Case Study – Research Method

9 September 2016

Case studies are an important research method in areas where innovations are studied. They enable us to study contemporary and complex social phenomena in their natural context. Over the years researchers working from both epistemological perspectives have addressed important methodological issues. A case study is expected to capture the complexity of a single case, and the methodology which enables this has developed not only in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics, but also in practice-oriented fields such as environmental studies, business studies, social work and Counselling.

Explains that there are four questions which are basic elements of any research process. What methods do we propose to use? What methodology governs our choice and use of methods? What theoretical perspective lies behind the methodology in question? What epistemology informs this theoretical perspective? This paper is written to present the case study as a research approach, showing that its characterization is not an easy task, due mainly to its many different approaches and applications.

Case Study – Research Method Essay Example

In order to demonstrate its application, I have indicated its most common advantages and disadvantages, stressing the important role played by the researcher, who must be careful about generalizations. Soy (1997) The case study approach refers to a group of methods which emphasize qualitative analysis Yin, (1984, p. 23) simplifies it as, data collected from a small number of associations through methods such as participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and longitudinal studies. The essence of case study methodology is triangulation, the combination on different levels of techniques, methods, strategies, or theories.

Crotty (1998, p. 5) explains that research conducted using the data collection method of participant observation, is one of many theoretical perspectives which exemplify a constructionist epistemology. Yin (1984, p. 23) clarifies that case studies are conducted from the positivist as well as from the interpretist epistemological perspective. What is a Case Study? A case study is a research methodology common in social science. Stake (1998, p. 7) points out that “As a form of research, case study is defined by interest in individual cases, not by the methods of inquiry used”.

He goes on to explain that the methods of investigation are not what’s crucial to case study research, but that the object of study is a ‘case’. Skate (1978, p. 5) states that “case studies will often be the preferred method of research because they may be epistemologically in harmony with the readers experience and thus to that person a natural basis for generalization” The term CASE STUDY is used in a variety of ways: 1. As an alternative to experimental (scientific) and quantitative (positivist) methods. 2. As an intensive investigation of single situations which serve to identify and describe basic phenomena. 3.

Focusing on individuals’ perceptions of given educational phenomena, carried out largely by means of interviews. 4. As a study which is almost entirely qualitative in methodology and presentation. 5. As a type of ethnographic research, incorporating participant observation, qualitative observation and field study. (Ethnographic studies are those that take place within a definable cultural setting). Yin (2003) in Hayes (2006) The Wikipedia gives Thomas’s (2011) definition as: Case studies are analyses of persons, events, decisions, periods, projects, policies, institutions, or other systems that are studied holistically by one or more methods.

The case that is the subject of the inquiry will be an instance of a class of phenomena that provides an analytical frame – an object – within which the study is conducted and which the case illuminates and explicates. Thomas’s (2011) . Yin (1984, p. 23) defines the case study research method as an “empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used”.

He explains that case studies are conducted from the positivist as well as from the interpretist epistemological perspective, and places more emphasis on the ‘method’ and the ‘techniques’ that constitute a case study. The case study approach seeks to understand the problem being investigated. “It provides the opportunity to ask penetrating questions and to capture the richness of organizational behaviour, but the conclusions drawn may be specific to the particular organizations studied and may not be generalizable” Yin (1984, p. 23)

Case studies are characterised by the following… a. Data are usually qualitative rather than quantitative. It’s not that the numbers are unimportant but that they are relatively insignificant to the outcome. b. Data are not manipulated (the truth is told plainly). The issue of what ‘truth’ means is then raised. c. Studies mainly focus on single cases (but can include multiple ones). d. Ambiguity in observation and report is tolerated (rather than absolute outcomes). This means that there may not be clinical, clearly defined solutions. e.

Multiple perspectives are sought. This means that the opinions and perceptions of many people may be requested. f. Holism (the sum of the parts is greater than the whole) is advocated. This means that the greater the range of data, the better. g. A search for understanding (for example, by reference to context or history) rather than mere explanation. Kenny & Groteleuschen (1984) Yin (1993) has identified some specific types of case studies: Exploratory, Explanatory, and Descriptive. Stake (1998) included three others: intrinsic, instrumental and collective.

An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. History of the Case study It is generally believed that the case-study method was first introduced into social science by Frederic Le Play in 1829 as a handmaiden to statistics in his studies of family budgets. Les Ouvriers Europeens (1879) in .

