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Case Research Strategies

The Case Research Strategyin Studiesof Information Systems
By: Izak Benbasat Professor & Chairmanof MIS Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada V6T IY8 By: David K. Goldstein Assistant Professor of Business Administration Harvard Business School Harvard University Boston, Massachusetts 02163 By: Melissa Mead Assistant Professor of Business Administration Harvard Business School Harvard University Boston, Massachusetts 02163

Therehas beena growinginterest in the use of qualitative techniques the administrative in sciences. For example, a full issue of Administrative Science Quarterly (Volume24, 1979) has been devotedto qualitative methods. This interest has been sparked by a general dissatisfaction with the type of research information provided by quantitative techniques [51]. The dissatisfaction stems from several sources: the complexity of multivariate researchmethods, distribution the restrictions inherentin the useof these methods (e.g., multivariate normality), the large samplesizes these methods dictate, and the difficulty of understanding interpreting and the results of studies in whichcomplex quantitative methods used. are Similarly, in the information systems field, (IS) Franz and Robey [14] have suggested the use of idiographic rather than nomothetic research strategies. Idiographic research attempts to understand a phenomenon its in context. In suchresearch,the investigator intensely examines single entity or a particua lar event. Nomotheticmethods, the other on hand, seek general laws and draw solely on procedures used in the exact sciences[54]. This article discusses useof one qualitathe tive technique,the caseresearchstrategy, in studies of information systems.It provides somesuggestions about how to conduct and evaluate case study research. A sampleof case-basedresearch from selected IS journals is categorized according a set of charto acteristics developed this paper. Theartiin cles in the sample then evaluated. are Weare not advocating exclusive use of the an case strategy. Manyauthors have commented that each research strategy has advantages and disadvantages; strategy is more no appropriate than all others for all research purposes.Benbasat showed [3] that the goals of the researcher and the nature of the research topic influence the selection of a strategy. Caseresearchis particularly appropriate for certain types of problems: those in whichresearchand theory are at their early, formative stages [44], and"sticky, practicebasedproblemswherethe experiencesof the actors are importantand the context of action is critical" [4].

This article definesanddiscusses of these one qualitative methods--the caseresearchstrategy. Suggestions providedfor researchers are who wish to undertake research employing this approach.Criteria for the evaluation of case research are established and several characteristics useful for categorizing the studies are identified. A sampleof papers drawnfrom information systemsjournals is reviewed. The paper concludeswith examples of researchareasthat are particularly wellsuited to investigation usingthe caseresearch approach. ACM categories: H.O., J.O. Keywords: Case study research, data collection, informationsystems, qualitative methods,research methods.

MIS Quarterly~September1987 369

learn aboutthe state of the art. groups. how We must emphasize. the role of deregulation.they became key coma petitive factor in the changing airline industry within the last few years. Researchers usually learn by studying the innovations put in place by practitioners. many newtopics emerge each year for which valuable insights can be gainedthroughthe use of case research. and Yin [5]. [56]. A fundamental difference betweencase studies and these alternative methods is that the case study researcher mayhave less a priori knowledge of whatthe variables of interest will be and 1 they will be measured. Questionssuch as. academics were not able to’offer a set of guidelinesdescribing howan organization could effectively manage the introduction of end-usercomputing technology. one must examine the structure of the industry. environment. It is incumbent the scientists to forupon malize this knowledge proceedto a testand ing stage. In order to understand this phenomenon. Webelieve that the caseresearchstrategy is well-suited to capturing the knowledgeof practitioners and developing theories from it. whencompaniesexperienced a growthin end-usercomputing the in late 1970sand early 1980s. For our purposes. To place case studies in perspective. in field studies researchers measure independent and dependent variables in their natural context. Thesestudies then formed the basis for the development prescriptive of management guidelines (for example. rather than by providing the initial wisdom these novel for ideas.wewill drawour definition from those presented Benbasat by [3]. Second. Lawrence Lorsch chose and [29] industries that 370 MISQuarterly~September 1987 . First.airline reservation systemswere very innovative technical achievements the earin ly 1960s. or organizations). Before this formalization takes place. that is. asthetypeof industries such and thetypeof firms theywanted examine. this is a matter that of degree. and the federal laws governing the industry. In laboratory experiments the researcher measures dependent variables while manipulating independent variables in a controlled. employingmultiple methods data collection to gather informaof tion from one or a few entities (people. but in a natural setting. it is useful to contrast this approachwith other methodscommonly used by IS researchers. Case Research: Definition There is no standard definition of a case study. A case study examinesa phenomenon in its natural setting. Finally. however. For example. Researchers first descriptively studied how organizations were managingenduser computing. "Howdoes a manager effectively introducenewinformation technologies?" critiare cal ones for researchersto pursue.no control or manipulationis involved. However. a case approachis an appropriate way to researchan area in which few previous studies havebeencarried out. however. the researcher can study information systemsin a natural setting. Stone[46].There instancesof casestudies are where investigators a prior’notion certain the had of critical variables. the case methodallows the researcher to answer "how" and "why"questions. and generate theories from practice. to understand the nature and complexity of the processestaking place. For example. Table 1 contains a list of eleven characteristics of case studies summarizedfrom the papers mentioned above. Bonoma Kaplan[23]. examto For ple. Third. Similarly. IS researchers. often find themselvestrailing behind practitioners in proposing changesor in evaluating methods for developing new systems. field experiments involve the manipulation and measurement of clearly definedvariables. Christenson points out that the trial-and[9] error processin which practitioners are engagedis necessaryfor knowledge accumuto late. With the rapid paceof change the information systems in field. To summarize. Theboundariesof the phenomenon not clearly evident at the are outset of the research and no experimental control or manipulationis used. therefore. case studies could be employedto document experiencesof practice.there are three reasons why case study research is a viable information systems research strategy. the TheIS field has also seena shift fromtechnological to managerial and organizational questions. Rockart andFlannery[43]). and consequently moreinterest in howcontext and innovations interact.Case Research Strategies The information systemsarea is characterized by constanttechnological change inand novation.

