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Designing Case Studies

Grupp 2 Jukka Mki-Turja, Johan Andersson, Joel Huselius

Case Studies from Chapter 1

A case study is an empirical inquiry that

Investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not cleraly evident Many more variables of interest than data points Relies of multiple sources of evidence Benefits from prior theoretic propositions, guiding data collection and analysis. In answering how and why questions

When to use a CS?

Outline Research Design

What is a Research Design?


role of Theory

Criteria for high quality research design Single vs. Multiple case design Conclusion and Advice

What is a Research Design

Research Design is a difficult part of doing Case Studies

No roadmaps exists A = initial set of question to be answered B = conclusions of study Logical, not a logistical problem! What question to study? What data are relevant? What data to collect? How to analyze the results? Not a special case of, e.g., experiment.

Logical plan to go from A to B

Research design can be seen as a blueprint of research

Case studies require its own research design

5 Components of Research Design

Questions Propositions Unit of analysis Linking data to propositions Criteria for interpreting the findings

Questions and Propositions

The high level questions of the Case Study. Case studies suitable for how and why questions.

Possible (partial) answers (a.k.a hypotheses) Directs attentions on what to examine in the study More concrete than questions Forces the study in the right direction In exploratory studies - no propositions State purpose instead

Unit of Analysis

What is the case?

An individual? A decision? A program? Without clear propositions, one might be tempted to cover everything. Non-favoring research questions too vague or too numerous

Relates to research questions and proposition

Different units of analysis requires different research design and data collection strategy.

Linking data to propositions

Least well developed Pattern Matching


effects/no effects patterns Which pattern matches best?

effects pattern

no effects pattern


The criteria for Interpreting the findings

How close does a match have do be in order to be considered a match? No general solution Hope that patterns of rival propositions are sufficiently constrasting

Outline Research Design

What is a Research Design? The role of Theory Criteria for high quality Single vs. Multiple case design Conclusion and Advice

The Role of Theory

Covering these 5 aspects force you to begin constructing a preliminary theory. Important to have a theoretical framework providing guidance



Analytical vs. Statistical generalisation Replication

Criteria for high quality

Judging the quality of Research Design Four tests


Validity Internal Validity External Validity Reliability

Construct Validity

Establishing correct operational measures for the concepts being studied Case studies are often criticized that subjective judgement is used collecting data. To meet Construct Validity, e.g.
1. 2.

Select the specific type of changes that are to be studied. Demonstrate that the selected measures of these changes do indeed reflect the specific type of change that have been selected.

Internal Validity
Establishing a causal relationship, whereby certain conditions are shown to lead to other conditions, as distinguished from spurious relationships For explanatory or causal studies only. Inferring theory


x leads to y What happens if unknown z affects y?

External Validity
Establishing the domain to which a studies findings can be generalized Critics state that single cases offer a poor basis for generalization.


generalization rather than statistical logic same as for experiments

Generalization by replication


Demonstrating that the operations of a study can be repeated with the same results The goal of reliability is to minimize the errors and biases in a study.

study protocols to document

General approach: conduct research as if someone were always looking over your shoulder

with accounting

Construct Validity

Multiple sources of evidence Establish chain of evidence Review draft CS report Pattern matching Explanation building Adress rival explanations Use logic models Use theory in single-case studies Use replication logic in multiple case Use case study protocols Develop case study database

Data collection Data collection Composition Data analysis Data analysis Data analysis Data analysis Research design Research design Data collection Data collection

Internal Validity

External Validity Reliability

Case Study Designs

Single vs. Multiple case


case appropriate in certain conditions Multiple case design better in general

Embedded vs. Holistic


= one unit of analysis Emdedded = several units of analysis

Basic types of Designs

Single-case Designs Multiple-case Designs
Context Case Context Case

Holistic (single unit of analysis)

Context Case Context Case

Embedded (multiple units of analysis)

Context Case
U1 U2

Context Case
U1 U2

Embedded Unit of Analysis 1 Embedded Unit of Analysis 2

Context Case
U1 U2

Context Case
U1 U2

Single-case Design

Five rationales
1. 2. 3.


Critical case: clear set of propositions Extreme/unique case Representative/typical case Revelatory case

Previously inaccessible phenomena Same things at different points in time Assumes that conditions changes over time Not considered as a case study of its own

Longitudinal case


As a pilot case for multiple case studies

Embedded vs. Holistic Designs





no logical subunits can be identified. study might be conducted on a too abstract level Research question slippage

slippage Extensive analysis Might focus too much on subunits, loses higher level (holuistic) aspects.

Multiple-case Designs
More robust results and compelling arguments Require more resources Replication rather than sampling logic Each case can be holistic or embedded

Replication vs. Sampling logic

Replication analytical generalization


to that used in multiple experiments Goal is to duplicate results from previous work Convergent evidence is saught

Sampling statistical

to that used in surveys Goal is to gather general information from large amounts of data

Literal vs. Theoretical Replication

Literal replication

Similar results Contrasting results for predictable reasons

Theoretical replication If cases are contradictory initial proposition must be revised

Without redesign, you can be accused of distorting or ignoring the discovery to accommodate your design.

A prerequisite of successful replication is a rich theoretical framework Number of cases is very fuzzy.

Rationale for a multiple case design

Comes from understanding theoretical and literal replication Simplest multiple case design


replication among two cases

More complicated multiple case design


replication between different types of conditions Literal replication within each type of condition

Conclusion and Advice

When you have a choice (and resources) choose multiple case design
cases is significatly better than a single one allows for replication. Drastical improvment of generalizability Theoretical replication even stronger argument Avoids critisism and skepticism

If you use single case


to make an extremly strong argument in justifying your choice of case.