THE USE OF CASE STUDY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN AS RESEARCH TOOL
University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research. Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines. Social scientists, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and extension of methods. Researcher Robert K. Yin defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used (Yin, 1984, p. 23).
Critics of the case study method believe that the study of a small number of cases can offer no grounds for establishing reliability or generality of findings. Others feel that the intense exposure to study of the case biases the findings. Some dismiss case study research as useful only as an exploratory tool. Yet researchers continue to use the case study research method with success in carefully planned and crafted studies of real-life situations, issues, and problems. Case study as a research method or strategy has been viewed by most researchers as lacking in rigour and objectivity when compared with other research methods. Though case study does not give you statistics, but it does give you a story to tell and has a better way of painting a picture than other research methods. Case study has often been associated with as a preliminary, exploratory research method with the basis for the development of the more structured tools that are necessary in surveys and experiments. This paper attempts to provide explanation on when to use case study research method, the criteria for the evaluation of case research and the identification of key characteristics that make case study research stand out as research methods. Based on the analysis of sample literatures and journals on information systems, the paper looks at the method of collecting data, the analysis of evidence, steps to be followed in writing case study report and the strengths and weaknesses of case study.
Keywords: Case study, research methodology, qualitative methods and triangulation.