Case Studies

Case Studies! A case study is a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of one or more specific instances in the context of the actual world.


Case studies in business, for instance, could cover a company’s strategy or a larger market; similarly, case studies in politics might range from a singular political campaign to a massive enterprise. For instance, case studies in medicine may concentrate on a single patient or illness (e.g., a world war).


Case studies can be defined in a variety of ways, but some definitions place particular emphasis on the small number of observations (a small N), the qualitative method, the depth of the research (a thorough examination of a phenomenon and its context), and the naturalism (the study of a “real-life context”).

 Scholars generally concur that a case study need not comprise a single observation (N=1) but can instead include a number of observations, either inside a single case or across several instances. A case study of the French Revolution, for instance, would at the very least include two observations: France before and after the revolution.

According to John Gerring, the N=1 study design is so uncommon in practice that it essentially exists only in myth.

For investigations of several cases, the phrase “cross-case research” is usually used, but “within-case research” is frequently used for a single case study.

Research Designs:

As with other social science methods, no single research design dominates case study research. Case studies can use at least four types of designs:

  • First, there may be a “no theory first” type of case study design, which is closely connected to Kathleen M. Eisenhardt’s methodological work.
  • The contrast between single- and multiple-case studies is highlighted in a second form of study design that adheres to Robert K. Yin’s recommendations and includes several cases.
  • A “social construction of reality” is the subject of a third design, which is exemplified by Robert E. Stake’s work. Ultimately, the goal of a case study’s design may be to find “anomalies”. Michael Burawoy is a notable scholar of this concept.
  • Understanding the occasionally distinctive ontological and epistemological presumptions behind each of these four designs becomes crucial since they may each result in various applications.

Despite the fact that there may be significant methodological discrepancies between the designs, they can nonetheless be utilized in clearly acknowledged combinations with one another.

While case studies can be used to explain specific instances or events, they are frequently used to shed light on the characteristics of a larger population.

Case Selection Strategies:

John Gerring and Jason Sea wright outline seven case selection techniques in an essay from 2015:

  1. Cases that demonstrate a consistent cross-case link are considered typical instances. The study’s focus is on looking inside the case rather than comparing it to other instances since these examples are typical of the greater population of cases.
  2. Cases with variations on the pertinent X and Y variables are referred to as diverse cases. These examples are indicative of the whole population of cases due to the wide range of variance on the pertinent factors.
  3. Extreme examples are those in which the X or Y variable is extreme in comparison to other cases.
  4. Cases that challenge accepted ideas and logic are known as deviations. In addition to having extreme values for X or Y (like extreme examples), they also contradict what is known about causal relationships.
  5. Important cases are those that serve as the foundation for a model or theory (for example, Nazi Germany in theories of fascism and the far-right).
  6. The most comparable examples are those that are comparable on all other independent variables outside the one that interests the researcher.
  7. Cases that differ most on all other independent variables outside the one the researcher is interested in doing so.


  • Case studies have frequently been seen as a useful method for developing ideas and hypotheses. For understanding outliers or aberrant cases, case studies are helpful. Traditional examples of case studies that led to ideas include Darwin’s theory of evolution (derived from his visits to Easter Island) and Douglass North’s theories of economic growth (derived from case studies of early developing states, such as England).
  • Case studies are helpful for developing ideas, which are crucial for building theories. Comparatively to ideas employed in quantitative research, those utilized in qualitative research tend to have a greater level of conceptual validity (due to conceptual stretching: the unintentional comparison of dissimilar cases). Case studies can have more internal validity than quantitative research and provide depth to the description. Case studies are more adapted to explain results in specific situations than quantitative approaches, which are less capable of doing so.
  • Case studies have been praised for their use in evaluating the credibility of theories that explain empirical regularities. Case studies can also be used to explain anomalous or unusual cases.
  • It could be required to do a qualitative study to ascertain if treatment is truly random or not. Hence, effective quantitative observational research frequently includes a qualitative element.

Case studies in education:

A case study that will be utilized in classrooms as “teaching” material may be prepared by teachers. For instance, Christopher Lang dell started utilizing court cases as the starting point for class discussions at Harvard Law School as early as 1870, breaking away from the traditional lecture-and-notes approach to teaching contract law.

By 1920, this method had taken over as the main educational strategy employed by American law schools. Teaching case studies has gained popularity outside of the legal profession in a variety of occupations and subjects, from scientific education to business education.

One of the most well-known creators and uses of teaching case studies has been Harvard Business School. Case studies are created by teachers with specific learning objectives in mind. The case studies are frequently accompanied by additional pertinent evidence, including financial records, timelines, brief biographies, and multimedia add-ons (such as video recordings of interviews).

Similarly to this, using case studies to teach various biological and physical sciences is becoming more and more common in science education. A growing collection of teaching case studies for use in the classroom, for the university as well as secondary school curricula, has been made accessible by the National Center for Case Studies in Teaching Science.

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Rizwan Malik

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