5.Case Research Strategies Table 1. Our focus in this article. 2. Ginzberg [17]. and the a processof change becomes subject of rethe search. Thecomplexityof the unit is studied intensively. They alsostudied effectiveand ineffective organizations withinthesame industry wellas comparing as effective organizations in different industries. is in Data are collected by multiple means. 9.Theauthor does not conduct a researchstudy. classification and hypothesisdevelopment stages of the knowledge building process. Theseare studies in which the author. weakness the potena is tial lack of objectivity stemming from the researcher’s stake in effecting a successful outcome the client organization. the investigator should have a receptive attitude towardsexploration. group. Conversely. The focus is on contemporary events. application descriptions detail the author’s experiencesimplementing particua lar application. 10. An examplemight be the use of the sociotechnical approachfor differed their rates technological in of change. of In our surveyof the literature. Thenwe will describekey aspectsof the executionof case research. 3. Application descriptions--Written by practitioners. Mumford [35] and Morton [34]. Theinvestigator maynot specify the set of independent and dependent variables in advance.Application descriptions are not included in our definition of case research. MIS Quarterly~September 1987 371 . however. 7. However. the researcher has two objectives: to take action to solve a problem to and contribute to a set of system development concepts [8]. such as a databasemanagement system. Examples action researchin IS of are foundin Gibson [16]. but becomes participant. Theresults derived depend heavily on the integrative powers the investigator. Thus. KeyCharacteristics of CaseStudies 1. The action researcheris not an independent observer. Phenomenon examined a natural setting. 6. articles in both this The and the application descriptions categories are written by individuals whohave an insider’s view of the systemin question. system development. Caseresearchis useful in the study of "why"and "how" questionsbecause these deal with operational links to be traced over time rather than with frequencyor incidence. 4. usually a researcher. The outcomesof these published projects are almost alwayssuccessful andthe authorconcludes providinga list of by "dos" and "don’ts" for the implementation of similar systems. the objective is to successfully implement specific systemfor a a given assignment. action researcharticles are authored by those whoseoriginal intent is to conduct research while effecting change[47]. Casestudy research-In case studies the clear objective is the conduct of research. Further. weidentified three categoriesof qualitative researchthat appearto be consideredas case studies. or organization) are examined. 11. Noexperimentalcontrols or manipulationare involved. Wewill discuss considerations that are important in selecting the caseresearch approach and we will detail the mechanics executing case research. Case studies are moresuitable for the exploration. 8. instead. Thestrength of these studies is the indepth and first handunderstandingthe researcher obtains. Action research--We have also excluded action research.but of simultaneously wants evaluatea certain into tervention technique. is a participant in the implementation a system. for generalizationsto other situations where the intervention technique is applied by people less knowledgeable than the researcher may be difficult. For clarification wewill define the two excluded categories-application descriptions and action research. of Changes site selection and data collection methods in couldtake place as the investigator develops newhypotheses. Theseare efforts where research questions are specified prior to the study by researchers whoare observers/investigators rather than participants. Oneor few entities (person. includes only oneof these.

Yin [56] states For that case studies could be used to explain phenomena. when subjects or events mustbe controlled or manipulated the course of a researchproin ject. the researcher shoulddetermine unit of analysis mostapthe propriate for the project. and testing phases knowledge of accrual.the decision to use a caseapproach not clear-cut. or decisions. identified the one that provided the best explanation. Allison proposed different theories to account for the same course of events. 3.. Research that is not strictly exploratory or descriptive maybe enhanced using quailby Table 2. When case approachis deemed the appropriate. in of Table2 gives their terminologyfor the traditional exploration. Will the studyfocus on individuals. Conversely. example. and suggested how this theory could be useful to understandother situations. the researchershould closely examinethe research questions to be pursued. is Quite often. Bonoma’s [5] Framework Drift Design Number of Cases Single or multiple case(s) Multiple cases Yin’s [56] Framework Description Exploration 372 MISQuarterly~September 1987 . for instance? Casemethodologyis clearly useful whena natural setting or a focus on contemporary events is needed. To judge the appropriatenessof the casestrategy. groups (e. the researcher should consider what generalizations are hopedfor at the project’s completion.g. Finally. Bonoma suggests that the case strategy could play a role in both hypothesis generation and hypothesistesting. profit center. Does the researcher hope to generalize to other organizations. Unit of Analysis Prior to searchingfor sites. individuals. hypothesis generation. a task force. Similarly. 2. IS group)or an entire organization? Alternatively. The remainder of this section offers practical aid to researchers underfor standing and implementing case research. however. wecan ask the following questions (drawnfrom Table 1): 1. the unit of analysismay be a specific project or decision. the caseapproach not suitable. Canthe phenomenon interest be studof ied outside its natural setting? Must the study focus on contemporary events? Is control or manipulation subjects or of events necessary? Does the phenomenon interest enjoy of an established theoretical base? tative methods. considers Allison’s [1] study He of the Cubanmissile crisis an exampleof suchstudies. 4.Case Research Strategies Conducting Case Research Research themes and objectivesDeciding on case research Given a specific researchquestion. Both Yin [56] is and Bonoma discuss the usefulnessof the [5] caseapproach various phases research. one must ask whether the case method a useful apis proach. Bauer(as reportedin Towl[50]) refers to the useof the critical case (crucial experiment) test a wellto foundedtheory. In making this determination. Terminologies for Stagesof Case Research Programs Traditional Phases of Knowledge Accrual Exploration Hypothesis generation Hypothesistesting ¯ Confirmation ¯ Disconfirmation Explanation Explanation Prediction Disconfirmation Multiple cases Singlecritical case. research phenomena supportedby a strong theoretical not base maybe fruitfully pursuedthrough case research.A rich natural setting canbe fertile groundfor generating theories. Theseoften indicate an appropriate unit of analysis. researchersmaybe uncertain about how to proceed.

Mostresearchefforts require multiple cases.e. Finally. Regular scans of business newspapersandperiodicals often turn up potential sites. the researchercan extendand revise the initial propositionsof the study. or similar results are predicted maybe used as "literal" replications. organizational structure. Twokey points to be addressedin order to gain cooperationare confidentiality and benefits to the organization. and marketing or financial researchdata maybe helpful. Yin suggestssingle-case studies are appropriate if: 1) 2) 3) It is a reve/atory case. Researchers interested in specific technologies. colleagues. be preparecarefully beforeplacing a cold call or writing to the organization. Library researchusing indexesof industries. the topic of studyis key to determining whom contact. The researcher should clearly describe the project and who will be involved--researchers.geographic coverage. however. It is an extreme uniquecase.. Multiple-Case Designs Central to caseresearchdesign is the decision to includeoneor severalcases the proin ject." for the MIS Quarterly~September1987 373 . The contact should be told the amount time. Site Selection Thefactors that dictate a single-case design also determinesite selection. specific sites maybe identified and approached. Multiple-case designs are desirable whenthe intent of the researchis description. a the single case maybe useful as a pilot study. effort andexpense of required of the organization. With careful site selection. Thatis. Oncethe limiting factors are determined. sites where According Yin[56. businessliterature. multiple cases yield moregeneral research results. for chosensuch that contradictory results are predicted. Thegoal will be to determine appropriate the unit and familiarize the researcherwith the phenomenon its context. Researchers may begin site selection by considering nature the of their topic. choices must be made. it is a situation previously inaccessible to scientific investigation. Colleagues may able to help with introductions.assistants.single-case study projects are mostuseful at the outset of theorygeneration andlate in theory testing. respectively. If not. public or private ownership. Theorby ganization and its employees must knowthat the researcher will not betray their con- As Table 2 shows. p. to challenge or extend theory. theory building. prediction. The researcher mustprovide assurance that the organization will not be harmed its participation. Research organization-level on phenomena would require site selection basedon the characteristics of firms. Site selection shouldbe carefully thoughtout rather than opportunistic. It represents critica/case for testing a a 2 well-formulatedtheory. This corresponds Boto noma’s drift stage in which researchers learn first handthe relevant jargon and context in which the phenomenon be studied. These three correspondto Bonoma’s design. These mayinclude the industry. Hereagain. a theremay exist a singlecase.or acquaintances a good to identify potential is way researchlocations. company size. or company employees. Adopting this point of view. A sinwill gle casemayalso be used to test the boundaries of well-formedtheory. 42]"Toconfirm. Of course. sites maybe chosen "theoretical" replication. in Single-Casevs.Case Research Strategies When research is highly exploratory. Approaching potential site is a crucial the point in orchestratinga caseresearch project. and so on. A single case used for exploration maybe followed by a multiple-case study.but single casesare useful in specific instances. or theory testing. talking with friends. degree vertical or horizontal inof tegration. When multiple casesare to be included in a study. Yin proposes criteria for two selecting potential sites.i. Multiple-case designsallow for cross-caseanalysis and the extension of theory. and disconfirmation stages. First.It is quite useful to considera multiple-caseproject as analogous to the replication that is possiblewith multiple traditional experiments[19]. profit/not-for-profit status. Second.IS methodologies or organizational structures should consider these characteristics when selecting sites. The researchermust to eventually contact the individual with enough authority to approvethe project. meetingall theconditions testing theory.

