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The Case of Case Studies

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Darla Taylor

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of The Case of Case Studies

The Case of Case Studies
What is a Case Study?
Not a research method
A decision about what is to be studied; NOT a methodological decision, although it guides how inquiry proceeds.
Employed across the disciplines, most commonly in education, health care, management studies, organizational studies, public relations social work, and sociology.
(Hesse-Biber; Leavy; p. 255)
Case Studies are:
an approach that provides holistic understanding to a problem, issue, or phenomenon within its social context.
can be individuals, events, programs, institutions, or a society
relies on one or few cases to investigate
can be multidimensional data collected and analyzed
Holistic Understanding
performed with social justice in mind
investigated from many angles
pays attention to many different dimensions of the issue
typically able to avoid the kind of essentialist and context-free analyses historically harmful to disempowered groups
allows for a highly complex and nuanced understanding of the subject
Case Study Aims
build understanding by addressing the research questions
triangulations of "thick descriptions" with interpretations of ongoing repetitive processes
Methods to Collect Extensive Data for Case Studies
Depending on the case and research -
oral history'ethnography
document analysis
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
Data can be original or preexisting
Page 257 - Table 10.1 Types of Case Study Evidence
The term is not used in a consistent way across the literature: no agreed-on definition!
Ashley quotes Robson..."a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence."
Arthur, Waring, Coe, & Hedges, 2012, p. 102
Some argue that case study "is a heuristic device because 'at its most general, [it is] an approach that focuses one's attention during learning, construction, discovery, or problem solving."
Hesse-Biber; Leavy; 2011, p. 255
And another...
Graebner and Eisenhardt (2004) refer to case study as a RESEARCH METHOD
HesseBiber & Leavy uses Stake's definition: They suggest it is not a method or methodology, but an expansive field within the qualitative paradigm. Case study is the way we proceed in research and the result of the research. They also agree with Stake stating it is both a process of inquiry about a case and the product of that inquiry. (p.256)
For the Qualitative
concentrates on experiential knowledge of the case
close attention to the influence of social, political, and other contexts
optimizing understanding of the case requires meticulous attention to its activities
Five Requirements for Gaining Understanding

1.issue choice
2 triangulation
3. experiential knowledge
4. contexts
5. activities
Three Types of General Case Study
1. Intrinsic Case Study - understanding the particular case holistically
2. Instrumental Case Study - generalizing or providing insight into a larger topic
3. Multiple Case Study - Multiple cases studied together investigating a larger phenomenon or population from which cases are drawn.
Case Study Research:
1. Theory based
2. Problems based
3. Descriptive
4. Exploratory
generate theory
identify the sources of problems
solutions to problems
describe something
explore something
Parameters comparison
Hesse-Biber; Leavy, p. 259
Always relate to:
research purpose
research questions
the grounding from which the research is conducted
Continuum Of Perspectives
Generalizability Transferability The Particular
1. To what it is
2. To what may be
3. To what could be
Comparative Analysis
(theoretical conclusions)
Lincoln and Guba (2000a) - " The trouble with generalization is that they don't apply to particulars."
Working hypothesis -
used to understand other cases
"Thick descriptions -> "fittingness"
Holographic Generalization -

Produce a whole picture using highly detailed descriptions of cases.

Lincoln and Guba (2000a)
Hesse-Biber; Leavy, (2012) p.262
Bounded System - independent of the research with features, patterns, and boundaries
Naturalistic generalization - extensive data collection and a deep understanding-natural process where readers can see themselves and/or their experiences in the case study.
"The physical situation should be well described...there should be some balance between the uniqueness and the ordinariness of the place. The physical space is fundamental to meanings for most researchers and most readers." (p.263)
The Why, What, and
How Come

Research Purpose
Do I aim to test, illustrate, or generate theory?
Do I aim to identify the sources of problems or solutions to the problems?
What dimensions of my topic must be described and understood to meet my goals?
Am I exploring a new or underresearched topic?
What am I seeking?
What type of case study will be most beneficial to my research?

Arthur, J., Waring, M., Coe, R., & Hedges, L. (2012). Research Methods & Methodologies in Education. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Hesse-Biber, S., & Leavy, P. (2011). The Practice of Qualitative Research . Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publication.
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