Case Study: Defining and Differentiating Among Types of Case Studies

Case Study: Defining and Differentiating Among Types of Case Studies

Susanna Tardi (William Paterson University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9429-1.ch001


Case studies have been widely used across a number of disciplines including health, business management, education, law, and in the social sciences. The purpose of this chapter is to define and differentiate types of case studies, discuss the pros and cons of single versus multiple case studies, explore the necessary processes for engaging in this technique, and explain how data is collected and analyzed. A variety of data gathering methods are discussed to identify the challenges to be confronted, and the skills necessary to engage in this methodology. The author identifies how qualitative and quantitative techniques are used in case study analysis. Methods to maximize researcher objectivity, reliability and validity are examined by focusing on data collection, document management, and data analysis.
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Purposes And Types Of Case Studies

Because there are a variety of case studies with differing definitions, the author prefers a very broad definition that covers all types: A case study is a “documented study of a specific real-life situation or imagined scenario either used as a training tool or a vehicle to present analysis and conclusions” (Business Dictionary).

McLeod (2010) identifies a number of ways in which case studies are particularly useful: identification of good versus poor outcomes, highlighting previously neglected issues, exploring the meaning of contradictory findings from a previously conducted large-scale case study, and in practitioner or student training and assessment.

Case studies involve depth as well as breath. In some circumstances, they may be described as complimentary research approaches vis-a-vis other methodologies. In other circumstances, they can withstand the tests of reliability and validity. Case analysis is theory-driven analysis in which one or multiple cases are used to identify factors underlying key issues. A survey of the literature on case studies indicates a clear emphasis on discipline-based practices and procedures. While the case study process is relevant to numerous disciplines, it is nevertheless, developed and explained theoretically within the confines of the discipline of the researcher/s involved.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Case Method: A teaching method using cases that focuses on skill development and team building through debate, presentations, and role playing.

Collaborative Case Studies: Involves researchers from different academic departments, multiple institutions, business units, general industries working jointly to better understand a phenomenon.

Teaching Cases: Those cases in which the goal of instruction is to have students examine how what they are learning is applicable to the real world.

Discourse Analysis: Studying how language assumes meaning and coherence in communication.

Reliability: The extent to which measures or results are replicable.

Reflective Case Study: A researcher explores their own unique situation and past experiences with the phenomenon under study, and identifies alternative approaches.

Content Analysis: Studying recorded human communications including books, newspapers, documents, laws, paintings, and internet postings.

Validity: The extent to which what was intended to be measured is measured.

Thematic Analysis: Identifying and reporting patterns, commonalities across a data set identified as being important to the phenomenon under study and to research questions.

Mixed Methods: Any combination of quantitative and qualitative data sources and techniques

Cumulative Case Study: Using a number of case studies that replicate a phenomenon.

Collective Case Studies: Using a common set of research questions to provide the foundation for studying each individual case.

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