Methods of analysis: Case studies
Any research designed to create knowledge involves a set of questions needing answers or a category of events needing an explanation, a theory embodying those answers and explanations, and a method for gathering and using data. Each step in the research process poses its challenges. Given the need to bridge idiosyncrasies and to combine depth of Weberian understanding with the breadth of multiple instances, there is much to be said for using a comparative case method to answer questions and provide explanations about negotiations, focusing on the basic question of how negotiated outcomes are obtained? For if one can explain how outcomes have been obtained (the analyst’s question) one can explain how to obtain outcomes (the practitioner’s question). Case studies can be exploratory or conﬁrmatory, providing inductive ideas for generalized explanations or deductive testing of logical constructs. Case studies can show causal links; they shed light on process and allow an exploration of the dynamic path from components to results, thus satisfying the needs of both analysts and practitioners. Comparative case studies lie at the crossroads of theory and practice; they present their evidence through the eyes of a knowledgeable specialist and they test it against the hypothetical
constructs of a creative conceptualist. So the Janus-faced challenge to case study authors is dual and the standards of quality are high.