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Workshop on Latest Trends in Case Research and How to Keep Up

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Workshop on Latest Trends in Case Research and How to Keep Up with Them
The Special Interests Groups of BAM in International Business and International Management and in
Research Methodology, with the support of AIB UKI Chapter, organized on the 19 June 2014 at the
University of Leeds a workshop led by Dr Catherine Welch of the University of Sydney.
The starting point of the workshop was to focus on the work of Eisenhardt (1989) and Yin (2014) in
popularising and legitimising the case study in management research. The template for doing case
studies that resulted from the approaches of Eisenhardt and Yin is however potentially limiting. This
�modernist’ template relegates qualitative research to the subordinate roles of discovery,
exploration, theory-building and induction, in contrast to the scientific rigour of quantitative theory testing and verification (Welch et al., 2013). Much of the innovation in qualitative research that has
taken place in the past two decades or more (such as discourse analysis, narrative inquiry and
constructionist grounded theory) has happened outside the case study tradition. The workshop
explored the origins and effects of these modernist assumptions on how we typically conduct case
studies and moved on to explore the growing debate about how case studies can be done
differently. This covered emerging approaches to doing case studies that challenge modernist
precepts, focusing on how case researchers analyse their data and build explanations.
The slides used in the workshop are attached.
Latest Trends in Case
Research & How to Keep Up
with Them
BAM Special Interest Groups Event,
University of Leeds, 19 June 2014
Catherine Welch, University of Sydney
Copyright by Catherine Welch
Our agenda today
Changing views of the case study over time – and where
we’re at now
The �modernist’ case study and its limitations
Alternative philosophical approaches to the case study
Recent developments in case study methodology with
regards to:
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�criteriology’ (what is a good case study?)
case selection
data analysis and interpretation
theorising from case studies
Copyright by Catherine Welch
What is a case study?
When you hear ʻcase study’, what are the
words/descriptors you associate with it?
What for you are the key features of a case
study?
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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�Modernist’ qualitative research
Denzin and Lincoln (1994): high water mark of modernism in the
1950s and 1960s
but remains influential today (especially in business schools and
management journals!)
�modernist’ grounded theory: Glaser and Strauss (1967)
�modernist’ case study: Eisenhardt (1989) and Yin (1984, 2014)
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C.Welch, E. Plakoyiannaki, R. Piekkari and E. Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, �Legitimizing
Diverse Uses for Qualitative Research: A Rhetorical Analysis of Two Management
Journals’, International Journal of Management Reviews, 15, 2 (2013), pp. 245-264.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
The modernist case study
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Yin �significantly different’ from the case study practised by
American sociologists in the 1920s, 1930s (Platt 1992, p. 45)
Differences (pp. 45-46):
Not inductive
Not concerned with historical depth, richness of data
Access to personal meanings not a focus
Preference for multiple cases
Case study a logic of design
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Legitimation of the case study, but �at the cost of giving up
some of the traditional claims and strategies’? (Platt 1992, p.
46)
J. Platt (1992),�“Case Study” in American Methodological Thought’, Current
Sociology, 40, 1, pp. 14-48.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Modernist grounded theory
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Discovery of Grounded Theory an attempt �to strengthen
the mandate for generating theory’ (Glaser and Strauss
1967, p. 7)
A product of its time in terms of underlying
assumptions
Develop an inductivist �rhetoric of generation’ that is
intended �to balance out that of verification’ (p. 18)
This rhetoric still in use today
However, constructivist reinterpretation of grounded
theory – Kathy Charmaz
Welch, Plakoyiannaki, Piekkari and Paavilainen-Mantymaki 2013
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Eisenhardt: legitimising the case study
in management research
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Heavily influenced by both Yin and Glaser and Strauss
Defence of the case study (1989) very much directed at a
quantitatively oriented audience, framed in familiar language
(constant references to �traditional hypothesis-testing
research’)
Contrasts theory building approach with other qualitative
research which is �highly descriptive, emphasizes the social
construction of reality, and focuses on revealing how extant
theory operates in particular examples…’ (p. 28)
K.M. Eisenhardt (1989), �Building Theories from Case Study
Research’, Academy of Management Review, 14, 4, pp. 532-550.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Philosophical underpinnings
�the process described here adopts a positivist view of
research.That is, the process is directed toward the
development of testable hypotheses and theory which are
generalizable across settings.’ (Eisenhardt 1989, p. 546)
�Much of case study research as it is described in this
book appears to be oriented toward a realist perspective,
which assumes the existence of a single reality that is
independent of the observer’ (Yin 2014, p. 17)
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
The �bridging’ role of the case study
The case study is �one of the best (if not the best) of the
bridges from rich qualitative evidence to mainstream
deductive research. Its emphasis on developing constructs,
measures, and testable propositions makes inductive research
consistent with the emphasis on testable theory within
mainstream deductive research. In fact, inductive and
deductive logics are mirrors of one another, with inductive
theory building from cases producing new theory from data
and deductive theory testing completing the cycle by using
data to test theory… ’ Eisenhardt and Graebner (2007, p. 25)
K.M. Eisenhardt, and M.E. Graebner (2007),�Theory Building from Cases:
Opportunities and Challenges’, Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1, pp. 25-32.
