Case Study Methodologies Purpose



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1-19-11

Karen M. O’Neill

34:970:652:01 (index 58172), Spring 2011, Thursdays, 9:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m., CSB-112

Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Seminar in Urban Planning:

Case Study Methodologies

Purpose: Social scientists’ recent work on research methods has yielded creative new approaches to defining problems and analyzing data, pushing us well past sterile debates about the virtues of quantitative and qualitative methods. Understanding what a “case” is turns out to be fundamental to the development of these new approaches. In this course, we will explore and use case study methodologies. Students will develop their own project proposals for a case study.

Focus: We will study methods suitable for designing and writing empirical social scientific case studies of any kind. Readings and lectures pay particular attention, though, to small-N studies and to historical and comparative approaches as a way of exploring the advantages and disadvantages of using case studies in general. Critics and defenders of case studies, of historical approaches, and of the use of comparisons will help us improve our own study designs.

The historical approach in social science may consider past events, but its more fundamental premise is that “it could have been different.” This premise gives a case study dynamism and avoids the trap of making outcomes appear as inevitable.



Comparison is basic to thinking. The comparative approach may involve systematic comparisons of cases. It is also at play even in single-case social science studies, where the author almost always implicitly or explicitly analyzes how the case is similar to or different from other cases in some theoretically meaningful way.

Administration:


koneill@aesop.rutgers.edu

(732) 932-9153, ext. 316

Office hours: After seminar, Thursdays 12:30 p.m., CSB-112

Wed. 2:30-3:30 p.m. and by appt., Cook Ofc. Bldg., # 213 (Cook Campus)


Objectives:


  • Understanding concept formation and the choices one must make in designing a research project, particularly in defining the boundaries of a case (“casing”)

  • Understanding the purposes of case studies, including using small-N studies to examine findings from large-N studies, using case studies to form or test theory, and using case studies to explore new concepts or little-studied social settings

  • Demonstrating the ability to design an interesting and defensible case study

Approach: With the view that studying any methodology should improve your understanding of methods in general, we will ask basic questions about the logic of inquiry in empirical social scientific studies. Writings about case study methods in the past thirty years have consciously returned to basic questions, as part of a broader post-positivistic trend. I approach case studies as a realist and pragmatist seeking to apply systematic methods when appropriate, trying to be aware of the tradeoffs I am making as I design my research.

Seminars: Most class sessions include both analytic readings about methods as well as examples of case studies. The professor will present analytic readings, and students will present readings of exemplar case studies. During their chosen session, each student will make a short presentation that raises methodological issues related to the topic of the day using the analytic readings to inform their presentation. Each student will argue in favor of taking one or another approach, using the exemplar studies to illustrate their points. The student will then lead class discussion for that portion of the class. Student suggestions for exemplar case studies are welcome.

Study proposal: Students will write a description and outline for their own proposed case study, using concepts from the course to justify their choices about the study’s scope, the choice of subject, the research design, and methods used. The proposal should identify one or more study questions, or, potentially, hypotheses. For PhD students in particular, your goal should be to plan a paper that you will submit to a peer-reviewed academic journal. Alternative purposes may be appropriate depending on student needs, but you should discuss these with me. Students will briefly discuss the choices they have made in designing their studies during the last three class meetings (5-10 minutes each). Papers are due on the last day of class.

A separate short memo (1-2 pages) should discuss:



  • how this study proposal emerged (e.g., did it begin with an empirical puzzle, a policy or other applied problem, or was the study subject chosen to address a specific theoretical question?)

  • what you know about the data so far, and how exploring the data further might lead to changes in the study design

  • what other approaches you considered, and why using a case study is appropriate here.

Books to purchase


[All other readings on Sakai website for this course]

Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.) 1992. What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Robert K. Yin. 2009. Case Study Research: Design and Methods Rev. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [older editions are OK]

Lisa Miller. 2008 [2010 pbk.]. The Perils of Federalism: Race, Poverty and the Politics of Crime Control. New York: Oxford University Press.

[NOTE, the paperback is in print but was not yet available through the Rutgers Barnes and Noble bookstore, and so I didn’t order for our class. Order elsewhere online.]

Mary Patillo. 2007. Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City. Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press.

Lee Clarke. 1989/1991. Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Javier Auyero and Débora Alejandra Swistun. 2009. Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown. New York: Oxford University Press.

Elliott Liebow. 1967/2003. Tally's Corner. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Class sessions (readings subject to change):


Week 1, Jan. 20: Exploring case studies

Charles C. Ragin. 1992. “Introduction.” Pp. 1-17 in Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.) What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [“casing,” or setting the boundaries of a case]

Andrew Abbott. 1992. “What do Cases Do?” Pp. 53-82 in Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.), What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

David Byrne. 2009. “Introduction: Case-Based Methods: Why We Need Them; What They Are; How to Do Them.” Pp. 1-10 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.



