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Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research

Bent Flyvbjerg

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Abstract: This article examines five common misunderstandings about case-study research: (1) Theoretical knowledge is more valuable than practical knowledge; (2) One cannot generalize from a single case, therefore the single case study cannot contribute to scientific development; (3) The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses, while other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building; (4) The case study contains a bias toward verification; and (5) It is often difficult to summarize specific case studies. The article explains and corrects these misunderstandings one by one and concludes with the Kuhnian insight that a scientific discipline without a large number of thoroughly executed case studies is a discipline without systematic production of exemplars, and that a discipline without exemplars is an ineffective one. Social science may be strengthened by the execution of more good case studies.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cwa, nep-mkt and nep-pke
Date: 2013-04
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Published in Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, April 2006, 219-245

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