Case Study is one of vital type of research

case1Case study is a form of qualitative and also quantitative research that focuses on providing a detailed account of one or more cases. Eg: how important is sales training in e-commerce: how different e-commerce companies used sales training to the best of their advantage. And, the best part is that the case study is the most flexible of all research designs which allows the researcher to retain the holistic characteristics of real-life events while simultaneously allowing him/her to investigate the empirical events. In general, a case study is an empirical inquiry which investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context. Empirical research is based on observations made by the researcher – his/her actual experience rather than any theory or belief. Many times, the theory and observations can have contrasting facts; this is where case study type of research scores higher rank, it allows making the boundaries between phenomenon and context clearly evident and in it multiple sources of evidence are used.

Case studies are one of many ways of doing social science and humanities research: it can be carried out with experimentation, observation, surveys and archival information. Each form of data collection is suited to a certain type of research problem; degree of experimentation has control over events and historical/contemporary perspective and focus. By design researchers chose case studies usually when their topic is their principal subject and they chose selected examples of a social entity within its normal context. At the simplest level, the case study provides descriptive accounts of one or more cases; it depends on the researcher’s perspective how many cases he should handle in his research. It gives the researcher a chance to experiment intellectually more and more insights of one or more selected social factors within a real-life context.

Before deciding to use case study as your research type these are few things you need to do: first decide whether case studies can be useful for your specific investigation. There are three factors that determine the best research methodology: 1. the types of questions to be answered 2. Decide to what extent you have control over behavioural events of the respondents and your chosen sample 3. Understand the degree of focus on present-day as opposed to historical events. You will have to tackle these issues in framing your research questions which are most significant in determining the appropriate approach. Who, what when and where questions can be examined through documents, archival analysis, surveys and interviews. Therefore, I feel that case studies are one approach that supports deeper and more detailed investigation of the type that is normally necessary to answer how, when and why questions.

Case study research is also good for present-day events when the appropriate behaviour cannot be manipulated. Typically case study research uses a variety of evidence from different sources, such as documents, artefacts, interviews, journals, data banks and observation, and this goes beyond the range of sources of evidence that might be available in historical study. In summary then, case study research is useful when: A how or why question is being asked about a contemporary set of events over which the investigator has little or no control.

In contrast to surveys, typically the numbers of units studied in a case study are lesser in number, but the extent of details available for each case can be greater. As compared with an experiment, the case study researcher has much less control over the variables, than if an experiment were used to investigate a situation. In a survey data may be collected from a number of organisations in order to generalise to all other organisations of the same type. In contrast in a comparative case study across a number of different organisations, the objective is to compare or reproduce the organisations studied with each other in a systematic way, in the investigation.

case2Lesser usage of statistical examination:

While analyzing results for a case study, researcher need not use complex statistical tools because the analysis becomes more opinion based than statistical method based. The usual idea is to try and collate data into a manageable form and construct a narrative around it.

In subjects like social sciences and humanities conservative use of statistics reduces the significance and application of the topic. I have observed that often over usage of statistical tools destroy results which are often reported in an unnecessarily obscure manner. Secondly, in my opinion, the null hypothesis testing concept is extremely flawed. And, thirdly, there are several issues, independent of the particular statistical concepts employed, which limit the value of any statistical approach. For instance, difficulties of generalizing to different situations, and the weakness of some research in terms of the size of the effects found. I have seen how some Universities insist often over usage of statistics which kills the essence and core of a topic.

Therefore, case study as a research plan often emerges as one of the best options for research students and mature researchers who are seeking to undertake a modest scale of research project based on their workplace or the comparison of a limited number of organisations. The most challenging aspect of the application of case study research in this background is to lift the assessment from a descriptive account that can claim to be a worthwhile; it contributes modest addition to the research.

case3Some facts of case study:

  • Case study is an empirical inquiry that Investigates a contemporary phenomena within its real life context.
  • It is helpful when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. This statement emphasises that an important strength of case studies is the ability to undertake an investigation into a phenomenon in its context; it is not necessary to replicate the phenomenon in a laboratory or experimental setting in order to better understand the phenomena.
  • Thus case studies are a valuable way of looking at the world around us. On the other hand, it is important not to confuse case studies with ethnographic and other strictly qualitative research paradigms. Case study research can be based on any mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Typically, it uses multiple data sources including two or more of direct detailed observations, interviews, and documents. In addition, case studies can involve single or multiple cases as discussed in the next section on research design.
  • Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event or community. Typically, data is gathered from a variety of sources and by using several different methods.

Do you know that the case study research method was originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e. the patient’s personal history). Case studies are widely used in psychology and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud. He conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses.

In Business management studies case studies like Malden Mills, Start bucks, Tylenol’s 1982 scandal, David VS Goliath, Tesco’s international expansion and Enron are some of the famous case studies which are so in-depth that while reading them you don’t need to use other referrals. They are well described, well analysed, with apt data and conclusions and observations.

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  1. The Best article on case Study that I have come across. I strongly agree with the author that case studies are one approach that supports deeper and more detailed investigation of the type that is normally necessary to answer how, when and why questions. Author has also explained very well that for a case study, researcher need not use complex statistical tools. Author has explained about the origin of the case study research method was in clinical medicine very well with suitable examples. Other case studies in Business management like Malden Mills, Start bucks, Tylenol’s 1982 scandal, David VS Goliath, Tesco’s international expansion and Enron are also discussed in the article. It is a complete article, very informative to Research scholars, Management students, Law students & students of social sciences. Author has done a great task by writting this article on case study by providing importance of case study in Research.

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