outputs. actions. tools. to results and conclusions. in detail. Two researcherscan capture greater richness of data and rely moreconfidently on the accuracy of the data. wesurveyed 374 MISQuarter/y/September 1987 . the datato begathered. The researcher’s reasoning in establishing causeand effect or drawingout hypotheses should be clearly stated and defended.archival records and physical artifacts) as well as questionsfor interviews and plans for direct observation.thereis the adis If ditional benefit of recognitionandpublicity.unexpected observations. 1. Specific data to be collected will depend on the researchquestionsand the unit of analysis. and a clear chain of evidenceshould be established. [53] et on unobtrusive measures). 3. Interviews--These maybe open-en. personnelor financial records. The organization mayor maynot wish to be identified whenthe research published. as well as capturing the contextual complexity. Data Collection Methods Multiple data collection methods typically are employed case research studies. Usof ing multiple methods data collection. and developing a relationship with the researcher. Workingwith a researchpartner mayalso provide invaluable assistance. Prior to site visits. or subtleties of the field environment (see Webb. the researchershould be meticulous in record-keeping.Readers shouldbe able to follow this path readily. As much possible. This may include a list of materials to be collected (documentation. to specific data uncovered. the researcher should outline. Physical artifacts--Devices. or limitations and opportunities.Case Research Strategies fidence. It gives the researchera guide from whichto work. Thegoal is to obtain a rich set of data surroundingthe specific researchissue. 4. search questions and excellent use of time spent on-site. The researcher’sgoal shouldbe to collect data in such a waythat anotherresearchercould pick it up and immediatelyunderstand and work it withit. Ideally.. getting feedback and newinsights from the researcher. This formalization helps coordination whenmultiple investigators worktogether. The key elements of data analysis are also critical to the written results of case research. Finally. It also provides some separation of data collection from data analysis. 5. Dataanalysis andexpositionTheanalysis of case data depends heavily on the integrative powers the researcher.In addition. the plan will be revised accordingto the researcher’s judgement. offers the opportunityfor triangulation and lends greater support to the researcher’s conclusions. it does. Thebenefits to an organization participating in a researchproject are varied. The goals of this planning should be to ensuregoodcoverage the reof A Critique of Case-Based Research To gain an understandingof the nature and quality of case research on IS. al. Documentation--Written material ranging from memoranda newspaperclipto pings to formal reports. to assumptions and design choices. Archival records--Organization charts. 78]. service. Direct observation--Absorbing and noting details. there is the opportunity to contribute to knowledge and business research. as time passes. howof ever. Cookand Campbell [10]). and finally. the researcher should seek assurancethat reasonable candor will be provided and that essential data will be made available. As the project unfolds. in evidence from two or moresources will converge to support the research findings.Preciousdata maybe lost whenentrusted to memory not organized or as soon after collection as possible. They inmay clude learning moreabout the organization. This is particularly important in multiple case designs where. This planning stage helps to structure projects that are inherently flexible. 2. p. the details of various sites tend to run together.ded or focused (See Bouchard[6]. Yin identifies several Sourcesof evidencethat workwell in caseresearch[56. The research should move from objectives and questions. the contextual and data as richness of the study should be presented. Onthe other hand.

about10% the articles in the MISQuarterly of were case studies. Solutions had a substantial proportion of caseresearch articles (about25% the arof ticles published). Her case study attemptedto find the reasonsfor the contradictory outcomesof implementation. the lack of consonance between distribution of power the implied by the systemand the distribution of powerwithin the organization causedthe failure of one plant to adoptthe system. Since the opportunity was unique. in 3 In ourestimation.Our intention was to provide examplescase of studies. The Proceedings the International Conferof ence on Information Systems. That is. 4 Hamilton Ives[18]. After four years as an independent publication. based a sample IS artiand on of cles from15journalspublished between 1970-79. The reader could only infer that interviews took place. But how does one accountfor the later reversal? Markusproposeda "distribution of power" model explain the different reactions to the to system. Solutions. IS case MISQuarterly~September1987 375 . The history of the implementationprocess. in We approached critique of the articles in the our sample two parts. which spanned period of six years. the journal merged with Information and 4 Management 1985. Quarterly.udies. welooked at in four casestudies in detail andevaluated their strengths and weaknesses. Thus. even if we include the action research and application description articles in this journal. First. The up of Proceedings the International Conference of on Information Systems included seven case papers. The syste m was readily accepted in oneplant.eventhoughsome previous researchon the same topic existed. and Systems.Case Research Strategies the following journals and conferencepro-’ 3 ceedings for the period January1981to December1985: Communications for the ACM. caseresearchmakes only 10% all articles. Systems. Markus stated that an explanationbased on user participation could only partially account for these findings.Objectives. of Based a similar sample on between 1977-83. Markusalso explained why one systemwasrejected at first. but waseventually. After excludingthe two categoriesof application descriptionsandaction research articles. Vogel ¯ andWetherbe reportthat about of the pub[52] 17% lished articleswere st. Information and Management. since direct quotations from the people in- Fourcaseresearch studies Wechosethe following four casestudies becauseeachtook a different approach investo tigation andthey illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses case study research. again about one per year.Based this same on model. Markuswasinterested in answeringa "why" question: Whywas the system used in one plant and not in another?The fact that both units were within a single company increased the internal validity of the casestudy. Compared these journals.Then. Markus: IS Implementation-Markus [32] examined the use of a "production planning and profit analysis system" two manufacturin ing plants within the same division of a company. we identified only five case papers in the Communications the ACM. A large numberof possible causes for the acceptance in one plant and not in the other could be eliminated since the sites sharedthe same organizational setting and company history. acceptedwhenthe organizational conditions that led to the initial rejection werechanged. we rated the whole sampleof case studies based on our guidelines for conductingcase studies. wasdea scribed in detail. Therewere few case papers in Information and Management. these were IS journals the most likely to publish case-type articles.wasthe total lack of detail aboutthe data collection methodology. Markus’research had to be carried out in a natural setting sinceit tracedthe evolutionof the system’simplementation from rejection to acceptanceand the reasons for the switch. Markus addedto our knowledge about the implementation of systems. to doanexnot haustive search. but wasat first stronglyrejected in the other (eventually it wasput into use). Finally. observed that 14% these werecasestudies.an average of of one per year. Markustook advantage a unique opof portunity to study an implementationissue. to Objectives. Oneflaw in the study though. Sheobservedthat the plant that accepted the systemexhibited a higher degree user participation than the of onethat rejected the system initially.This journal publishedcase research articles in each issue and encouraged researchersto submit case studies.

