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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 11: Case Selection Informed by Theory

Trevor Buck


Trevor Buck INTRODUCTION ● ● ● A recently graduated MBA with business experience wished to progress to a PhD. The student wanted to base her thesis on the firm ABC Inc., with which she has excellent contacts. Having chosen the case study method, another PhD student proceeded quickly to the data collection stage of the work, encouraged to make vital field contacts as quickly as possible. A young researcher planned to conduct a postal questionnaire survey of over 500 firms. If fewer than 100 usable responses were obtained, she would resort to a case study methodology. These three situations, or rather predicaments, perhaps illustrate why the case study methodology is not accepted more widely in the international business (IB) literature: cases are often based on ‘convenience’ samples, case selection may be hurried or careless, or case studies may be a methodology of last resort. However, while faulty case analysis and interpretation may be remedied, if case study selection is flawed, there is little that can be done to rescue the situation: if the examiners for a PhD thesis, or journal reviewers, challenge case selection fundamentally, this probably means scrapping the whole project and starting again. Careless case study selection may in the past have contributed to the devaluation of the methodology as a valuable part of the battery of techniques available to IB researchers. It can be seen, therefore, that case study selection is the most crucial stage of the chosen methodology, but it is not intended that this chapter be yet another...

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