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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 10: Case Selection in International Business: Key Issues and Common Misconceptions

Margaret Fletcher and Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki


Margaret Fletcher and Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki INTRODUCTION The case study1 method has frequently been used in international business (IB) research (Piekkari et al. 2009). The widespread adoption of case studies among qualitative IB researchers has been justified on the grounds that they offer in-depth contextual insights by taking into consideration ‘environment characteristics, resource constraints, and cultural traits’ (Thomas 1996, p. 497). In other words, case research allows IB scholars to reach a deeper cross-cultural understanding of investigated phenomena. This minimizes cultural bias and ethnocentric assumptions compared to the practice of using survey instruments. As a result, this method has been used to investigate numerous topics in IB, including the internationalization process of the firm (Johanson and Vahlne 1977), international strategy (Porter 1990), international growth (Penrose 1960), entry modes in international markets such as exporting activities (Ellis and Pecotich 2001), international new ventures (INVs) (Coviello 2006) and multinational corporations (MNCs) (Bartlett and Ghoshal 1987); as well as comparative and cross-cultural phenomena. The process of sampling2 is central to building or testing theory through case research. This is evident in the statement by Hakim (1987, p. 61) that ‘case studies take as their subject one or more selected examples of a social entity’, rendering issues of sampling and sample size inherent to case research. Scholars (for example, Eisenhardt 1989; Dyer and Wilkins 1991; Easton 1995; Siggelkow 2007) argue that case selection is strongly associated with the process of theorizing from case research. Depending on the viewpoint that a researcher espouses (consciously or unconsciously)...

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