Limitations Of Single Case Study Research

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Most attribute the origins of case study research to studies undertaken in anthropology and social sciences in the early twentieth century when lengthy, detailed ethnographic studies of individuals and cultures were conducted using this design (JOHANSSON, 2003, MERRIAM, 2009; SIMONS, 2009; STEWART, 2014).

Sociologists and anthropologists investigated people's lives, experiences, and how they understood the social and cultural context of their world, with the aim of gaining insight into how individuals interpreted and attributed meaning to their experiences and constructed their worlds (JOHANSSON, 2003; SIMONS, 2009).

At the same time, case study research was often criticized for its inability to support generalizability and thus considered to provide limited validity and value as a research design (JOHANSSON, 2003; MERRIAM, 2009; STEWART, 2014).

This context led to a philosophical division in research approaches: those supporting positivism and quantitative approaches and those aligned with qualitative methods embedded in constructivist and interpretivist paradigms.

The dominance of research using experimental designs continued through the 1960s and 1970s with quantitative empirical results considered to be gold standard evidence.

Case studies continued to be used during this time, however usually as a method within quantitative studies or referred to as descriptive research to study a specific phenomenon (MERRIAM, 2009).By continuing to use this site, you consent to the use of cookies.We use cookies to offer you a better experience, personalize content, tailor advertising, provide social media features, and better understand the use of our services.Contemporary case study research is said to have its origins in qualitative approaches to research in the disciplines of anthropology, history, psychology, and sociology (MERRIAM, 1998; SIMONS, 2009; STEWART, 2014).Historical examples of case study stem as far back as the early nineteenth century with the biography of Charles DARWIN (STEWART, 2014).We begin with an overview of the history and evolution of case study research, followed by a discussion of the methodological and philosophical variations found within case study designs.We end with a summary of the common characteristics of case study research and a table that brings together the fundamental elements that we found common in all case study approaches to research. History and Evolution Case study research as a strategy for methodological exploration, according to FLYVBJERG (2011) "has been around as long as recorded history" (p.302).Change and progress have stemmed from parallel influences from historical approaches to research and individual researcher's preferences, perspectives on, and interpretations of case study research.Central to these variations is the underpinning ontological and epistemological orientations of those involved in the evolution of case study research.Such investigations were conducted in the natural setting of those experiences with results presented descriptively or as a narrative (MERRIAM, 2009).The most notable case studies include THOMAS and ZNANIECKI's (1958 [1918-1920]) study of Polish peasants in Europe and America and, the ethnographic work by MALINOWSKI (1913) in the Trobriand Islands in Melanesia that spanned over several years (CRESWELL, HANSON, PLANO CLARK & MORALES, 2007; JOHANSSON, 2003; STEWART, 2014).

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