College papers help


The advantages and disadvantages of case study research

By Margaret Adolphus What is case study research?

  • Case studies are often seen as a "bolt-on" to a major research project, defining research questions or throwing further light on an issue that has been revealed by a survey;
  • It can be used to expand on a particular theme unearthed by a survey;
  • In other words, the subject of the research is comprehensively studied as an example of a real live phenomenon, within the context in which it happens;
  • Many authors cite Yin, who describes case study research as;
  • It can also be a useful method when the unit of analysis, or the subject under consideration, is a collective entity such as an organization or a community;
  • According to Yin 2006 , case study research is best applied when the research addresses descriptive or explanatory questions:

Case study research, in which the subject of the research is studied within its social, political, organizational, or economic context, is one of the commonest approaches across the social and management sciences. Many authors cite Yin, who describes case study research as: In other words, the subject of the research is comprehensively studied as an example of a real live phenomenon, within the context in which it happens.

Another definition is given by Dul and Hak: How and when is the case study method used?

  • How and when is the case study method used?
  • Disadvantages of the case study as a research method The most common objection to case study research is that it is insufficiently rigorous;
  • Yin 2003 identifies three types of case studies;
  • As such, they are most appropriate for dealing with a subject that is context dependent, complex, unusual, or where there is some ambiguity.

According to Yin 2006case study research is best applied when the research addresses descriptive or explanatory questions: It is also good for describing a situation or phenomenon occurring in the present, where in-depth description is useful and where the researcher does not need to manipulate events. Yin 2003 identifies three types of case studies: It can be used to expand on a particular theme unearthed by a survey.

Only the third of these approaches can stand up as a method in its own right, and not as an ancillary to other quantitative approaches such as surveys or field experiments.

How to... undertake case study research

Advantages of the case study as a research method Case studies are "real" — they offer a chance to get a snapshot of real life: As such, they are most appropriate for dealing with a subject that is context dependent, complex, unusual, or where there is some ambiguity.

In direct contrast to positivist approaches, which seek to generalize, the case study offers particularity: While it offers depth and specificity, case study research also offers breadth and diversity in terms of methods of data collection and analytical techniques.

For example, one case study can incorporate surveys, interviews, direct observation, and archival research. This offers the possibility of several different layers of analysis which can reveal several different perspectives, with the added benefit of triangulation of the results.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Case-Control Studies

According to Woodside 2010, pp. It can also be a useful method when the unit of analysis, or the subject under consideration, is a collective entity such as an organization or a community. Disadvantages of the case study as a research method The most common objection to case study research is that it is insufficiently rigorous.

  • Disadvantages of the case study as a research method The most common objection to case study research is that it is insufficiently rigorous;
  • Case study research, in which the subject of the research is studied within its social, political, organizational, or economic context, is one of the commonest approaches across the social and management sciences;
  • In direct contrast to positivist approaches, which seek to generalize, the case study offers particularity;
  • Advantages of the case study as a research method Case studies are "real" — they offer a chance to get a snapshot of real life;
  • Case study research, in which the subject of the research is studied within its social, political, organizational, or economic context, is one of the commonest approaches across the social and management sciences;
  • It requires considerable skill on the part of the researcher, who needs to be adept at identifying and analysing data from a number of different sources.

Quite often this criticism relates not to the method as such, but to the way case studies are presented: Case studies are often seen as a "bolt-on" to a major research project, defining research questions or throwing further light on an issue that has been revealed by a survey.

That explanatory research can offer an understanding of a phenomenon is viewed with scepticism by some, on the grounds that a single case study cannot yield a sufficient volume of evidence on which to generalize.

What are the skills needed in case study research? Case study research is neither a quick nor a soft option. It requires considerable skill on the part of the researcher, who needs to be adept at identifying and analysing data from a number of different sources. It also requires a skill common to all qualitative researchers: