Case study as research strategy: Pointers to resources

Case study is a central research strategy in information systems and related fields. Case studies improve our understanding of different phenomena such as the introduction of new technologies in organizations, service innovation, understanding how technology is used etc. In this page I try to collect some useful readings about using case study in technology-related empirical research.

A note to students: Case study is a challenging and complex research design. You should discuss with your supervisor before setting out to do a case study. You can start by reading some of the articles listed below.

  • For an introduction to case studies as a research strategy in information systems you should read Chapter 10 in the excellent “Researching Information Systems and Computing“. This chapter defines a case study, discusses its strengths and challenges, and has useful tips for planning and conducting a case study.
  • Case study originates from social and organizational sciences. The case study “bible” is the book by Yin, called “Case Study Research: Design and Methods“. The book gives a comprehensive introduction to the method. It can be used as a reference book. Note that the book is debated because some people claim it focuses too much on a positivist approach to case studies.
  • The article “The Case Research Strategy in Studies of Information Systems” by Benbasat et al. is a good short introduction to the method with examples from the information systems field. The article defines case study, provides a set of characteristics for case studies, discusses when to use and not to use case studies, and discusses some examples. The discussion of examples can be a bit tedious if you have not read the original articles where the examples are drawn from.
  • The article “Successfully completing case study research: combining rigour, relevance and pragmatism” is a well-cited introduction article to using case studies in information systems. It discusses some of the challenges of conducting case studies in organizations.
  • The classic article by Walsham, “Interpretive case studies in IS research: nature and method“, has a good discussion on the different paradigmatic approaches to case studies in IS, both positivist and interpretative. A must read if you are serious about case studies.

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