Construction case analysis essays
A popular template for building theory from case studies is a paper by Eisenhardt It follows a dramaturgy with a precise order of single steps for constructing a case study and is one of the most cited papers in methods sections Ravenswood This is impressive for two reasons.
On the one hand, Eisenhardt herself has provided a broader spectrum of case study research designs in her own empirical papers, for example, by combining theory-building and theory elaboration Bingham and Eisenhardt These developments do not seem to be seriously considered by most authors, as differences and elaborations of this spectrum are rarely found in publications. Therefore, in the following, I focus on the standards provided by Eisenhardt and Eisenhardt and Graebner as exemplary guidelines. The research question may stem from a research gap meaning that the research question is of relevance.
Cases are chosen for theoretical reasons: for the likelihood that the cases offer insights into the phenomenon of interest. Theoretical sampling is deemed appropriate for illuminating and extending constructs and identifying relationships for the phenomenon under investigation Eisenhardt and Graebner Cases are sampled if they provide an unusual phenomenon, replicate findings from other cases, use contrary replication, and eliminate alternative explanations. With respect to data collection, qualitative data are the primary choice.
Data collection is based on triangulation, where interviews, documents, and observations are often combined.
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A combination of qualitative data and quantitative data is possible as well Eisenhardt : Data analysis is conducted via the search for within-case patterns and cross-case patterns. Systematic procedures are conducted to compare the emerging constructs and relationships with the data, eventually leading to new theory. A good exemplar for this design is the investigation of technology collaborations Davis and Eisenhardt The purpose of this paper is to understand processes by which technology collaborations support innovations.
Eight technology collaborations among ten firms were sampled for theoretical reasons. Qualitative and quantitative data were used from semi-structured interviews, public and private data, materials provided by informants, corporate intranets, and business publications. The data was measured, coded, and triangulated. Writing case histories was a basis for within-case and cross-case analysis. Iteration between cases and emerging theory and considering the relevant literature provided the basis for the development of a theoretical framework.
Another example is the investigation of what is learned in organizational processes Bingham and Eisenhardt This paper demonstrates that the case study design is not only used for theory-building, but can also be combined with theory elaboration. Based on the lenses of the organizational knowledge literature, organizational routines literature, and heuristics literature, six technology-based ventures were chosen for theoretical reasons.
Several data sources were used, especially quantitative and qualitative data from semi-structured interviews, archival data, observations, e-mails, phone calls, and follow-up interviews. Within-case analysis revealed what each firm has learned from process experience. Cross-case analysis revealed emerging patterns from which tentative constructs and propositions were formed. In replication logic constructs and propositions were refined across the cases. When mirroring the findings with the literature, both the emergences of the constructs were compared and unexpected types were considered.
The iteration of theory and data as well as the consideration of related research sharpened the theoretical arguments, eventually leading to a theoretical framework. A well-known template for this case study research design is the book by Yin It is a method-orientated handbook of how to design single and multiple case studies with regard to this purpose.
Research questions can be identified and shaped using literature to narrow the interest in a specific topic, looking for key studies and identifying questions in these studies. In addition, propositions or frameworks provide direction, reflect the theoretical perspective, and guide the search for relevant evidence. There are different rationales for choosing a single case design Yin : Purposeful sampling is conducted if an extreme case or an unusual case is chosen and if rarely observable phenomena can be investigated with regard to unknown matters and their relationships.
Common cases allow conclusions for a broader class of cases. Revelatory cases provide the opportunity to investigate into a previously inaccessible inquiry, and the longitudinal study enables one to investigate a single case at several points in time. A rationale for multiple case designs has its strength in replication logic Yin : In the case of literal replication, cases are selected to predict similar results. In the case of theoretical replication, cases are selected to predict contrasting results but for theoretical reasons.
Yin provides several tactics to increase the reliability protocol; data base of the study. Yin : emphasizes that interviews are one of the most important sources of data collection but considers other sources of qualitative data as well.
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Data triangulation is designed to narrow problems of construct validity, as multiple sources of data provide multiple measures of the same phenomenon. Yin : offers a number of data analysis strategies e. Pattern-matching logic compares empirically based patterns with predicted patterns, enabling further data analysis techniques explanation building, time series analysis, logic models, and cross-case synthesis. In analytical generalization, the theory is compared with the empirical results, leading to the modification or extension of the theory. An appropriate model for this case study design can be identified in a paper by Ellonen et al.
