Case studies as a research method

Yin [2008].
Case study research.
Definition.
A case study is an empirical inquiry that:

1) Investigates a *contemporary phenomenon* in depth and within its real-life context, especially when:

2) The *boundaries* between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.

Yin [2008].
Case study research.
Features.
Case study is an all-encompassing method that includes logic of design, data collection techniques, and specific approaches to data analysis. Theory development is essential to the design phase of good case studies.
Yin [2008].
Case study research.
Types of case studies.
Single, multiple-case.
Case studies can also be part of a larger mixed-method study.
Yin [2008].
Case study research.
Four applications for evaluation research.
1) Explain causal links.
2) Describe an intervention and its real-life context.
3) Illustrate certain topics within an evaluation.
4) Enlighten situations in which the intervention has no clear, single set of outcomes.
Yin [2008].
Case study research.
Five components of case study research design.
1. A study’s questions.
2. Its propositions, if any.
3. Its units of analysis.
4. The logic linking the data to the proposition.
5. The criteria for interpreting the findings.
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Creswell [2013].
Three types of case studies.
1. *Intrinsic*. Has unique or unusual interest in and of itself.

2. *Instrumental*. Focuses on an issue of concern, and then a bounded case is used to illustrate this issue.

3. *Collective*. Multiple cases illustrate an issue.

Creswell [2013].
Challenges with case studies.
Case selection requires skill.
Defining boundaries is difficult.
Yin [2008].
Construct validity in case studies.
1. Use multiple sources of evidence.
2. Establish chain of evidence.
3. Have key informants review draft report.
Yin [2008].
Internal validity in case studies.
1. Do pattern matching.
2. Do explanation building.
3. Address rival explanations.
4. Use logic models.
Yin [2008].
External validity in case studies.
1. Use theory in single-case studies.
2. Use replication logic in multiple-case studies.
Yin [2008].
Reliability in case studies.
1. Use case study protocol.
2. Develop case study database.
Yin [2008].
When case studies are a good fit.
1. When *how and why* questions are to be answered.
2. When the focus is on a *current phenomenon* in a *real-life context.*
Yin [2008].
Generalizability.
Case studies are generalizable to theoretical propositions.
Yin [2008].
Sources of evidence [6].
Documentation.
Archival records.
Interviews.
Direct observations.
Participant-observation.
Physical artifacts.
Sullivan [2010].
Five components for case studies.
1. Opening para with an overview of the situation.
2. Description of the institutional setting.
3. Narrative. [C&J prefer exposition.]
4. Close with an analysis of the dilemma and any lessons learned.
5. Conclude with a set of questions to guide discussion.
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