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Eisenhardt: Case study as �bridge’
Theory
Case study
Hypothesis testing
Inductive
Theory
Building
Theory
testing
Data
R. Piekkari and C. Welch (eds), (2011) Rethinking the Case Study in International Business and Management
Research, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
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The modernist legacy
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Theme 1:
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Assessing case study quality
Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Modernist quality criteria
1.
Construct validity: identifying correct operational measures for
concepts being studied e.g. multiple sources of evidence,
member validation
2.
Internal validity: establishing a causal relationship e.g. patternmatching (comparing empirically observed patterns with
predicted ones), addressing rival explanations
3.
External validity: establishing the domain to which a study’s
findings can be generalised e.g. replication logic for multiple
case studies*
4.
Reliability: demonstrating that the operations of a study can be
repeated e.g. case study protocol/database, auditing*
Source: Yin (2014, pp. 45-49); see also Yin (2009, pp. 40-45)
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Dominance of positivist criteria
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analysis of case studies published in 10
management journals published 1995-2000
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�we failed to identify in our sample a single case
study that used, and explicitly reported, rigor
criteria other than the [positivist] validity and
reliability notions’ (p. 1473).
Source: M. Gibbert, W. Ruigrok and B. Wicki (2008), �What Passes as
a Rigorous Case Study?’, Strategic Management Journal, 29, 1465-1474.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Alternatives? E.g. Guba and Lincoln’s
naturalistic (neo-empiricist) criteria
1.
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3.
4.
Credibility: achieving fit between the constructed realities of
research participants and researcher’s reconstructions
Transferability: providing sufficient detail about the research
situation so readers can judge to which other contexts the
findings are relevant
Dependability: providing an audit process that tracks and
accounts for changes in the methodological process followed
Confirmability: grounding the conclusions in data by showing
where the data came from (data collection) and how they were
transformed into findings (data analysis)
Symon, G. and C. Cassell (2012), �Assessing Qualitative Research’, in G. Symon
and C. Cassell (eds), Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and
Current Challenges, London: Sage, 204-223.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
�Transparency’ as a criterion
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Transparency concerns �whether the article reported sufficient
information in both data collection and analysis for the study to
be replicated to a reasonable extent’ (p. 1874)
high transparency �helps remove the stigma of qualitative research
as second-class research by allowing the traditionalist reader to
determine the accuracy of the conclusions draw’ (pp. 1880-1881)
high transparency �allows readers to learn not just from the
findings of the research, but also from the methodologies, allowing
comparison of methods across articles towards a standard of the
“best practices” in qualitative research’ (p. 1881)
�our findings do suggest that US journals require greater
transparency than European journals when publishing qualitative
work’ (p. 1881)
Bluhm, D.J., Harman, W., Lee, T.W. and Mitchell, T.R. (2011). Qualitative research
in management: a decade of progress. Journal of Management Studies, 48(8), pp.
1866-1891.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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The modernist legacy
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Theme 2:
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Case selection and research design
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Modernist case study: the �design view’
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Case selection: Preference for multiple case studies
(replication logic)
Linear process, with clearly identifiable phases
Best practice:
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clearly specifying the research purpose;
developing theory prior to data collection;
deciding on the key features of the case design and case
boundaries prior to data collection;
structuring the case report so it is aligned with the research
purpose
R. Piekkari, E. Plakoyiannaki and C.Welch,�“Good” Case Research in Industrial
Marketing: Insights from Research Practice’, Industrial Marketing Management, 39, 1
(2010), pp. 109-117.
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Piekkari et al. 2009
Adhering to the research design:
Yin’s approach
�as the case study proceeds, a different orientation may
emerge, and the evidence begins to address different
research questions.
�Although some people have claimed such flexibility to be
a strength of the case study approach, in fact, the largest
criticism of case studies is based on this type of shift – in
which the implemented research design is no longer
appropriate for the research questions being asked.
�Because of this problem, you need to avoid such
unsuspected slippage; if the relevant research questions
really do change, you should simply start over again, with
a new research design.’ (2009, p. 52)
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Systematic combining: Making the
abductive process of theorising explicit
Systematic combining involves:
abductive logic
non-linear process
matching i.e. going backwards and forwards between
framework, data sources and analysis
direction and redirection: data collection as a discovery
process, leading to new dimensions of the research problem
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Dubois,A. and L.-E. Gadde (2002),�Systematic Combining:An Abductive
Approach to Case Research’, Journal of Business Research, 55, pp. 553-560.
