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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 20: Comparative Historical Analysis in International Management Research

Ayse Saka-Helmhout


Ayse Saka-Helmhout INTRODUCTION The way in which cross-national studies on organizational phenomena are carried out tends to overlook complex patterns of interaction (Ragin 1987). Case studies do not lend themselves easily to coping with complexity as their numbers and levels of analyses increase. If there are literally dozens of meaningful dimensions along which case studies are different, and dozens along which they are similar, then how does one determine the causal connections between the multiplicity of causes and the variations in a given outcome? The highly interactive processes that are subject to various contextual influences, such as culture and history, pose a challenge to attaining causality in more than a handful of cases, and, in turn, to comparability and generalizability (Öz 2004). In a similar vein, in the absence of systematic methods, many qualitative researchers consider data analysis an art that is performed by the experienced researcher in a way that is hardly communicable (Miles and Huberman 1984, p. 16). This makes the analysis phase one of the least developed aspects of case study methodology (Yin 2009). Several methods do offer guidelines for organizing data, notably pattern matching, explanation building, time-series analysis and programme-logic models (Yin 2009); data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification (Miles and Huberman 1984); and the search for withingroup similarities coupled with inter-group differences (Eisenhardt 1989). But these address only some aspects of the challenges of systematically analysing findings from a multiple case study. First, they do not adopt a configurational logic, according to...

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