"relies on the fact that outcomes the different sites in were the results of identified differences in those factors measured its conclusions" for [39.. and interpersonal factors influenced the implementation process. Asa final check accuracy. pp. Did he know aboutthe outcome (failure of system) before he analyzed retrospectively the eventsthat took place?If this is the case. and telephonecalls that precededand followed site visits.he choseeight sites that were as similar as possible basedon a number characteristics. Onecriticism of the study is that Dutton did not clearly define his original research objectives.different interpretations if they wished. governmentreports. Pyburn: Strategic IS Planning-Pyburn [39] investigated IS strategic planning processes that wereunderway several companies. coupled with the lack of effectiveness of existing IS planning methodologies. the investigator wasin the discovery stage. However. washis intention to study the implementationof computer-based systems city governments describe the in and factors influencing the outcomes? the latter In case. Dutton described events in such detail that readerscould make their own. Theimpetusfor the study wasthe growingimportance suchplans in the sucof cessof the overall IS effort. the sequence of events wasreconstructed basedon newspaper accounts." werenot immediatelyevident. However. then his original objective might have beento explore whya failure had occurred. 4-5]. Some these characteristics. a literal repliof cation. and the actors associatedwith the implementation process. the organizational and political environment. the reasons for other characteristicsof the site selection. he describedin detail howthe organizational and technical factors were contingent on the political ones." madeobvious sense. additional data sourceswereused for triangulationandvalidation. It appeared that Pyburn was more concerned with choosing highly similar sites. memos. over 20 lengthy unstructured interviews with participants having different perspectives on implementation. in the formercasehe wasattemptingto find the factors that caused particular outa come. webelieve that a clear statement the initial of objectives of the researcher should have beenprovided in the study description. Pyburn conducted indepth interviewswith the senior IS executiveand the top management (four to six individuals). organizational. The method used was a comparative case study which. He wantedto understandwhya particular methodologyworked well in some settings but not in others. team Heused a series of questionsto gather data 376 MISQuarterly~September 1987 .It is an exploratory paperthat reveals an important factor in the implementationprocess. in examinedthe businessand technical context in which these plans were developed. a topic weknow little about. Further.Case Research Strategies volved were usedto support the author’s arguments. Dutton stated that his study contributed to our understanding the process of of innovationrejection. Therefore. as described by Pyburn. The purposeof the study wasto examinethe limitations of both the technical andorganizational perspectives of the implementation process.i. rather than choosinga model group that wasrepresentative of companies involved in strategic IS planning. if any. Dutton explained howtechnical. draft of for a the paper was sent to several respondents and important participants whohad not previously beeninterviewed. and generated preliminary conclusionsaboutthe success or failure of the planning activity. Asidefromthis.Since these concernsmight affect the way the researcher approached data collection and thoughtaboutthe issues in the case. it is not clear what.e. Following a 16-page description of the events. he concluded that the greatest determinant wasthe political environment. Thisis of particular concern because history of the project the covered six years and the memoriesof the participants mayhave beeninconsistent. Dutton: Adoption of a Fiscal Impact ModeI--Dutton’s [12] study of the City of Tulsa’s adoptionof a fiscal impactmodel its and eventual rejection was outstanding among casestudies welookedat for the rich level of detail it provided about the implementation process. According to Dutton. such of as "the company had formal business planning for five years" and "top managers were willing to commit time to assist the research. In eachsite. such as "the companies were dominatedby a founding family" and "had corporate headquarters in relatively small cities. Alternatively. documents. wedo not knowwhyhe chose this particular site.

Nevertheless. written-formal. A drawback this workwasthat the type of of detailed descriptions found in the Dutton and the Markuspapers were not provided in this paper. suchas the perceived status of the IS manager the complexity of the IS and environment. prior to the first interview.the reader has to rely on the author’s interpretation and cannotinterpret the data independently. Two computer-based systems (one an accounts receivable system. the systems development function wascentralized. a side-by-side presentation of all comments made each by interviewee for each topic was provided. Theseresults were baseduponvery small samples users of and analysts in eachorganization.the company’s IS planningpractices. headministered a questionnaire that contained items similar to the questions subsequently posedin the interviews. Since none of these planning approaches appeared to be uniformly successful in all the companies in which they were implemented. Olson’sresults showed that in the decentralized developmentgroup users had a higher level of information satisfaction. all of this information was tied togetherandthe critical factors in the successof a particular planning style were identified. Thisled to a focused approachto the interviews and site selection.Case Research Strategies concerningthe nature of the business.In one case. Of course.Furthermore. Olsoncontended that there is no best wayto organize the system development function. Pyburn forth clear research set objectivesprior to data collection. Pyburn pursueda contingencyanalysis. in the other it wasdecentralized to businessdivisions. recently completed systems were MIS Quarter/y/September 1987 377 . usersparticipated less in the design of the system. Theuse of multiple sites allowed him to attempt a contingencyanalysis. the factors critical to its success. For a given topic. The questionnaire data were analyzed using nonparametric statistical methods. Booksor monographs might be better vehicles to publish case study research.Finally. This is a good exampleof an exploratory case study that proposed a classification schemefor MIS planning that could be further refined and tested in other studies. For example. Olson chose her sample to bring out the differences associated with alternative organizations of the systemdevelopment function.) Based the interview data andpartially supon ported by questionnaireresults. a fact acknowledged Olson. the interview data. personal-formal. In orderto increase reliability of the the data collection processand to reduceinterviewee bias.a personal-informal style depended both an informal general on managementstyle and high IS manager status. andthe useof triangulation in data collection. wereidentified as important influenceson the success failure of the planor ning process. Shesuggestedseveral by conclusions about the effectiveness of user participation in the development process. Pyburnidentified three IS planning styles: personalinformal. and analysts wereless satisfied with their jobs than in the centralized group. Olson: Centralization of the SystemDevelopmentFunction--Olson [37] examined the issue of whether the systems developmentfunction shouldbe centralized or located in the user organization. Theviewsof the various participants in the development process were sought and data were collected by multiple means. and Hethen determinedthe degreeof successof IS strategic planning in eachcompany. and administeredquestionnaires users as well as to those whowerepart of the designeffort. the journal mayhave imposed length limitations that made impossiit ble to presentthe data collected from eachof the eight sites. Shetherefore conducted in-depth study of two oran ganizations orderto identify the factors that in influence the organization of the systemdevelopment function and the quality of the developmentprocess. Hecarefully explainedeachstep of a logical processthat eventually culminatedin a preliminary typology of strategic MISplanning. She conductedextensive interviews with IS managers key particiand pants in the systemdesign process. a For casedescription waswritten for eachorganization. Based an analon ysis of the literature. the other a benefits system) were selected from two large multidivisional companies. the decision depends on factors outside the IS function. A number of factors. the case descriptions and commentswere not included in the publishedpaper and are presumably part of Pyburn’sdoctoral thesis on whichthe article wasbased. (However. andthe extent to which IS wasaddressingthe critical needsof the firm.

