The Case Study as Research Method
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Presses de l'UniversitÃ© du QuÃ©bec
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Table of Contents
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I have been using the case study for almost twenty years as the main research method for all my funded projects, for the case method can provide a sound basis for research. Case studies used as a research tool should be distinguished from another type of case study that is common in teaching, ...
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Human and social systems are complex. Understanding phenomena related to such systems demands a holistic approach, which can produce not only detailed descriptions of situations and events but also an in-depth understanding of the actors involved, their feelings and the interactions among them. ...
Stage 1 : Assessing Appropriateness and Usefulness
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The purpose of the first stage in conducting a case study is to determine whether the case method is appropriate to the subject at hand. To do so, the researcher should begin by considering his underlying approach, which is to say his intellectual framework, way of thinking and philosophical underpinnings (Aktouf 1987). ...
Stage 2 : Ensuring Accuracy of Results
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The accuracy of the results must be a paramount concern for the researcher from the beginning to the end of the study. Therefore, the steps that will be taken in the course of the project to ensure accuracy should be considered at the very outset, as soon as the appropriateness of the case method has been established. ...
Stage 3 : Preparation
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As in most studies, the first thing to do when preparing a case study is to frame a research question, even when working inductively (Bullock 1986; De Weerd-Nederhof 2001; Eisenhardt 1989; Miles and Huberman 1994). The question should be clear and reflect the researcher’s starting point (Lucas 1974), based on a thorough review of the literature ...
Stage 4 : Selecting Cases
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The researcher must devote considerable effort to finding cases that fully meet the criteria that have been established for forming the theoretical sample. And then the selected subjects must be persuaded to participate in the study, which may require some skill. As we have noted, participation in a case study is no trivial matter; ...
Stage 5 : Collecting Data
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To assemble rich and credible data in the course of a case study, an investigator must not only be a good observer but also have strong interpersonal skills. Since a case study almost always collects qualitative data, the providers of the data, the informants, are crucially important and the researcher’s relationship with them is key. ...
Stage 6 : Analyzing Data
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I should point out to begin with that although I am describing this stage after the data collection stage, it is always preferable to carry out the two iteratively. It can be a serious mistake to devote oneself exclusively to data collection for a time and then go home and start analyzing the data, ...
Stage 7 : Interpreting Data
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In the data interpretation stage, the investigator’s creativity and imagination come into play. Researchers must harness their intuitive understanding to explain the phenomenon of interest. To do so, they should review the evidence at a higher level of abstraction and interpret it to extract the meanings they have deduced ...
Stage 8 : Reporting Results
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Dissemination of the results is the ultimate goal of any study. Unless the researcher is narcissistic in the extreme, it makes little sense to devote months and in many cases years to a study if the results will never be published. And it is just as disappointing to publish findings that no one reads or cares about, ...
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By way of conclusion, I hope I can say, “mission accomplished.” My objective in writing this handbook was two-pronged: to equip researchers to make an informed decision on whether the case method is appropriate to their research, and if so, to provide them with a step-by-step guide to conducting a case study with scientific rigour. ...
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Page Count: 132
Publication Year: 2009