Dubois,A. and L.-E. Gadde (2014),�Systematic Combining:A Decade Later’,
Journal of Business Research, 67, 1277-1284.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
The modernist legacy
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Theme 3:
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Data analysis and presentation
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Coding example: The �Gioia
methodology’ of analysis
Two stages of analysis:
1)
1st order coding: generating multiple (too many!)
categories from the data; here the analysis �tries to
adhere faithfully to informant terms’
2)
2nd order coding: theoretical level of themes which can
then be distilled into �aggregate dimensions’
D.A. Gioia, K.G. Corley and A.L. Hamilton (2013), �Seeking Qualitative Rigor in
Inductive Research: Notes on the Gioia Methodology’, Organizational Research
Methods,16 (1), pp. 15-31.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Source: Corley and Gioia (2004)
Writing up multiple case studies:
Eisenhardt & Graebner 2007
Where’s the rich story??
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�the overarching organizing frame of the paper is the theory,
and each part of the theory is demonstrated by evidence from
at least some of the cases. But since it is generally not realistic
to support every theoretical proposition with every case
within a text itself, the use of extensive tables and other visual
devices that summarize the related case evidence are central
to signaling the depth and detail of empirical grounding... A
separate table that summarizes the evidence for each
theoretical construct is a particularly effective way to present
the case evidence...’ (Eisenhardt and Graebner 2007, p. 29)
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
The coding trap
“The near-universal norms of coding decontextualize
empirical material and attribute to it objectivity, unity, and
homogeneity that it rarely possesses. Coding of interviews
obscures the ambiguity of most human utterances. It also
denies their performative nature. People use language to
accomplish effects… not just to accurately mirror their
thinking or actions. How people tick boses in questionnaires
or how they answer questions in contrived interview
situations may be a long way from expressing some straight
truth about themselves.”
M.Alvesson & Y. Gabriel (2013),�Beyond Formulaic Research: In Praise of Greater
Diversity in Organizational Research and Publications’, Academy of Management
Learning and Education, 12, 2, pp. 249-250
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Beyond stories and idiosyncratic detail
�multiple-case researchers retain only the relationships
that are replicated across most or all of the cases. Since
there are typically fewer of these relationships than there
are details in a richly observed single case, the resulting
theory is often more parsimonious (and also more robust
and generalizable)’.
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Eisenhardt and Graebner 2007, p. 30
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Alternative analytical strategies
Maxwell (2012, pp. 111-118) distinguishes between
1) Categorising strategies (coding): data are labelled and
grouped by category – however, this can lead to
context-stripping
2) Connecting strategies: identifying the key
relationships that tie the data together in a
narrative or sequence (e.g. narrative analysis)
Source: J.A. Maxwell (2012), A Realist Approach for Qualitative
Research, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
The modernist legacy
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Theme 4:
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Theorising: what are the implications?
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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Multiple conjunctural causation
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Focus on combinations of variables not estimating the
effects of individual variables: �it makes virtually no
sense to ask,“What is the effect of cause C?” because C
sometimes has a positive effect and sometimes a negative
effect depending on the other variable values with which
it appears…’ (Mahoney & Goertz 2006, p. 235)
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How does this compare to the modernist case study?
C.Welch, R. Piekkari, E. Plakoyiannaki and E. Paavilainen-Mäntymäki,
�Theorising from Case Studies:Towards a Pluralist Future for International
Business Research’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42, 5 (2011), pp.
740-762.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Beyond gapspotting?
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�Sound empirical research begins with strong grounding in
related literature, identifies a research gap, and proposes
research questions that address the gap.’ (Eisenhardt and
Graebner 2007, p. 26)
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Gapspotting research reinforces the assumptions of existing
theories
Problematisation approach: questioning the assumptions of
existing theories
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Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. 2011. Generating research questions through
problematization. Academy of Management Review, 36(2): 247-271.
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
Abduction leading to novel theorising
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“Abductive analysis emphasizes that rather than setting all
preconceived theoretical ideas aside during the research
project, researchers should enter the field with the
deepest and broadest theoretical base possible and
develop their theoretical repertoires throughout the
research process.Theoretical relevancy is not limited to
analogy but flourishes with theory-close and -far writings
that inspire novel insights. Instead of theories emerging
from data, new concepts are developed to account for
puzzling empirical materials. ” (p. 180)
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S.Timmermans & I.Tavory (2012),�Theory construction in qualitative
research: From grounded theory to abductive analysis’, Sociological Theory,
30, 3, 167-186
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Theory construction requires surprises
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How to notice and capture the surprises?
Revisiting the phenomenon
Defamiliarising – what are we taking for granted?
Looking for anomalous findings
Gathering negative cases
Using contrasting theoretical lenses
Alternative casing: what is this a case of?
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Copyright by Catherine Welch
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