The Case Method in Research

Case study method is one of the methods of investigation. Originally case method was used in medicine. The physician used to maintain a record of treatment and health conditions of each patient. Each such record pertains to a ‘case’. The peculiarities of each ‘case’ are known as well as generalities of all cases together. The cause-effect relationship is established and exceptions there to are also noted down.

The Case Method in Research

The basic unit of case study is a case a particular one of its kind. It may be a single business unit or a whole group of business units in an area or a single producer or a group of producers or a single consumer or a group of consumers and so on. When a group is involved, that group is treated as one unit, with whatever phenomenon found in one group member is taken as a phenomenon of the group as such.

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Characteristics of Case Method

The important characteristics of the case method in research are given below:

  1. Under case study method the researcher can take one single social unit or such units for the study purpose; he may even take a situation to study the same comprehensively.
  2. Here the selected unit is studied intensively i.e., it is studied in minute details. Generally, the study extends over a long period of time to ascertain the natural history of the unit so as to obtain enough information for drawing correct inferences.
  3. In the context of case study method we make complete study of the social unit covering all facets. Through this method we try to understand the complex of factors that are operative within a social unit as an integrated totality.
  4. Under case study method the approach happens to be both qualitative and quantitative. Mere quantitative information  is not collected. Every possible effort is made to collect information concerning all aspects of life. As such, case study depends on perceptions and gives us a clear; insight into life. For instance, under this method we not only study how many new product launches a firm has done but shall peep into the factors that forced it to launch them when we are making a case study of a firm as an innovator. The objective of the study may be to suggest ways to make firms innovative.
  5. In respect of the case study method an effort is made to know the mutual inter-relationship of causal factors.
  6. Under case study method the behavior pattern of the concerning unit, studied directly and not by an indirect and abstract approach.
  7. Case study method results in fruitful hypothesis along with the which may be helpful in testing them, and thus it enables the generalized knowledge to get richer and richer. In its absence, generalized social science may get handicapped.

Case Method Procedure

The process of research through the case study method involves the steps below.

  1. Determine the present status of the phenomenon under investigations through direct observation or measurement. For example, to make a case study of an outstanding business unit, first the investigator has to survey the present status of the business unit.
  2. Determine the most probable antecedents of the case and formulate hypotheses or set of hypotheses. Outstanding business success emanates from commitment to quality and customer focus of great order.
  3. Direct information from documents, diaries of leaders of the unit, records, dreams of leaders, etc. Also direct interview and observation will yield good amount of data.
  4. Verify the hypothesis.
  5. Finally follow up the case again to reiterate earlier findings.
  6. Completeness of data, validity of data, continuity, confidential recording and scientific synthesis are the characteristics of a good study.

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