Oct 22

Summary and Critique of Eisenhardt 1989. “Building Theories From Case Study Research”

Eisenhardt 1989. “Building Theories From Case Study Research”. The Academy Of Management Review; Oct 1989; 14, 4;

This paper makes two contributions: “A roadmap for building theories from case study research” and “positioning theory building from case studies into the larger context of social science research.”

The process Eisenhardt proposes for building theory includes the following steps: 1. Getting Started, 2. Selecting Cases, 3. Crafting Instruments and Protocol, 4. Entering the Field, 5. Analyzing Data, 6. Shaping Hypothesis, 7. Enfolding Literature, 8. Reaching Closure.  These are detailed in Table 1 on page 533.

Eisenhardt states, “Finally and most importantly, theory-building research is begun as close as possible to the ideal of no theory under consideration and no hypotheses to test.”  She proposes overlapping data collection with analysis and changing the data collection as necessary called “flexible data collection.”  She goes on to advocate adding data collection methods during the study to get as much information as possible.  Shaping hypotheses is considered an iterative process with assessing the framework with the data and modifying the framework until the construct matches the data well. This is called sharpening the constructs.  After the construct is created qualitative data are used to understand “why or why not the emergent relationships hold.”  Closure is reached when theoretical saturation is reached through the iterative process.

The paper defines three strengths of this technique of building theory from case studies.

1. The likelihood of generating novel theory.

2. The emergent theory is likely to testable and falsifiable.

3. The theory is likely to empirically valid.

Weaknesses mentioned are:

1. The theory may be overly complex from the tendency to try to capture all the data.

2. The resulting theory may be narrow and idiosyncratic and therefore not generalizable.

Critique:  The article was well written and very understandable.  It provides a opposing view to those that believe that starting from theory and going to experimentation to attempt to falsify the hypotheses is the only way to generate theory.  As an over-simplification, Eisenhardt proposes to go gather data and then use that data to formulate a theory.  The theory generated in this manner should be testable by using the methods used to gather the original data.  One can only imagine the debate this article must have created in 1989.

udah wess….liat versi ppt nya aja lah…(udh di-pdf kan)… 😀


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