Title: A case study strategy as part of an information systems research methodology: a critique

Authors: Z. Irani, J.-N. Ezingeard, R.J. Grieve, P. Race

Addresses: Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK. Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Systems, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK. Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Systems, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK. Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Systems, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK

Abstract: A case study strategy as part of an Information Systems (IS) research methodology embodies a unique style and is one that can employ a variety of research methods. This scientific approach to research appears to be increasing in popularity in the area of IS, and is providing a legitimate alternative to the more traditional lines of enquiry. The authors of this paper identify the underlying purpose of a case study strategy and describe its research objectives. These typically include a strategy for (i) discovery and theory building; (ii) theory testing; and (iii) discovery, theory building and theory testing. The authors then debate the merits of a single versus multiple-case study design. This is followed by a discussion of the positivist and interpretivist epistemological approaches that a case study research strategy can take, drawing case study examples from the published IS literature, thus facilitating in the establishment of the readers epistemological stance. The authors then review the characteristics inherent in quantitative and qualitative research methods, which are summarised in a taxonomy. Finally, the authors conclude by stressing the suitability of a case study strategy when part of an IS research methodology.

Keywords: case study strategy; epistemology; information systems (IS); methodology.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.1999.000203

International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, 1999 Vol.12 No.2/3/4/5, pp.190-198

Available online: 13 Jul 2003 *

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