and concluded that the interaction theory did a better job of explaining the causes resistanceto a system.g. For example.. this study could be considered only a basic exploratory casestudy. study methodology well-suited to identifyis ing key eventsand actors and to linking them in a causal chain. the impact of technology on personnel [28]. as well as a sample of othersidentified in our survey. Onecommon feature of all four studies. Examplesof case study topics are: the impactof organizationalstrategyon the IS organization’sstructure[45]. Research Themes The predominant themein the case studies wasimplementation. a case 378 MISQuarterly~September 1987 . An inthe vestigator conducting field study or experia ment mainly relies on theory or a priori reasoningto deductively arrive at the outcomes. An exceptionis the study by Ives and Olson[21] which basically describedthe nature of an IS manager’sjob. but differed in termsof sample selection and data gathering methods. Among the exceptions were Pyburn [39] and Hirschheim [20]. since the outcomeswere based only on a sample of two companies.are outlined in Table3. the investigators collected data. Kraemer [27] and Dutton [12] described the implementation of model-basedsystemsin the public sector. system-determined. and the role of users in DSS development ]. of Some other studies also followed an explanatory strategy by testing hypotheses derived from a single theory (or a priori reasoning). Eachof these studies used a sample of one case. and is influenced by events that happen unexpectedly. [11]). the objective of the study wasseldom clearly specified. Since the process of implementation takes place over time. and inductively developed causal links to explain particular outcomes. is a complex processinvolving multiple actors. who stated that their objectives were to describe and explore a phenomenon that was not wellunderstood. Wewould characterize most of the case studies as exploratory in nature. They described the context in which an intervention occurredand the intervention itself. Finally.g.In these four studies. The IS departmentsof the two companies and their activities weredescribed reasonable in detail. that is.While on the positive side the explanations were groundedin observedfacts. [31 ResearchObjectives In the published case research we surveyed. distilled the evidence. We’ll evaluatethe casestudies in our survey basedon our guidelines for conducting case research. For example. the impact of IS on organizational change[41. Markus [33]). A strength of the paperwasthe author’s attemptto provide explanations for the outcomes basedon what was observed from the cases. Markus [33] evaluated three theories of resistance: peopledetermined. For example. Kling and lacono [26]. Some case studies pursued an explanatory strategy by first describing the events that took place and then presenting multiple competing theories to explain the course events of (e. and interaction-determined. but little wasoffered to the reader aboutthe companies themselves. It is clear that the casestudies have both similarities and differences. It wasdifficult to determine if the researcherswere at the same time attempting to generate hypotheses. the influence of technology organizaon tional communications the factors affect[15]. Almostall of these exploratory studies concludedwith a list of suggestionsto improvethe success future of implementation efforts. the Pyburnand Dutton studies were both exploratoryin nature. ing the successof end-userdeveloped applications [40]. wasthe detailed explanations that accompanied findings.Case Research Strategies chosento minimize the problemsassociated with retrospective data collection. the possible causes the success failure of an informaof or tion or decision supportsystem(e. whichis not evident in the larger sample outlined in Table 3. wewill describe the nature and general quality of case research in IS. White[55] examined influence of the cogthe nitive style composition a project teamon of An overall evaluation of case studies In this section. The characteristics of the four case studies discussed above. 42]. our concernis that these facts werefiltered throughthe subjective lensesof the investigators.. Franzand Robey [14].

differing on the degreeof centralization of system development 2 plants within samecompany differing on impleme_ntation success 8 companies chosen based on similar characteristics 1 U. Bronsema. but at aggregate level High Keen.S. newuser. inferred to be interviewed High _Pyburn[39] IS strategic planning Exploration Organizations Interview and questionnaire Multiple sources. An Illustrative Categorizationof a Sample CaseStudies of Data Collection Units of Analysis Method Group Interview and questionnaire Level of Description About Units High Theme OIson [37] Centralization/ decentralization of system development Implementation Research Thrust Sample Selection Exploration 2 IS groups. city Markus [32] Explanation Organizational subunit Unspecified.Table 3. high degreeof triangulation Interviews Low Dutton [12] Implementation of models in the public sector Participative systemsdesign Exploration and explanation Exploration Organization Very High Hirschheim[20] 20 individuals from 8 organizations with experiencein participative design 2 MIS project teamsin the samecompany differing in the cognitive style compositionof their members 6 IS managers chosen based on several common criteria Banks 9 countries (part of in an international bank) selected on a number criteria of 2 organizations. one localized experienced user Individuals and organizations Low White [55] Cognitive styles of MIS project teams Explanation Groups Interviews Low Ives and Olson [21] Nature of IS manager’sjob Exploration Individuals Observations of each managerfor 3-4 days Interviews High. and Zuboff [24] Implementation of common systems an international in banking setting Effect of videoconferencing on organizational communication User-led system design Exploration and explanation Organizational subunits Fulk and Dutton [15] Exploration Organization Interview High Franz and Robey [14] Exploration and explanation 1 IS development team Group Longitudinal and multiple sources High .

[24]) were the authors’ stated objectives both the exploration and testing of the explanatorypower of theories. Even though this study appeared to be a single-case. of Several of the casesexamined single coma pany or a subunit. do not wish to sinwe gle out her workfor criticism since this was typical of the casestudies in our sample. and the complexity of the operation. the size of the country. Similarly. This is a problem consistent with the lack of clear researchobjectives discussedabove. other a failthe ure with the same computerizedsystem) and the unusual insights it offered. In summary. Schonberger [45] observedtwo organizations that haddifferent IS department structures.a problem of embedded designs that Yin [56] mentioned and this study appeared have. They thus did not justify their researchpurpose (drift. Although Schonbergerclearly stated that he first observed organizations with two different IS department structures and then got interested in testing the influence of strategy on structure basedon Chandler’s[7] theory. Keen.e.Therewasless focus on the context and morefocus on a few aspects of the subunits. perceived ease of implementation. Twoof the sites. wereselected for indepth analysis. Markus’[32] study previously describedwasa single-case sample containing two embedded units of analysis (two plants within the samedivision). description. in their paperonfactors affect- Unit of AnalysisandSite Selection Theunit of analysis for a casestudy.and probably an outcome it.However. and consequently the selection of a particular site for to study. they were presumably chosen based on availability and evidently the researchers’ goals were to conduct exploratory case studies. However. by the prediction and disconfirmation strategies suggested by Bonoma [5]. wasnot providedin many the pubof lished works.or if sheintendto ed to test a hypothesisand then searched for an ideal sample project teams of with different compositions.Case Research Strategies its performance. which differed the most in terms of criteria.et al.et on of al. To examine influence of strategy on structhe ture. this study seemedto fall somewhere between a case and a field study. due to the decentralizednature of the sites. In only oneinstance (Keen. Olson[37] chose sites--one in which two the system developmentfunction was centralized andone in whichit wasdecentralized. For example. These provided priori explanations majorfactors a of that influence the successor failure of implementation efforts. This wasan embedded case study design in which the researchers conductedquantitative analysis of a large numberof subunits. unique or revelatory cases. White appearedto be moreambiguous. A study by Ein-Dor and Segev[13] measured the relationship between success an IS the of and the perceived importance and investmentin that system. to measure effects of centralizathe tion. Thus. pace. geographical dispersion. study’s researchthemeand objective. Twoorganizational changeparadigms (the Lewin-Schein and Kolb-Frohman models)were used for theory testing. The sites were chosenpartly because they differed in termsof the outcome variable of interest. Since these typically did not represent critical. it could unit be considereda multiple-case design. is that it to makes subunitsthe sole focus of the study the and ignores the context--the characteristics of the organizationas a whole.It is not clear if shefirst observed protwo ject teams with different cognitive styles and decided test a hypothesis. exploration and explanation) and did not allow readersto judge their workon a moreinformed basis. 380 MISQuarterly~September 1987 .. Schonberger and [45] tested the hypothesis that organization strategies will influencethe structure of the IS organization. but had the strengths of neither. andpartly on an opportunistic basis. embedded analysis. Based a large number criteria. [24] selected ninesites (countries)affiliated with an international bank. It wasrare becauseof the unique outcomes the implementationproof cess(oneplant hada success. Theorytesting wasdone both by goodness of fit and by counterexamples. They examined sub10 systems supported a logistics IS in a large by organization in Israel. Thecriteria included IS development strategy. The sites for some the multiple-case reof search studies were chosen based on the . we found that the IS case researchers we surveyed did not provide clear descriptionsof where their topics fit in the knowledgebuilding process.. i. focus.

