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CASE STUDY

RESEARCH METHOD
METHODOLOGY COURSE, BM07

Vladimir Ryabov, PhD, Principal Lecturer

LOGIC OF CASE STUDY

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DESIGN

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Based on R.Yin, 2009, Case Study Research, 4th Ed., SAGE.

ANALYZE

WHEN TO USE?
How and Why research questions
Researcher has little control over events
Focus is on contemporary phenomenon within
real-life context

GOALS OF CASE STUDY


Exploratory
Descriptive
Explanatory

CRITICISM
Rigor of case study research
Little basis for scientific generalization
Too long, result in massive, unreadable
documents
Cant directly address causal relationships

DEFINITION
(R.YIN, 2009, Case Study Research, 4th Ed., SAGE. p.18)

1. A case study is an empirical enquiry that


investigates a contemporary phenomenon in depth and
within its real-life context, especially when
the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not
clearly evident.

2. The case study inquiry


copes with the technically distinctive situation in which
there will be many more variables of interest than data
points, and as one result
relies on multiple sources of evidence, with data needing
to converge in a triangulating fashion, and as another
result
benefits from the prior development of theoretical
propositions to guide data collection and analysis.

NUMBER OF CASES
Single vs. Multiple
Comparative case method (distinctive form of
multiple case study)

DESIGN

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RESEARCH DESIGN OF CASE STUDY


Research design logic linking data to be
collected to the initial questions of study
Logical connection between questions and
findings
Example: inter-organizational study

COMPONENTS OF RESEARCH DESIGN


Questions of a study
Propositions
Unit(s) of analysis
Logic linking the data to the propositions
Criteria for interpreting the findings

ROLE OF THEORY IN DESIGN


Theoretical framework for a study
E.g., organizational theories (theories of
bureaucracy, organizational structure and
functions; excellence in organizational
performance, and inter-organizational
partnerships)
Generalizations: statistical and analytic

CRITERIA FOR JUDGING THE


QUALITY OF RESEARCH DESIGN
Construct validity: identifying correct operational measures
for the concepts being studied
Internal validity: seeking to establish a causal relationship,
whereby certain conditions are believed to lead to other
conditions
External validity: defining the domain to which a studys
findings can be generalized
Reliability: demonstrating that the operations of a study
such as the data collection procedures can be repeated, the
same results

CONSTRUCT VALIDITY
Problem:
Operational set of measures: objectivity vs. subjectivity

Tactics:
Use multiple sources of evidence
Establish chain of evidence
Have key informants review draft case study report

INTERNAL VALIDITY
Problem:
Mainly a concern for explanatory case studies
Making inferences in a case study

Tactics:
Do pattern matching
Do explanation building
Address rival explanation
Use logic model

EXTERNAL VALIDITY
Problem:
Is this study generalizable? This is a major concern in
case studies!

Tactics:
Use theory in single-case studies
Use replication logic in multiple-case studies

RELIABILITY
Problem:
To minimize errors and biases in a study

Tactics:
Use case study protocol
Develop case study database

PREPARING FOR DATA COLLECTION

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DESIRED SKILLS
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

PROTOCOL OF INVESTIGATION
Major way to increase the reliability of case study
Guides the investigator in the data collection
General content of a case study protocol:
an overview of the project
field procedures
case study questions
a guide for case study report

COLLECTING CASE STUDY EVIDENCE

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SOURCES OF EVIDENCE
Documentation
Archival records
Interviews
Direct observation
Participant observation
Physical artefacts

DOCUMENTATION
Strengths:
Stable, unobtrusive, exact, broad coverage

Weaknesses:
Retrievability, biased selectivity, reporting bias, and
access

Use of documents: to corroborate and augment


evidence from other sources
An Internet search prior to field visit

ARCHIVAL RECORDS
Strengths:
Same as for documents
Precise and usually quantitative
Weaknesses:
Same as for documents
Accessibility due to privacy reasons
Often take a form of computer files and records
E.g., organizational records (budget or personnel records)
Usefulness of archival records vary: from essential to passive
relevance

INTERVIEWS
Strengths:
Targeted, insightful

Weaknesses:
Bias due to poorly articulated questions
Response bias
Inaccuracies due to poor recall
Reflexivity

DIRECT OBSERVATIONS
Strengths:
Reality, contextual

Weaknesses:
Time-consuming, selectivity, reflexivity, and cost

Observations of meetings, factory work,


classrooms, etc.

PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION
Strengths:
Same as for direct observation
Insightful into interpersonal behavior and motives

Weaknesses:
Same as for direct observation
Bias due to participant-observers manipulation of events

PHYSICAL ARTEFACTS
Strengths:
Insightful into cultural features and technical operations

Weaknesses:
Selectivity and availability

E.g., technological device, tool or instrument, a


work of art

PRINCIPLE 1: USE MULTIPLE


SOURCES OF EVIDENCE
Use of multiple sources is a strength of a case
study
Triangulation -> findings are more convincing and
accurate
Convergence and nonconvergence of sources
Prerequisites for using multiple sources: costs,
knowledge in different data collection methods

PRINCIPLE 2: CREATE A CASE


STUDY DATABASE
Way of organizing and documenting the data collected
Increases reliability of research
Database includes:
case study notes (e.g., results of interviews, observations)
case study documents
tabular materials (e.g., survey and other quantitative data)
narratives (open-ended answers to the questions)

PRINCIPLE 3: MAINTAIN A CHAIN


OF EVIDENCE
To allow an external observer to follow the
derivation of any evidence from initial research
questions to ultimate conclusions
Not only the actual evidence but the
circumstances of its collection

ANALYSIS

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GENERAL STRATEGIES
Relying on theoretical propositions
Developing a case description
Using both qualitative and quantitative data
Examining rival explanations

1. PATTERN MATCHING
Compare an empirically based pattern with a
predicted one
Can help to strengthen the internal validity
A pattern might be related to the variables of the
study
Example of pattern analysis

2. EXPLANATION BUILDING
Analysis of a case study by building an
explanation about the case
Mainly relevant to explanatory case studies
Explanation building occurs most often in a
narrative form
Reflect theoretically significant propositions
Iterative nature of explanation building
Potential problems with explanation building

3. TIME-SERIES ANALYSIS
The ability to trace changes over time is a
strength of case studies
Single dependent or independent variable
Statistical tests are used
Complex time series analysis
Chronologies

4. LOGIC MODELS
The model stipulates a complex chain of events
over an extended period of time
Repeated cause-effect-cause-effect patterns
Can be considered as a form of pattern matching
Matching empirically observed events to
theoretically predicted events

5. CROSS CASE SYNTHESIS


Applied specifically to the analysis of multiple
cases
Cases for synthesis might come from different
studies

REPORTING CASE STUDY

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ISSUES IN REPORTING
There is no any stereotypic form
Targeting case study reports
Structures for case study reports:

Linear-analytic (for all types)


Comparative (for all types)
Chronological (for all types)
Theory-building (for explanatory and exploratory)
Suspense (only for explanatory)
Unsequenced (only for descriptive)

REFERENCES
R. Yin, 2009, Case Study Research: design and
methods, 4th Ed., SAGE.