Renaissance of case research as a scientific method

Mikko Ketokivi, Thomas Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

346 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since the seminal article by Eisenhardt (1989), scholarly interest in case research has mushroomed in operations management and organization sciences. Volumes of methodological texts are matched with a massive amount of empirical research that seeks to apply and further develop case research as a scientific method. What is missing from this literature is a treatment of the methodological diversity of case research. In this paper, we seek to unveil this heterogeneity by describing three distinct methodological accounts of case study: theory generation, theory testing, and theory elaboration. Each approach has its own idiosyncrasies, in particular when it comes to the interplay between theory and empirics. A typical case research incorporates both existing theories and empirical data to varying degrees. In light of this heterogeneity, we re-interpret key aspects of extant contributions and discuss guidelines for future case research. We propose that ultimately, case research rigor is determined by attention to idiosyncrasy and transparency of reasoning. We conclude by arguing that we have witnessed in the past 25 years in organization research what amounts to the Renaissance of case research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Case research
  • Methodology
  • Reasoning
  • Theory building
  • Theory elaboration
  • Theory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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