e. 27]. To study user involvement IS design. The only study that useda longitudinal methodology is also an exemplary effort of data collection [14]. Only one casestudywasa triangulation in that it wasa follow-up to a survey[15]. but they did not provideany moredetail aboutthem. Thesestudies weresimilar to the Dutton [12] studyin the richness their of descriptions and data sources. Eventhoughthe samples appeared be from differing organizations. Sometimes researchers menthe tioned that they used documents and observations. Theinterview questionswere rarely specified and.g. a notable exception. as we mentionedin our discussion of Pyburn’s study [39]. when they were. Onewasa large aerospace company with offices on the east and west coasts that had recently started using videoconferencing. to the researcher not explicitly state whether did a literal or theoreticalreplicationwas goal.the three cases were chosenfrom a larger samplebecause of their uniquecharacteristics. For example. Data Collection In about half of the case studies. but the linkage to the larger study was not describedin the paper[41]. and designers.Case Research Strategies ing user involvement in DSSdevelopment. and the third based a possiblecausalfactor. In contrast to Pyburn’sapproach. though. the researcher sought a homogeneous sample with as manysimilar characteristics as possible [39]. for Authors our sample not indicate if their in did case studies were part of systematic/programmatic research plans. Nevertheless. In any case. In the second company. or whether cases the were chosen exploratoryor illustrative reasons. in MISQuarterly~September 1987 381 . managers.. Most seemed to be stand-alone. was Sometimes the reasons for site selection were not easy to infer. In some studies. researchers interviewed individuals who different perspectiveson had a given process. majorshift from a manit ual system to a computerizedsystem and it wasself-contained. the data collection method wasnot specified at all. out of 17 2 branches were selected becausethe implementation of a system went smoothly in one and was"less successful" in the other. i.it wasin a very general form. the In one study [28] the three caseswerechosen for a variety of disparate reasons. Mann and Watson[31] presented three cases that demonstratedsubstantially different degrees of user involvement. In on this particular study. None the multiple-case of studies clearly stated the site selection objectives.e.the reader is not told whether . included the questions used in his semistructuredinterview in an appendix. it wasdifficult to infer whether authors’ goal wasa literal or theothe retical replication. Webelieve that a clear description of data sourcesand the way they contribute to the findings of the research is an important aspect the reliability andvaof lidity of the findings. The third company included in the sample was because hada recent. whether the investigatorpursued literal or a theoretia cal replication. Yin’s [56] suggestions aboutdescribing the case study protocol and having a case study database can serve as important guidelines. However. users.Fulk and Dutton [15]. chosetwo companies different with characteristics. A few studies of implementation the public in sector collected data from a large number of sources[25. Another casestudy waspart of a large-scaleeffort to studyvarious aspectsof IS and their organizationalimpact. Hirschheim [20].Onecompany waschosenbecauseone of the authors wasinvolved in the implementation a sysof tem there. it wasnot obviouswhythese particular characteristics were chosen. the data were collected by multiple means. there would be a high degree confidence of that only those factors causedthe observeddifferences. the investigator did not knowin advance what independent variables would prove to be important. the second due to the observed outcomes. The secondwas a large western public utility with severalyearsof routine utilization. Almostall of the studies used interviews for data collection.the other half relied solely on interviews. in their study of the impact of videoconferencingon organizational communications. However.the rationale for choosing particua lar site combination stated. in most instances. The idea wasto minimizethe extraneous variablesso that if significant factors wereindeedfound. It thus appeared that the first casewaschosen opportunistically. one-shot studies.Robey (1983) studied eight companies located different countries. In two case studies.. In other instances.

Noresearchstrategy is better than all others. A systematic study of several companieswithin one industry could provide important insights into why somecompaniesuse information technology moresuccessfully than others. 37]. no mention wasmade them. among other factors. Keen. In the IS area.in the study of information technology and corporate strategy. there is to evidence that somecompaniesuse information technology more effectively as a strategic weapon than others [38]. a substantial problem with most of the case studies observed. This type of research will allow us to build a cumulativetradition and to make normative statements to guide managerialactions.This revelatory use of the case methodcan provide hypothesesabout the impact of expert systemstechnology on organizations. The case research strategy has mostly been used for exploration and hypothesis generation. Unlike some the contributors to Mumford. In order to achieve triangulation.explain whyit might be utilized in IS studies. [24] usedan outside expert with no knowledge the systembeing implementof ed to interview participants with whom rethe searchteam(authors) had already talked and whowerein conflict. Exploration in is. Since expert systems are just beginning to be introduced into organizations. survey its uses in IS research within the last five years. Bakos Treacy[2. of et al. they attemptedto get both an objective view of eventsandthe subjective interpretations of participants. p.et al. The selection of a research strategy depends on the current knowledge a topic and the naof ture of the topic. A few studies included quantitative observations. observations at meetings and tape recordings. there is some merit to both the view that morecase research is neededand Concluding Comments Our intent in this article wasto clarify the nature of the case researchmethod. The use of an expert systemfor management support isone such area. a case study of companies that are rather far alongin the useof sucha system wouldprovide valuable insights. the only reasonfor applying not the case method. For example.Case Research Strategies the investigators collected data over a twoyear period.If other studies usedsuchtechniquesto increasethe objectivity of data collection. degreeof detail about data colthe lection methodswasnot very revealing. of Case data in the research surveyed was mostly qualitative. In general. new interest has shifted to organizational and rather than technical issues. 107] believe and that: As this area of researchmatures. unstructured interviews. [36]. however. like a field experiment. From of the case studies conducted date.mostly in the form of questionnaire data [12. Sviokla [48] has examined an expert systemthat how assists financial plannersaffects their jobs andthe quality of the plansthey produce. critical incident files. wedo not advocate exclusivereliance on case/action research methods. This wasdoneto reduce any bias arising from the expectationsof the researchers. These hypotheses can then be tested using another researchmethod. case studies have beenhelpful in identifying the causalchainthat led to the success failor ure of an information systemby revealing in chronological fashion the various actors and events that influenced the final outcome.As discussedearlier. In this way. One of the more difficult decisions that researchers must makeis to determine when further case studies are needed an emergin ing researcharea. however. For example. The casestrategy is particularly well-suited to IS researchbecause technologyis relatively the 382 MISQuarterly~September 1987 . This is a legitimate wayof addingto the bodyof knowledge the IS field. Severalcurrent topics within IS researchare amenableto the case study approach. and offer somesuggestions for improvement. data were gathered through questionnaires. The relationship betweeninformation technology and corporatestrategy is anotherarea that could be explored further using a structured program multiple casestudies. 22. documentsand memoranda.there is an increasing need to movebeyond frameworks and toward explanatory models of the underlying phenomena. various authors have suggestedthe use of cases for providing explanation and for testing hypotheses.