Example:

Elliott Liebow. 1967/2003. Tally's Corner. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.



Further reading:

Harvey Warren Zorbaugh. 1926/1976. The Gold Coast and the Slum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Chicago School classic]

Herbert Gans. 1967/1982. The Levittowners. NY: Columbia University Press.

Week 2, Jan. 27: Why use case studies?

Students describe ideas for course project

Robert K. Yin. 2009. Ch. 1 in Case Study Research: Design and Methods Rev. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

David Thacher. 2006. “The Normative Case Study” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 111, No. 6 (May):1631-1676.

John Walton, “Making the Theoretical Case,” Ch. 5 in Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.) 1992. What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

K.M. Eisenhardt. 1989. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14(4):532-550.

Ann Chih Lin. 1998. “Bridging Positivist and Interpretivist Approaches to Qualitative

Methods.” Policy Studies Journal 26:162–80. [searching for mechanisms]

Alexander George and Timothy McKeown. 1985. “Case Studies and Theories of

Organizational Decision-Making.” Advances in Information Processing in

Organizations 2:21–58. [searching for mechanisms]

John Gerring. 2004. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good For?” American



Political Science Review 98:341–54.

Examples:

Erik Klinenberg. 1999. “Denaturalizing Disaster: A Social Autopsy of the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave.” Theory and Society 28:239-295.



Further reading:

Alexander George and Andrew Bennett. 2004. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Graham T. Allison and Philip Zelikow. 1971/1999. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis 2nd ed. Longman. [applies rational actor, organizational, and bureaucratic decision models to explain US actions]

Week 3, Feb. 3: What is a case?

Students discuss course projects

Bob Carter and Alison Sealey. “Reflexivity, Realism and the Process of Casing.” Pp. 69-83 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Charles C. Ragin. 2009. “Reflections on Casing and Case-Oriented Research.” Pp. 522-534 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Examples:

Mary Patillo. 2007. Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City. Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press.

Fumitaka Furuoaka. 2007. “Malaysia-Japan Relations Under the Mahathir Administration: Case Studies of the ‘Look East’ Policy.” Asian Survey

Vol. 47, Issue 3, pp. 505–519.

Shadreck Chirikure and Gilbert Pwiti. 2008. “Community Involvement in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management: An Assessment from Case Studies in Southern Africa and Elsewhere.” Current Anthropology 49(3):467-485.

Further reading:

John Horton, with the assistance of Jose Calderon. 1995. The Politics of Diversity: Immigration, Resistance and Change in Monterey Park California. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. [the politics of Chinese and Mexican immigration into suburban Monterey Park, CA]

Sudhir Venkatesh. 2000. American Project. Cambridge: Harvard Univ Press. [surveys, original documents, participant observation]

Mitchell Duneier. 1999. Sidewalk. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.



Week 4, Feb. 10: Research design

Students discuss possible design choices for course projects

John Gerring, Social Science Methodology: A Criterial Framework (Cambridge University Press, 2001), selections.

Robert K. Yin. 2009. Chs. 2-4 in Case Study Research: Design and Methods Rev. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rebecca Jean Emigh. 1997. “The Power of Negative Thinking: The Use of Negative Case Methodology in the Development of Sociological Theory.” Theory and Society 26:649-84. [when to use negative cases to test theory]



Further reading:

Robert E. Stake. 1995. The Art of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [case study of Harper School, used to discuss methodological issues]

John Gerring. 2007. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Week 5, Feb. 17: Coupled case studies--Guest lecturer, Lisa Miller

Discuss paper assignment and student project ideas; catch-up on discussing readings



Example:

Lisa Miller. 2008 [2010 pbk.]. The Perils of Federalism: Race, Poverty and the Politics of Crime Control. New York: Oxford University Press. [coupled studies of the organization of anti-crime activists at multiple levels: Congress, Pennsylvania state, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; investigates the structures that facilitate or impede minority group participation at each level as a question of democratic access in ostensibly open systems]



Week 6, Feb.24: Historical approaches

Students discuss choices about coupled case studies, longitudinal or panel studies, comparative case studies for their course projects

Jack Levy. 2008. “Counterfactuals and Case Studies,” Chapter 27 in, The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady, and David Collier (eds.). Oxford University Press.