The use of case studies for the creation of new theory in social sciences has been further developed by the sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss who presented their research method, Grounded theory, in 1967. The popularity of case studies in testing hypotheses has developed only in recent decades. Case studies have also been used as a teaching method and as part of professional development, especially in business and legal education. The problem-based learning (PBL) movement is such an example. When used in (non-business) education and professional development and are often referred to as critical incidents.

Advantages of a Case Study •Case studies allow a lot of detail to be collected. Normally this would not be easily obtained by other research designs. The collected data is normally of a greater depth and a lot richer than can be found through other experimental designs. •Case studies tend to be conducted on rare cases where large samples of similar participants are not available. As an example, to be able to gain knowledge of brain functions, this can only generally be done through case studies. •Within the case study, scientific experiments can be conducted.

Case studies can help experimenters adapt ideas and produce novel hypotheses which can be used for later testing. •Knowledge! A lot of the research obtained through case studies is invaluable. Disadvantages of a Case Study •One of the main criticisms is that the data collected cannot necessarily be generalised to the wider population. This means that a lot of the data being collected is not always relevant or particularly useful. •Some case studies are not scientific. There have been quite a few case studies that are not scientific nor are they able to be generalised.

Some of the case studies that Freud used for many of his theories or studies were not scientific. •Case studies are generally on one person, but there also tends to only be one experimenter collecting the data. Results can sometimes be influenced by the bias of the data collector, which is more applicable to case studies, than in different designs. •It is also very difficult to draw a definite cause/effect from case studies. Case studies also tend to collect mainly qualitative data. This has been put as neither an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the individual’s stance on qualitative data.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study Research (2013) Many well-known case study researchers such as Robert E. Stake, Robert K. Yin and Gary Thomas, have written about case study research and recommended techniques for organizing and conducting the research successfully. They suggest the six steps that should be used are: •Determine and define the research questions •Select the cases and determine data gathering and analysis techniques •Prepare to collect the data •Collect data in the field •Evaluate and analyse the data •Prepare the report Conclusion A case study can accomplish many of the same goals as other methods.

For example, the case study can be exploratory (create new knowledge), constructive (solve some problem), or confirmatory (test a hypothesis with empirical evidence). The case study can also use either a primary (the researcher collects the data) or secondary (the researcher uses someone else’s data) approach. Case study research can be based on any mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches. An important strength of case studies is the ability to undertake an investigation into a phenomenon in its context. It is important not to confuse case studies with ethnographic and other strictly qualitative research paradigms.

Typically, it uses multiple data sources including direct detailed observations, interviews, and documents. Stake (1998, p. 7) states “Case studies are likely to continue to be popular because of their style and to be useful for exploration for those who search for explanatory laws. And, moreover, because of the universality and importance of experiential understanding, and because of their compatibility with such understanding, case studies can be expected to continue to have an epistemological advantage over other inquiry methods as a basis for naturalistic generalization”.

Case studies are a valuable way of looking at the world around us. References The Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study Research www. ukessays. com/essays/psychology/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-case-study-research-psychology-essay. php#ixzz2RC7oeWP6 accessed 9 May 2013 Crotty, M. (1998) The foundations of social science research:meaning and perspective in the research process,New SouthWales, Allen and Uwi Gorard, G. (2004). Combining methods in educational and social research. Berkshire: Open University Press Hayes,D. (2006) Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth,

History of a case study . Accessed 8th May 2013 Kenny R. W. & Groteleuschen A. D. (1984). ‘Making the Case for Case Study’ Journal of Curriculum studies, 16, pp. 37-31 Mertens, D. M. (2005). Research methods in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative and qualitative approaches. (2nd ed. ) Thousand Oaks: Sage. Soy, S K. (1997). The case study as a research method. Unpublished paper, University of Texas at Austin. Stake, R. E. (1978). “The case study method in social inquiry. ” Educational Researcher 7: 5-8 Stake, Robert. (1995).

The Art of case study Research. Thousand Oaks, London, Sage. Stake, Robert. (1998). “Case Studies” in: Norman Denzin & Yvonna Lincoln. (eds. ): Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage. Thomas, G (2011) A typology for the case study in social science following a review of definition, discourse and structure. Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 6, 511-521 . Yin, R. (1984,1989, 1994,2009). Case study research: Design and methods (1st ed. ). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishing. Yin, R. (199). Applications of case study research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage

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