" Theywant to examine processesin order to better understandthe effects of information technology on the people work who with it. the investigators had not considered some the methodological of issues.)."in The Information Systems Research Challenge.V. MIS Quarterly~September1987 383 . In general. the casemethod also offers little control over the antecedent condition. pp. search: Marketing Implementation. HarvardBusinessSchool Press.Case Research Strategies the view that quantitative techniquesshould be employed. In this article weidentified a number probof lems that were common most of the case to research studies in the sample. 47-85." Journal of Marketing Research. intent is to carThe ry out a detailed. Number2. in many it instances." MISQuarterly. Volume 22. Number2. Bonoma. suchas the economic impact of investing in information technology. independent variables. 2. and whileboth methods requirelittle a priori specification of dependent variables and their measurement allow the investigator to use a high degree discretion in structuring and interof preting the data. Hethanks the Fellowship program for its support during the 1985-86 academicyear."Case Researchin Marketing: Opportunities.T. Essence Decisionmaking: of Explaining Cuban the Missile Crisis. it should adhereto certain rules of procedure. Thereis an interesting parallel betweenour call for higher quality caseresearch and the argument presented by Todd and Benbasat [49] for increased use of protocol analysis in the study of decision supportsystems.Case studies can provide the organizational context for the study of the relationship betweenstrategy and information technology. pp. In many casesthe data collection method was ambiguousand details were not provided. the objectives of the researchers werenot clearly specified. they are critical to allowing readersto assessthe reliability andvalidity of the study’sfindings. Problems. References 1. In this way. The key difference between the case researchmethod protocol analysis is that.g. the Thepoint is that a casestudy should be more than an exercisein storytelling or an opinion piece. Warren McFarlan(ed. "A CaseStudy in CaseRe4. Massachusetts. Bonoma. pp. "Information Technology CorporateStrategy: and A Research Perspective.as describedin Yin [56] and discussed here. appearsto us that. T. Yin states that the reader of the casestudy shouldbe able to follow the derivation of any evidencefrom initial researchquestions to the conclusions the study. Little. surveyor experiment. In a similar way. Harvard University GraduateSchool of Business Administration. Massachusetts. This is importantevenin this stage of the research. Although these proceduresare not as detailed as one wouldfind in a field study. Volume10. Massachusetts1971. T. Boston. andtheir influenceon the technology. M. May 1985. Boston. J. indepth examinationof a small number individuals. May 1983. e. Bakos. I. and a Process. A formal model can provide significant insights into the more quantitative aspectsof the issue. and Treacy. Theuseof triangulation to increasereliability wasrare. This chainof eviof dence will improve reliability of the data. of case research obtains detailed data about one or a few units. However.V. Boston. Some of these might be alleviated by asking the authors to provide moreinformation about their researchobjectives and researchplans. Brown." Working Paper 9-585-142. Allison. 1984.E. 3. F. "An Analysis of Research Methodologies.Y. Recently there have been calls for a more detailed understanding of phenomena the in IS area.. IS researcherscan better contribute to the knowledgebuilding process and IS case researchwill come into its own. The use of protocol analysis in IS studies has increased within the last few years because many researchersbelieve that they haveto openthe "black box. Benbasat. Thereasonsfor selecting single-case versus multiple-case designs werenot explainedand the choiceof particular sites wasnot tied to the designapproach. Acknowledgement Professor Benbasat wasa Marvin BowerFellow at the Harvard Business School while workingon this paper. 107-119. June 1986. G. 5.

NewYork. Hamilton. Christenson. and lacono. Boston. Ives. Volume 24. 1962.S. J. 1986. pp.D. ber 1983.R.. "Proposalsfor a Program of Empirical Research into the Properties of Triangles. R.L.Case Research Strategies 199-208.D. S. Bronsema. 1981. and Zuboff. D. and Segev. 23. and Smith. Investment. Schultz and D.P. Detjejarvwat. R. Solutions. 20. N. 21. NewYork.F. 6. P.Objectives. 1979." Systems." in Industrial andOrganizational Psychology. pp. Objectives. NewYork.H. 207-226. 16. F. Franz.D. Objectives. Volume5. T. RandMcNally. Bouchard. P." Systems. 61-67. NewYork. "MIS Research Strategies. pp.Objectives. MIT Press.C. 1218-1226. or the MIS Zoo. Dickson. M. Number December 4. 295-304. "Videoconferencing as an OrganizationalInformation System: Assessing. pp. D. Volume Num9."Field Research Methods."Systems. MacKenzie. Number April 1984. 1. M. 28. "The Politics of ModelImplementation. T. pp.and Janson. December 1985. K. Volume Number 1. 26. 1975.Volume27. New York.. B.D. ber 4. Volume2. Dutton." Communications of the ACM. Cambridge. pp.T. Solutions. Ein-Dor. 7. i8. Illinois. Number12. J. pp. Volume3. December 1981. Jick. Land. W. November 1981." Information and Management. Number 2.. December 1982. Systems Thinking. Massachusetts. December 1984. Objectives." Administrative SciencesQuarterly."in Implementing Operations Research/Management Scince. 2. "TheControl of Information SystemsDevelopments After Implementation. Number4. Harvard Business School. pp. "User ExperienceWith an Assessment Participative Systems of Design. Solutions. S. Solutions. and Lorsch. A. pp. pp. Quasiexperimentation:Designand Analysis Issues for Field Settings.). 29. 19. 1976. November 1983." Decision Sciences. Chicago.D. Solutions. Keen. "Paradigm Developmentin the Social Sci- 384 MISQuarterly/September 1987 . Number August 1982. December 1984. C. 125-142. Solutions.Volume 7. Checkland. 13. pp. Pergamon Press.J.M. B.L.). R. 339-347. 17.H. Gibson.W. Division of Research. 30. Dunnette (ed. S.Objectives. Massachusetts.L. J." Systems. Jr. Hersen. 183-205. Cook. C.Illinois. "Factors Affecting Social Controls: The Reasons and Values--Part I1. Solutions. Ginzberg. "An Investigation of User-Led System Design: Rational and Political Perspectives. 4. Number 2. M. Objectives. and Dutton." MIS Quarterly. 49-63. Slevin (eds." Systems. 33-46. "The Rejection of an Innovation: The Political Environmentof a Computer-BasedModel. Massachusetts. R. Volume4. 69-79. Solutions. 10. "Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: Triangulationin Action. and Robey.. W.E. Volume Number 1. "Successful Implementationof Large-Scale DSS. 631-648. Rand McNally. and Successof MIS.H. 25. K." Systems.A.W." Communications the of ACM." Systems. Kraemer. "A Methodology for ImplementationResearch. 179-201.Chicago. "Implementing Common Systems: OneOrganization’s Experience. 161-178. pp. Number October 1976." Working Paper 9-785-001. King.. "A Prescriptive Modelfor System Implementation. 3." Systems. R. 12. T. Volume4. Harvard Business School Press. 602-611. 1979. NewYork. Boston. Kaplan. Volume1. Objectives. pp. 27.D. Number Novem4. Volume3. Fulk. C. Lawrence. "PerceivedImportance. Kling. Hirschheim. and Campbell. April 1984. the Role of Electronic Meetings. Volume 5." Systems. 14. pp. 1202-1217. Objectives. Systems Practice.P. G. 22. Chandler. Volume 27. and Barlow. Strategy and Structure: Chapters the History of the Ameriin can Industrial Enterprise. Organization and Environment. "Manageror Technician? The Nature of the Information Systems Manager’sJob. Jr. January 1981. 3. and Howe. AmericanElsevier. 24. John Wiley and Sons. P.. and Olson. April 1984.W. 11. pp. Number 4. "The Role of Empirical Research in ManagementAccounting. "The Failure of a DSS EnergyConservation: A for Technical Perspective. 1976." MISQuarterly. 15. Volume4. Number 12. Solutions. 105-118.1985. SingleCaseExperimental Designs: Strategies for Studying Behavior. M. Number 6. 1981. Number November 4.G. pp. and Ives.

