A case study, also known under the English term ‘case study,’ is a qualitative research method you can use for your bachelor’s or master’s thesis.
In the case study, you take an empirical approach and examine a case from different angles.
This case can be an organization, a person, a place, or an event and should open up new insights into your research topic.
What is a case study?
In a case study, you focus on analyzing an individual case and linking it to an existing theory that you filter out in your literature research. The aim is to understand the point, to explain it, and to clarify open questions.
Here’s how to do a case study
The case study is one of the more straightforward research methods, but it involves at least as much research as, for example, the surveyor the expert interview.
In the following five steps, which we have already shown you in the example, we explain in detail how you can proceed in your case study:
- Set research goal
- Select case
- Find relevant literature & theory.
- Describe the case
- Analyze case
Define research goal
The first thing to do is formulate your research question so that you know exactly what you want to investigate using the case study.
Since the case study is qualitative research, how or why questions are best for analysis.
Choosing your case should be carefully considered. Because this should be relevant to your research question and not be selected at random.
Suitable: for people, organizations, places, events, or phenomena.
These characteristics make a good case study:
- It is an unusual or atypical example.
- The case provides new or unimagined insights into a problem.
- The case critically questions existing assumptions.
- The case represents new approaches to a problem.
- The fall opens up new directions for future research.
Find relevant literature and theory.
After your research question and the case, you want to investigate have been determined, you now have to connect to the literature.
To do this, you carry out a literature search and choose suitable theories on your topic that you can refer to in your case analysis. You are deductive when comparing your case study with existing literature on your topic.
Describe the case
After you have carried out a literature search, you can describe your case study. You tell your case and explain all the relevant details. If it is an event, it is a good idea to create a timeline of the event.
Provide comprehensive details that make up your case study and stand out from other possible causes in the area of your research question.
Analyze the case
The last part is the analysis of the case. You explain why this example is relevant to your research and how it can answer your research question.
You will investigate what is behind the case and what links you can make to the literature and existing theories you have filtered out during your literature research.
|Type of case study||Possible analysis|
|Event||· When and where did the event take place?
· Why did you choose this event for your case study?
· What circumstances led to the event?
· What were the consequences of the event?
|Person||· Why did you choose this person?
· What experiences has he/she had that you can use for your research?
· How relevant is this person to your research?
|Companies||· Why did you choose this company?
· What values does the company represent?
· What strategies is the company pursuing?
· How did the company deal with a particular event?
|Place||· What are the characteristics of this place, and why are they relevant to your problem?
· Physical, social, cultural, economic, or political characteristics.
|Phenomenon||· Why is this phenomenon relevant to your research question? Why did you choose this one for your case study?
· Detailed analysis of cause and effect.
It is also possible to combine the case study with other scientific methods such as expert interviews or group discussions.
When you combine qualitative and quantitative research, you have a mixed-methods approach. If you want to include several theories, methods, or researchers in your research, you can choose triangulation as the methodology.
Different perspectives will give you additional information and opinions that you can apply to your case study. This way, you can get a more detailed picture of your case.
Benefits of a case study
Using a case study as a method for your thesis has some advantages.
- You have the opportunity to analyze a case from several perspectives.
- The case is related to real life, so your research is realistic.
- A case study is much less organizational than connected to a survey.
- It can uncover previously unknown problems or issues through case studies.
Therefore, the case study is a suitable method for taking a detailed look at a problem or question.