
standards of excellence
Standards of Excellence
  • Significance
  • Completeness
  • Alternative perspectives considered
  • Sufficient evidence displayed
  • An engaging, attractive and readable style
  • Failure cases can be as instructive as successful cases, if the explanations are persuasive
  • Benbasat, I., Goldstein, D.K. and Mead, M. (1987) The Case Research Strategy in Studies of Information Systems, MISQ, 11, 3, 369-386.
  • Eisenhardt, K.M. (1989) Building Theories from Case Study Research, AMR, 14, 4, 532-550.
  • Lee, A.S. (1989) A Scientific Methodology for MIS Case Studies, MISQ, 13, 1, 33-50.
  • Myers, M.D. (1994) Quality in Qualitative Research in Information Systems, 5th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, 763-766.
  • Walsham, G. (1993) Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations, Wiley, Chichester.
  • Yin, R.K. (1991, 1998, 2003) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage.
  • Yin, R.K. (1993, 2003) Applications of Case Study Research, Sage.