RES701, Week 4, Case Study Research Method

Research Methodology

Research methodology can be defined as a practice of collecting information and data in order to make certain business decisions. It may include research publications, interviews, surveys and other research techniques. This information may consist of both present and past information which are relevant to make decisions.

Case study Research Methodology

According to Wikipedia ‘A case study is a research method involving an up-close, in-depth and detailed examination of a subject of study (the case), as well as its relate contextual conditions.’ Simple a Case study is a qualitative research methodology which help us to acquire in-depth knowledge upon trying to study a topic or trying to find one conclusion. Case studies can be done by an individual or a group of individuals to explore the causes of underlying principles. It is commonly used to answer questions such as how or why?, since researchers have little or no control over the events.

Case study

How it works?

Case studies involves detailed information which can be acquired from various data sources, which includes interviews, first-hand observation, surveys and document reviews. Following are the most commonly used elements in a case study:

  • Circumstances – Explains the background
  • Details regarding the situation before the case began.
  • Activities – What was done?
  • Results – Information on achievement or progress.
  • Complications – Stuff that limited and challenged.
  • Analysis – Interpretation and explanation
  • View of people.
  • Lessons – Summarizing what was learnt.

In 1995 Stake has proposed a series of necessary steps for case method where more emphasis on a naturalistic approach, importance of the philosophical underpinnings and contexts. Developing a protocol will act as a frame of operation and following list illustrates a common case study protocol that guides the researcher’s methodology.

Case Study protocol

Basically, there exist two kinds of case studies

  1. Problem Solving Case Study
  2. Descriptive Case study

Advantages/Strengths of Case study

  1. Intensive study 
  2. Provide a way to produce rich, in-depth data 
  3. They can bring work to life by providing real-world stories and examples
  4. Reasons given for progress and change come from a range of different sources 
  5. Developing new research to test conditions 
  6. Contradicting established ideas or theories 
  7. Giving new Insight 

Weakness/Limitations of Case study

  1. Inability to replicate 
  2. Researcher bias – Cannot necessarily be generalized 
  3. Usually, require significant input from a range of sources and groups that may or may not be easily accessed and willing to participate
  4. Depending on data sources, it can be difficult to draw a definite cause/effect from case studies
  5. No Classification 
  6. Time intensive 
  7. Possibility of errors 
  8. Ethical Issues 
History of Case study methodology

Philosophical Orientation

Each of the existing methodologies is aligned with specific philosophical positions which help the researchers to guide the research. In the case of Case Study, it has a practical versatility in its approach. According to Rosenberg and Yates, ‘it is not assigned to a fixed ontological, epistemological or methodological position’ (Rosenberg & Yates, 2007). According to the researcher, there is one single reality which is independent to the individual and thus case study can be oriented from a realist or positivist perspective. This single reality can be apprehended, studied and measured through a relativist or interpretative perspective. The perspective of a relativist or interpretive depends on the premises which have multiple realities and meanings. This philosophical versatility helps the researcher to decide the methodological orientation that can be used in the conduct of the case study.

Denzin and Lincoln summarize the characteristics of qualitative research into the following 5 key attributes:

  1. Reducing the use of positivist or post-positivist perspectives
  2. Accepting the postmodern sensibilities
  3. Capturing the individual’s point of view
  4. Examining the constraints of everyday life
  5. Securing rich descriptions

What kinds of questions/problems might be useful for a case study?

The basic thing the researcher needs to take care of is to understand the case thoroughly so that the researcher will have a correct idea on what it is and how to analyze it? The researcher needs to analyze the case so that he will be able to pinpoint at-least 5 key problems which need to be research on it.
The key problems should have a logical base and need to research on it deeply. For most instance, each key problem will have multiple solutions which again needs to analyze to find the best possible solution. Finding this best possible solution will have our own experiences, discussions and research which need to be done with various outsiders which we think they can help. These outsource can be humans or trusted sources where the data we get is legible and trustworthy.

There exists 4 possible case study questions

  1. Estimation questions
  2. Actual or Theoretical Client questions
  3. Brain Teaser questions
  4. Graphics Interpretation questions

Case Study in Information Technology

There exist various phases that could be followed for a case study approach in Information Technology which explains different research options and data. We can use case study as a key purpose to analyze the impact of certain IT products on customers. One of the most commonly applied case is like when we want to know the marketing strategies and digital marketing options for IT products. Following steps can be used while doing case studies for IT.

  1. Focus on key concepts
  2. Case study as Research Strategy
  3. Collecting relevant data
  4. Analyzing possible solutions
  5. Finalizing the solutions
Uber case study

References:

  1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/2655/4079
  2. http://whatworks.org.nz/methods-tools-and-techniques/case-studies/
  3. https://coschedule.com/blog/how-to-write-a-case-study-examples-templates/
  4. https://www.wikijob.co.uk/content/interview-advice/interview-questions/brain-teaser-questions
  5. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.135.1100&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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