Five misunderstandings about case-study research

Flyvbjerg, Bent (2006) Five misunderstandings about case-study research. In: Seale, Clive, Gobo, Giampietro, Gubrium, Jaber and Silverman, David, (eds.) Qualitative Research Practice. Sage Publications, London, pp. 390-404. ISBN 978-1412934206


This examines five common misunderstandings about case-study research: (a) theoretical knowledge is more valuable than practical knowledge; (b) one cannot generalize from a single case, therefore, the single-case study cannot contribute to scientific development; (c) the case study is most useful for generating hypotheses, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building; (d) the case study contains a bias toward verification; and (e) it is often difficult to summarize specific case studies. This article explains and corrects these misunderstandings one by one and concludes with the Kuhnian insight that a scientific discipline without a large number of thoroughly executed case studies is a discipline without systematic production of exemplars, and a discipline without exemplars is an ineffective one. Social science may be strengthened by the execution of a greater number of good case studies.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Qualitative research; validity; human learning; falsification; hypothesis testing; critical cases
Subject(s): Project management
Operations management
Centre: BT Centre for Major Programme Management
Faculty of Operations Management
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2012 20:35
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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