71-77. "Information Technology: A New Competitive Weapon. 1966. Susman. pp.D. Management Decision Systems: Computer-Based Support for Decision Making.." MIS Quarterly. Rivard. 27-38. M. 7-23. NewYork.North Holland. Research Methods Organizain tional Behavior. Number 1.S. Number4.L. Number1. 54.). pp. XCON. NewYork. and Flannery.Objectives. "ImplementationPolitics: Top Management Support and User Involvement.E. 35. 36. of Number 10. British Columbia." Communications the of ACM. Campbell. D. Number April 1981. Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive Research in the Social Sciences. S. 32.R. M. Volume Number 1. 44. 46. Fitzgerald. P.R. "Introduction.J. pp. ResearchMethT." Communications of the ACM. Schwartz.pp. Harvard Business School. L. pp.. 3. pp. Volume23. D. Volume 24. Parsons. Beverly Hills. J. 34. 1971. Vancouver. M. Number Fall 1984. "Strategy and Structure: A Tale of TwoInformation Systems Departments. and TheUniversity of British Columbia. Chicago. 6. Rockart. ber 1978. 2.I. California 1982. Robey. 3-14. 1. Stone. Volume Number 7. November 1981. 1. "Information Systems and Organizational Change: A Comparative CaseStudy. 582-603. 2. Foresman and Company. June 1983. 42.J. S. Olson. Boston. R. pp. Sviokla. "Planpower. 1. Division of Research. 3-14. Objectives. Volume Number August1983. March1984. "ComputerInformation Systems and Organization Structure.Volume26. RandMcNally. Number 1. and Evered. Volume3. 430-444. Volume 25. 50. Volume 8."Systems. "Participative SystemsDesign: Structure and Method.L. 5-19. 52. 47.S. 53.. A. 45."MIS Quarterly. 51.. Mann. Robey. F.L. Mumford.L.J. Harvard Business School. Solu- 43. ences: A ProposedResearchStrategy. The Elusive Phenomena. Hirschheim. G. 2. pp. October 1983. 48.H. 776-784. 49. pp.Case Research Strategies 31.J."Administrative Sciences Quarterly. Harvard Business School. J. ties of Quafitative Research." Sloan Management Review." Systems. 1-14. Markus. and Mudman: An In-Depth Analysis into Three Commercial Expert Systems in Use. Massachusetts. M.. January1981. pp. Volume16. pp. Division of Research.Faculty of Commerce Business Administration. VanMaanen. and Wetherbe. D. 679-686. 3." MISQuarterly. 59-69. 39. ing Methodsin Decision Support Systems Research: Exploring the Black Box. 41. "A Contingency Model for User Involvement in DSSDevelopment. and MIS Implementation. and Benbasat. Todd. Volume1. Scott." WorkingPaperNo. To Study Administrations by Cases. G. pp.Volume26. P. ods in Information Systems. Boston. Massachusetts. 11-29. Solutions." Systems. Fall 1983. Number Decem4. pp. Volume Number April 1981. Volume 1.E. and Watson. Solutions.F. January 1986. Morton. tions. Towl. Vogel. 1986. Number June 1983." Systems. E. K." Database.E. 40. Volume 8. pp.Objectives.Objectives. Number 1978. and Wood-Harper. 1985. "User DevelopedApplications: Evaluation of Success From the DPDepartment Perspeqtive. nen (ed. "Power. Pyburn. Boston. "An Assessment the Scientific Merits of Acof tion Research." Academyof Management Review.D." Systems. Massachusetts 1977. October 1981. March 1984.S. Number 10. Politics. "Theoretical Assumptions and ResearchMethodology Selection" in MIS Quarterly~September1987 385 . 1140.G. "The Management End-User Computing. 1969. R. "MIS Research:A Profile of Leading Journalsand Universities.C.R. R. pp.pp. J." in VarieJ. 143-154. Solutions. "ProcessTracI. Mumford.L. Harvard Business School. 33.Canada. 37. Roethlisberger. Solutions.R. and Sechrest." of Communications the ACM." unpublisheddoctoral dissertation.Objectives. 1. 1978. Illinois. Webb. 39-50. L.Illinois. 38. E. Weick. and Huff. Sage Publications. Glenview. VanMaaJ. Boston. "Linking the MISPlan with Corporate Strategy: An Exploratory Study. "User Involvement and Decentralization of the Development Function: A Comparison of Two Case Studies. Markus. Schonberger. 203-215.

Volume Number 8. Professor Mead workedas a consultant for Analysis. 55. Hereceivedhis Ph. Massachusetts. 1984. R. particularly the use of information technology by general managers during times of transition to foster and sustain changes strategic direction.). the management the systems development of function.I. Yin. CaseStudy Research. MelissaMead joined the information systems faculty at the Harvard Business School in 1985. June 1984. "MIS Project Teams:An Investigation of Cognitive Style Implications. Her researchinterests include the incorporation of information technologyas an elementof business strategy.K.Prior to her arrival at at Harvard. 1984. White.D. Research& Computation Inc. Warren McFarlan (ed. Heis currently studying the topic of knowledge acquisition for expert systemsdevelopment.T. David Goldstein is an Assistant Professorof BusinessAdministration at HarvardUniversity. K. Goldstein arrived at the HarvardBusinessSchoolin 1984and has taught control in the MBAprogram and MIS in the MBAand Executive Education programs." MISQuarterly.His research interests are on the impact of information technologyon the effectiveness of managers. F. During the in 1985-86 academic year he was a Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School. Beverly Hills.D. Boston. California. Professor Mead completed a Ph.Information Research Planning The Information Systems ResearchChallenge. in About The Authors Izak Benbasat Professor and Chair of the is MISDivision at the University of British Columbia. 2.D. andthe useof qualitative methods in MISresearch. Her teaching at Harvard includes courses in both control and management information systems. Design and Methods. supported by a grant from the Natural Sciencesand Engineering Council of Canada. 95-101. in Management Science and Information Systems TheUniversity of at Texas Austinin 1985. in MISfrom the University of Minnesota 1974.in addition to knowledgebased systemsand doctoral seminars on research methodsand topics. Harvard Business School Press.B.SagePublications. Science from Sloan School of Management at M. pp. pp. He received his Ph. 111-132. 56. in Management 386 MISQuarterly~September 1987 .