Why are case studies problematic in building general knowledge in tourism research?

Scientific Essay, 2015
8 Pages, Grade: B


Defining case study

In order to find out a solution of a problem, the scientific researchers use various empirical methods, therefore, the case study is one of those methods. But on the other hand, McLeod revealed clearly that case study is not a method itself. So as a learner if I would like to understand the definition of the case study then as a very realizable explanation I can present here as follows.

“Case studies are basically in-depth investigation of single person, group, event, or community. Typically data are gathered from a variety of sources and by using several different methods (e.g. observations & interviews). The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e. the patient’s personal history).

The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to, or reconstructing ‘the case history’ of a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i.e. the idiographic approach. Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’.” So according to McLeod many other psychological researchers it is a very individual process of finding a solution (Cherry) (McLeod, 2008).

McLeod added more by saying, “The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies such as Qualitative techniques (semi-structured interviews, participant observation, diaries), personal notes (e.g. letters, photographs, notes) or official document (e.g. case notes, clinical notes, appraisal reports). The data collected can be analyzed using different theories (e.g. grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, text interpretation (e.g. thematic coding) etc. All the approaches mentioned here use preconceived categories in the analysis and they are ideographic in their approach, i.e. they focus on the individual case without reference to a comparison group. Case studies are widely used in psychology and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud. He conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses.” (McLeod, 2008).

Moreover, there are several types of case studies as well, which are named as explanatory, exploratory, descriptive, intrinsic, collective and instrumental. Furthermore, the case study methods are named by prospective and retrospective. Sources of information used in any case study are derived from direct observation, interviews, documents, archival records, physical artifacts and participant observation (Cherry).

Strengths of case study

The psychological researches and psychologist as Cherry, McLeod, Hsieh described the strengths of case study. Case study derives elaborate, details, details and rich qualitative information for a research. A case study delivers the insight for further study, it encourages replication, it provides innovative ideas and also it permits to investigate otherwise in impractical / unethical situations etc. (Cherry)

(McLeod, 2008) (Hsieh) (Pearson, 1991) (Bryman, 2007; Homans, 1961)

(Homans, 1961) (Saunders, 2009; Sekaran, 1992).

In the word of McLeod “Case studies give psychological researchers the possibility to investigate cases, which could not possibly be engineered in research laboratories. For example, the Money Case Study. Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas (that might be tested by other methods). They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person's life are related to each other. The method is therefore important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view, for example humanistic psychologists.” (McLeod, 2008).

Again in the word of Sunders, 2009 “ The vision of case studies permit a large number of details to be gathered which could normally hard to obtain. All collected data are generally more efficient and deeper than the data by experimental designs.” Moreover, Sunders explains that “Case studies mean to be manipulated on cases where huge samples of similar participants are absent. Cases of brain damage are quite minimal and it is extremely rare to find people with the exact same parts of the brain affected. In order to be able to gain knowledge of brain functions the damage between people has to be exact to ensure researchers are testing the correct norm; which could particularly be done through case studies. Case studies can assist experimental ideas and produce novel hypotheses which could be utilized for further experiment. Certainly which is highly knowledgeable too.” (Saunders, 2009).

Weaknesses of case study

Once again, from the gathered knowledge of many social scientists and psychologist as like as Cherry, McLeod, Hsieh, Sunders, Pearson, Thomas, Stanovich etc. there are some disadvantages of case studies too. Of-course in a case study for findings of a research, the data collection cannot be redundantly generalized to the huge sample. This is one of the main criticisms. The case studies cannot be always scientific or more unscientific. Any case study could really depend on one person basically, but better to be more general by the several people to manipulate. Then case study could provide effective and attributable findings.


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Why are case studies problematic in building general knowledge in tourism research?
University of Stavanger
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Jobaire Alam (Author), 2015, Why are case studies problematic in building general knowledge in tourism research?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/413351


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