American Journal of Applied Sciences 5 (11): 1602-1604, 2008 ISSN 1546-9239 © 2008 Science Publications
Case Study: A Strategic Research Methodology
Khairul Baharein Mohd Noor Universiti Industri Selangor, 40000, Shah Alam, Malaysia Abstract: This research reviews the literature on case study as a strategic qualitative research methodology. Although case studies have been criticised by some authors as lacking scientific rigour and do not address generalizability, this research, however, reiterated its appropriateness when dealing with a process or a complex real-life activities in great-depth. Case study has been commonly used in social science fields like sociology, industrial relations and anthropology eventhough generally was considered an underutilized strategy. Hence, this research explained the general concept of a case study, strengths and weaknesses of using this method knowing that theoretically case is exciting and data rich. Based on a study of four organizations and the researcher’s own experience, this article described matters on how case study was undertaken, gaining excess to those organizations and the systematic process of data collection and triangulation (multiple techniques). It was noted that combining multiple techniques for elicitng data in case study research actually strengthens and confirmed results. Key words: Case study, research methodology, qualitative research, triangulation THE CHOICE OF RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The choice of which method to employ is dependent upon the nature of the research problem, Morgan and Smircich (1980) argue that the actual suitability of a research method, derives from the nature of the social phenomena to be explored. There are basically two basic methodological traditions of research in social science, namely positivism and postpositivism (phenomenology). Positivism is an approach to the creation of knowledge through research which emphasizes the model of natural science: the scientist adopts the position of objective researcher, who collects facts about the social world and then builds up an explanation of social life by arranging such facts in a chain of causality. In contrast, post-positivism is about a reality which is socially constructed rather than objectively determined. Hence the task of social scientist should not be to gather facts and measure how often certain patterns occur, but to appreciate the different constructions and meanings that people place upon their experience. Positivism, thus, which is based on the natural science model of dealing with facts, is more closely associated with quantitative method of analysis. On the other hand, post-positivism that deals with understanding the subjectivity of social phenomena, requires a qualitative approach. In explaining qualitative research, Denzin and Lincoln state that, qualitative implies an emphasis on processes and meanings that are not rigorously examined, measured (if measured at all), in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. Thus, there are instances, particularly in the social sciences, where researchers are interested in insight, discovery, and interpretation rather than hypothesis testing. CASE STUDY AS A STRATEGIC METHODOLOGY In explaining what a case is, Yin suggests that the term refers to an event, an entity, an individual or even a unit of analysis. It is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence. Anderson sees case studies as being concerned with how and why things happen, allowing the investigation of contextual realities and the differences between what was planned and what actually occurred. Case study is not intended as a study of the entire organization. Rather is intended to focus on a particular issue, feature or unit of analysis. In order to understand and examine the processes of training activities in organizations, case study method was chosen. This method...
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