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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 14: When Truth is the Daughter of Time: Longitudinal Case Studies in International Business Research

Susanne Blazejewski


Susanne Blazejewski INTRODUCTION Longitudinal case studies are still a ‘minority taste’ (Pettigrew 1995, p. 115) in the social sciences and even more so in the field of international business (IB) research (Piekkari et al. 2009). A quick search in a comprehensive business studies database (EBSCO) reveals only 19 entries over a 10-year period (1998–2008). A volume-by-volume analysis of the Journal of International Business Studies from 2003 to 2007 results in four longitudinal case studies out of a total number of 94 empirical papers. It has been argued that the limited application of the longitudinal case study approach relates to the substantial practical challenges, including publication delays, involved in conducting in-depth research over an extended period of time and across multiple countries (Leonard-Barton 1990; Pettigrew 1995; Pettigrew et al. 2001). In addition, the ‘pressure for quantification’ (Jones and Khanna 2006, p. 454) seems to be particularly strong in IB research, discouraging deeper engagement with historical data or long-term field projects. In my view, the lack of longitudinal approaches in IB is also due to the long-term focus of the field on questions regarding spatial (for example, cross-country comparisons) rather than temporal patterns. According to Mainela and Puhakka (2007), processual research is currently expanding in IB but dynamic models and process-oriented research methodologies are still under-represented. Therefore, the call for longitudinal and historical approaches in IB research has recently become more articulate (Jones and Khanna 2006; Morck and Yeung 2007). Certain ‘truths’ in IB research might be undetectable except from a...

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