Paul Pierson. 2004. Pp. 17-53, “Positive Feedback and Path Dependence” in, Politics in Time : History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. [discusses rational actor, institutionalist, and other approaches to these concepts]

Example:

Joan Marshall. 2009. Tides of Change on Grand Manan Island. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. selections



Further reading:

Edwin Amenta. 2009. “Making the Most of an Historical Case Study: Configuration, Sequence, Casing, and the US Old-Age Pension Movement.” Pp. 351-366 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

David S. Meyer. 1990. A Winter of Discontent: The Nuclear Freeze and American Politics. New York: Praeger. [nuclear freeze movement]

Anthony Brundage. 1997. Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing. 2nd edition. Harlan Davidson.



Week 7, Mar. 7: Comparisons and Multi-case Studies

Jeffrey M. Paige. 1999. "Conjunction, Comparison, and Conditional Theory in

Macrosocial Inquiry." American Journal of Sociology. 105 (November): 781-800.

Arthur L. Stinchcombe. 1978. Ch. 4, “Conclusion” (What Makes Human Actions Analogous?) in, Theoretical Methods in Social History. New York: Academic.

Rebecca Jean Emigh. 1997. “The Power of Negative Thinking: The Use of Negative Case Methodology in the Development of Sociological Theory.” Theory and Society 26:649-84. [discusses the critique of 1980s comparative studies]

Alexander George and Andrew Bennett. 2004. “Comparative Methods: Controlled Comparison and Within Case Analysis,” pp. 151-181 in, Alexander George and Andrew Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.



Examples:

Karen M. O'Neill. 2006. Rivers by Design: State Power and the Origins of U.S. Flood Control. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Selections [a form of “internal” comparison]

William R. Freudenburg and Robert Gramling. 1993. “Socioenvironmental factors and development policy: Understanding opposition and support for offshore oil.” Sociological Forum 8(3):341-364

Further reading:

Randy Hodson. 1999. Analyzing Documentary Accounts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [random sampling of ethnographic studies.]

Paul Lichterman. The Search for Political Community. [using extended case method, student of Burawoy; organizational differences "within" one movement in one site]

Roland W. Scholz, Olaf Tietje. 2002. Embedded Case Study Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [multiple cases, cases with subunits (embedded), multiple methods]



Week 8, Mar. 10: Discovering concepts and processes from a single case—Guest lecturer Lee Clarke

Lee Ruddin. 2006. "You can generalize stupid! Social scientists, Bent Flybvjerg, and case study methodology." Qualitative Inquiry 12,4: 797-812.

Mario Small. 2009. "'How many cases do I need?' On science and the logic of case selection in field-based research." Ethnography 10,1: 5-38. [incorporating quantitative data often not done well in ethnographies; considers generalizability]

Examples:

Lee Clarke. 1989/1991. Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Ge Daoshun and Yang Tuan. 2004. “Minimum Income Schemes for the Unemployed: A Case Study from Dalian, China.” International Social Science Journal. 56 (179):17-36.

SPRING BREAK (no class March 17)



Week 9, Mar. 24: Analyzing your data

Students discuss possible analytic methods for their course projects

Robert K. Yin. 2009. Ch. 5 in Case Study Research: Design and Methods Rev. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Nigel Fielding and Richard Warnes 2009. “Computer-Based Qualitative Methods in Case-Study Research.” Pp. 270-288 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

L. J. Griffin. 1993. Narrative, Event-structure Analysis, and Causal Interpretation in Historical Sociology. American Journal of Sociology 98:1094-1133.

Karen M. O’Neill, Jeff Calia, Caron Chess, Lee Clarke. 2007. “Miscommunication During the Anthrax Attacks: How Events Reveal Organizational Failures.” Human Ecology Review. 14(2):119-129.

Peter Abell. 2001. “Causality and Low-Frequency Complex Events. The Role of Comparative Narratives.” Sociological Methods and Research. 30(1):57-80.

Matthew B. Miles and Michael Huberman. 1994. Pp. 239-242, “Matrix Displays, Some Rules of Thumb,” in, Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd Edition). Sage Publications.

Ray Kent. 2009. “Case-Centred Methods and Quantitative Analysis.” Pp. 184-207 in The SAGE Handbook of Case-Based Methods. David Byrne and Charles C. Ragin (eds.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.



Week 10, Mar. 31: Writing narratives

Students discuss options for writing narratives for their course projects

Robert K. Yin. 2009. Ch. 6 in Case Study Research: Design and Methods Rev. ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Robin Stryker. 1996. “Beyond History Versus Theory: Strategic Narrative and Sociological Explanation.” Sociological Methods and Research. 24:304-352.

Seymour Mandelbaum. 1991. "Telling stories." Journal of Planning Education and Research 10,3: 209-214.