The paper is based on the emerging dynamic capability theory. The four cases were chosen for theoretical reasons to deliver an empirical contribution to the dynamic capability theory by investigating the relationship of dynamic capabilities and innovation outcomes. The authors followed a literal replication strategy and identified patterns between dynamic capabilities of the firms and their innovation outcomes.
Shane is an author who developed specific propositions from a framework and examined the propositions in eight entrepreneurial cases. Using several sources of interviews and archival data, the author compared the data with the propositions using the pattern-matching logic, which concluded in developing entrepreneurship theory.
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So far, the outlined case study research designs are based on positivist roots, but there is richness and variety in case study research stemming from different philosophical realms. The case study research design by Stake , , , for example, is based on constructivist assumptions and aims to investigate the social construction of reality and meaning Schwandt : The world is a product of socially and historically related interchanges amongst people social construction. Contrarily, the constructivist is researching into specific actions, in specific places, at specific times.
The scientist tries to understand the construction and the sharing of meaning Schwandt According to Stake , the direction of the case study is shaped by the interest in the case.
In an intrinsic case study, the case itself is of interest. The purpose is not theory-building but curiosity in the case itself. In an instrumental case study, the case itself is of secondary interest. It plays a supportive role, as it facilitates the understanding of a research issue. The case can be typical of other cases. Multiple or collective case study research designs extend the instrumental case study.
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It is assumed that a number of cases will increase the understanding and support theorizing by comparison of the cases. The differentiation by Stake , into intrinsic and instrumental cases guides the purposive sampling strategy. In intrinsic case studies, the case is, by definition, already selected. The researcher looks for specific characteristics, aiming for thick descriptions with the opportunity to learn. Representativeness or generalization is not considered. In instrumental case study design, purposive sampling leads to the phenomenon under investigation. In multiple case study designs, the ability to compare cases enhances the opportunity to theorize.
A case study requires an integrated, holistic comprehension of the case complexity. According to Stake , the case study is constructed by qualitative data, such as observations, interviews, and documents. Triangulation first serves as clarification of meaning. Second, the researcher is interested in the diversity of perceptions. Two methods of data analysis are considered in such qualitative case study design: direct interpretation and categorical aggregation Stake : The primary task of an intrinsic case study is to understand the case.
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This interpretation is offered to the reader, but the researcher has to provide the material in a sufficient way thick descriptions , so that the reader can learn from the case as well as draw his or her own conclusions. In instrumental case studies, the understanding of phenomena and relationships leads to categorical aggregation, and the focus is on how the phenomenon exists across several cases.
Greenwood and Suddaby , for example, used the instrumental case study design by Stake, combining network location theory and dialectical theory. They identified new dynamics creating a process model of elite institutional entrepreneurship. Ituma et al. The majority of career studies have been conducted in Western countries and findings have been acknowledged as universally applicable. The authors demonstrated that realities of managers in other areas are constructed differently. As a result of their study, they provided a contextually sensitive frame for the analysis of career outcomes.
Identifying anomalies as a basis for further research is common in management and organization research Gilbert and Christensen In case study research, the extended case study method is used for this case study research design Ridder Following Burawoy , , , the research question derives from curiosity. Initially, it is not important whether the expectations develop from some popular belief, stereotype, or from an academic theory. The extended case study research design is guided by anomalies that the previous theory was not able to explain through internal contradictions of theory, theoretical gaps, or silences.
An anomaly does not reject theory, but rather demonstrates that the theory is incomplete. The theoretical sampling strategy in this case study research design stems from the theoretical failure in confrontation with the site. According to the reflexive design, such cases do not favour individuals or isolated phenomena, but social situations in which a comparative strategy allows the tracing of differences across the cases to external forces. In the extended case study, the researcher deals with qualitative data, but also considers the broader complex social situation.
The researcher engages into a dialogue with the respondents Burawoy , , An interview is an intervention into the life of a respondent. By means of mutual interaction it is possible to discover the social order under investigation. The observer has to unpack those situational experiences by means of participant observation and mutual interpretation. As in other sciences, these voices have to be aggregated. Social processes are now traced to the external field as the conditions of the social processes.
Such social fields cannot be held constant, which undermines the idea of replication. The external field is in continuous flux. Accordingly, social forces that influence the social processes are identified, shaping the phenomenon under investigation.
Extension of theory does not target representativeness as a relationship of sample and population. Instead of discovering grounded theory, we elaborate existing theory.