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C O N C L U S I O N 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 stepby -step guide to conducting a case study with scientific rigour. The first chapter, which discusses how to determine the appropriateness of the case method, is intended to address the first part of this objective . The following chapters, which describe in detail the stages and steps that should be carried out to ensure accurate results (preparation , case selection, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and 104 The Case Study as Research Method finally reporting the findings) are intended to address the second part. It is my hope that they will serve researchers as a comprehensive practical guide to conducting a case study. Reading or, better yet, using this guide should demonstrate that the case study is indeed a scientific research method. The orderly sequence of stages illustrates the logical, scientific procedure the case researcher must follow. The steps in this handbook describe the specific activities that should be carried out in order to produce evidence and theory that are clear, logical and irrefutable, in keeping with the scientific method. In particular, the emphasis placed on principles of data collection, analysis and, above all, interpretation, and the description of the many steps designed to ensure accurate results, should serve to support a scientifically rigorous approach. The case method is fruitful in that it makes it possible to study a phenomenon not only in itself but also in its natural setting, whether it be to build or to test a theory. The case study permits systematic investigation of the phenomenon by examining the dynamic interrelationships among managerial/regulatory processes, social interactions and collective outputs related to the phenomenon of interest . It is then possible to develop an analogical, non-linear narrative that embraces the causal relationships in the systems under study (Beaucourt and Louart 2002; Bergadaa 2002). However, conducting a case study for research purposes is both demanding and complex, as this handbook shows, even as it demonstrates the usefulness and – dare I say it? – necessity of the case method. It provides a step-by-step guide to a process that is both delicate and complicated, one that involves a multitude of details, none of which can be neglected. As Eisenhardt (1989) stresses, the quality of a case study largely depends on the rigour with which the researcher approaches each stage of the research process. And what is still more, the stages and steps must be conducted iteratively, not sequentially. More generally, using the case method for research purposes poses three main challenges, which this handbook describes and attempts to equip researchers to address. The first is the challenge of field management: the investigator must use interpersonal skills to win acceptance, obtain the required information, control for the effects of his or her presence, and share his or her analyses with the informants . There is also an ethical dimension here, since the researcher is intervening directly in a human setting when collecting confidential information from numerous informants. Standard ethical rules must Conclusion 105 be scrupulously observed. Moreover, the investigator must behave in such a way that the subjects will have no qualms about taking part in another study and indeed will be happy to do it, in light of their experience. It is also important to treat confidential information as such at all times and to protect the anonymity of the sources, unless the informants have specifically agreed to be identified. The second challenge, tool management, is of a more technical nature: the researcher must make the right decisions in formalizing the research framework and choosing and/or developing data collection, analysis and interpretation instruments. The third and last challenge, data management, is both strategic and scientific. It involves producing results that are accurate and useful. The researcher can meet this challenge by taking measures to ensure the reliability and validity of the collected evidence (Hlady Rispal 2002). To conclude, I can only repeat my hope this handbook has shown the usefulness of the case method as one tool in the researcher’s methodological arsenal and that it will serve the reader in good stead. ...


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