Further reading:

Clifford Geertz. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. NY: Basic Books. [on the method of 'deep description']

Matthew B. Miles and Michael Huberman. 1994. Ch. 12, “Producing Reports” in Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd Edition). Sage Publications.

Charles Tilly. 2002. “The Trouble With Stories.” Pp. 25-42 in Stories, Identities and Political Change. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

James Throgmorton. 1992. "Planning as persuasive storytelling about the future: negotiating an electric power rate settlement in Illinois." Journal of Planning Education and Research 12,1: 17-31.

Week 11, Apr. 7: Explanations—Guest lecturer, A. P. Vayda

L. J. Griffin. 1993. Narrative, Event-structure Analysis, and Causal Interpretation in Historical Sociology. American Journal of Sociology 98:1094-1133.

Peter Abell. 2001. “Causality and Low-Frequency Complex Events. The Role of Comparative Narratives.” Sociological Methods and Research. 30(1):57-80.

Example:

Andrew P. Vayda. 2006. “Causal Explanation of Indonesian Forest Fires: Concepts, Applications, and Research Priorities,” Human Ecology, Vol. 34, No. 5, pp. 615-635.



Week 12, Apr. 14: Critics and defenders

Student proposal presentations

Michael Burawoy. 1998. “The Extended Case Method.” Sociological Theory, 16,1:4-33.

Stanley Lieberson. 1992 “Small N's and Big Conclusions: An Examination of the Reasoning in Comparative Studies Based on a Small Number of Cases.” Ch. 4 in Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.), What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barbara Geddes. 1990. “How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics.” Political Analysis. 2:131-150.

David Collier and James Mahoney. 1996. “Insights and Pitfalls: Selection Bias in Qualitative Research.” World Politics. 49(1):56-91.

Mary Timney Bailey. 1992. “Do Physicists Use Case Studies? Thoughts on Public Administration Research.” Public Administration Review. 52:47-55. [defends case study]

Kristin Shrader-Frechette and Earl D. Mccoy. 1994. “Applied Ecology and the Logic of Case Studies.” Philosophy of Science, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 228-249 [for this session, read pp. 239-245]. [defends]

Week 13, Apr. 21: Site-specific studies and critiques of equating “the case” with “the local”

Student proposal presentations

Robert Beauregard. 1988. "In the absence of practice: The locality research debate." Antipode 20: 52-59.

Helga Leitner and Mark Garner. 1993. "The limits of local initiatives." Urban Geography 14: 57-77.

Mark Purcell and Christopher Brown. 2005. "Against the local trap: scale and the study of environment and development." Progress in Development Studies 5,4: 279-297.

Neil Smith. 1987. "Dangers of the empirical turn." Antipode 19: 59-68.

Example:

Javier Auyero and Débora Alejandra Swistun. 2009. Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown. New York: Oxford University Press.



Further reading:

Kenneth Olwig. 1984. Nature's Ideological Landscape. London: George Allen & Unwin. [history of human use of Denmark’s Jutland Heath]

Steven Gregory. 1998. Black Corona. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [black community engagement in Queens]

Mary Patillo McCoy. 1999. Black Picket Fences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [black middle-class neighborhood in Chicago]



Week 14, Apr. 28: A brief view across the disciplines

Papers due

Student proposal presentations

Khairul Baharein Mohd Noor. 2008. Case Study: A Strategic Research Methodology.” American Journal of Applied Sciences, Nov., 2008. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7109/is_11_5/ai_n28551353/

Kristin Shrader-Frechette and Earl D. Mccoy. 1994. “Applied Ecology and the Logic of Case Studies.” Philosophy of Science, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 228-249.

Examples:

Stephen A. Greyser. 1992. “Johnson & Johnson: The Tylenol Tragedy.” Harvard Business School Case Study 9-583-043 (Rev. 5/26/1992).

2010. “Harvard Business School Faculty on Toyota Recall.” (2/16/10), http://www.hbs.edu/news/releases/facultyontoyota.html

2010. “Lean Manufacturing and the Environment: Case Studies and Best Practices” USEPA, http://www.epa.gov/lean/studies/index.htm

B. W. van Wilgen et al. 2004. Costs and Benefits of Biological Control of Invasive Alien Plants: Case Studies From South Africa. South African Journal of Science. 100, Jan/Feb.:113-122.

Further readings:

Roland W. Scholz, Olaf Tietje. 2002. Embedded Case Study Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [examples in neuropsychology, education, law, business, environmental science;

William Naumes and Margaret J. Naumes. 1999. The Art and Craft of Case Writing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [management and decision sciences]

Terrel R. Rhodes. 2002. The Public Manager Case Book. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. [Examples of case studies]





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