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Rethinking the Case Study in International Business and Management Research

Edited by Rebecca Piekkari and Catherine Welch

This important and original book critically evaluates case study practices and calls for a more pluralistic future for case research in international business (IB) and international management (IM).
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Chapter 2: The Career of a Case Researcher: An Interview with Christopher Bartlett

Rebecca Piekkari and Catherine Welch


Rebecca Piekkari and Catherine Welch R.P. Why did you decide to take a case-based approach to your PhD rather than a survey? C.B. I used to work for an honest living before I became an academic, so I came as a practitioner. I had worked first in Australia for Alcoa as a product manager. Then, after I got my MBA, I worked for McKinsey for a while and then I ran the French subsidiary of Baxter, the international healthcare company. So I’d been in and seen the practical issues in management, and that’s what really fascinated me and was part of my motivation in coming back and wanting to teach. So coming as a practitioner myself, I really saw practitioners as being a very legitimate and important audience that I wanted to talk to. It also gave me a level of comfort dealing with those problems in their messiness. I guess in going through the doctoral programme, I just found a lot of the survey-based research narrow or remote or shallow and didn’t really capture the world that I knew as a practitioner. The other motivation, as I entered an academic career, was to become a teacher. It seemed to me, particularly having done an MBA at Harvard, that the richness came from bringing case materials into the classroom – where you deal with the messy, unstructured and interesting kinds of problems that managers deal with. Students struggle through the data, turning that into an analysis and generating options and making...

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