Processes of a case study
methodology for postgraduate
research in marketing
Processes of a
U n ive rsi ty of Sou the r n Q ueensl a nd, Toowoomba , A ust r a l i a Introduction
C a s e s t u d i e s a re f a m i l i a r t o m a rke t i n g e d u c a t o r s a n d t h e i r s t u d e n t s a s a teaching device. For example, the Harvard Business School’s cases are widely used to allow students to be emotionally involved and le ar n action-related analysis of real, complex situations (Christensen and Hansen, 1987). However, a l t h o u g h c a s e s t u d i e s c a n a l s o b e u s e d a s a re s e a r c h m e t h o d o l o g y ( E a s t o n , 1994a; Parkhe, 1993; Tsoukas, 1989; Yin, 1993, 1994), no jour nal of research case studies or case study methods exists and the most common social science and evaluation rese arch methods textbooks “hardly mention case studies” (Yin, 1993, p. xi). Indeed, one survey of PhD dissertations in six fields concluded that case studies were inappropriate in postg raduate research, that is, one way to rectify the “mindless empiricism” of many doctoral disser tations would be to “simply eliminate … case study dissertations” (Adams and White, 1994, p. 573). This paper reports the Australian development of a successful, str uctured approach to using the case study methodology in postg raduate research. The paper is designed for postg raduate research students in marketing and their supervisors, for its aim is to present and justify guidelines for using the case study research methodology in honours, masters and PhD research theses. That is, only case studies used in postgraduate theses are considered, and not those used fo r other pur poses such as consulting (Yin, 1994), prog ram evaluation (Patton, 1990) or market research.
The paper’s contribution to marketing education derives from its focus on str uctured, postgraduate research processes and from its detailed treatment of prio r theo ry and induction in case study rese arch. Marketing education will b e n e f i t f r o m i t s r i go r o u s p r o c e d u r e s f o r p o s t g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s t o re s e a r c h complex, contemporary topics relevant to their current or future careers, about which little academic research has be en published. Recent examples of these t o p i c s a r e m a r ke t i n g o n t h e I n t e r n e t , b u s i n e s s r e e n g i n e e r i n g a n d c u s t o m e r The writer thanks Len Coote for several ideas throughout this paper, Bina Shah for rese arch assistance and other students for their examples and their assistance in the development of many of the ideas presented here. Remaining er rors are the writer’s. Early versions of the paper were presented at the 1994 National Conference of the Australia and New Ze aland Association fo r Management and the Proce edings of the 1996 Staff Development Prog r am on Postg r aduate Supervision of Non-English Speaking Background Students.
European Journal of Marketing,
Vol. 32 No. 9/10, 1998, pp. 785-802 ,
© MCB University Press, 0309-0566
Jour nal of
service, home banking, marketing of community museums, and organizational accountability of the marketing communications function. In the marketing department of one Australian university in 1995, all five honours and three of t h e f i ve m a s t e r s b y r e s e a r c h s t u d e n t s o p t e d t o u s e t h i s m e t h o d o l o g y ; a l l completed their thesis within no r mal time , inde ed, the master’s theses were finished three to five months before minimum time. Half the examiners passed t h e t h e s e s w i t h o u t re v i s i o n a n d t h e o t h e r e x a m i n e r s ’ rev i s i o n s re q u i r e d l e s s than one day to complete. Refereed and unrefereed conference papers based on many case study theses have been presented at inter national conferences, and most of the students subsequently...
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