Exploratory case study
Exploratory case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. It is an inductive research process used to gain an in-depth understanding of a complex issue, event, or phenomenon. It is used to generate ideas, identify key issues, and develop hypotheses for further study. It is mainly used to gain an understanding of an unfamiliar phenomenon or situation.
Example of exploratory case study
- A case study of the impact of new technology on the banking industry. The study would explore how new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing are changing how banks do business, as well as how customers interact with their banks. This would involve interviewing stakeholders such as bank managers, customers, and technology experts, as well as examining industry reports and other sources of information.
- A case study of the impact of the gig economy on traditional employment. The study would look at how the gig economy has changed the way people work, how employers are responding to the new way of working, and how the gig economy has impacted the traditional employment relationship. This would involve interviewing employers, gig workers, and labor economists, as well as examining data and other sources of information.
- A case study of the impact of social media on public opinion. The study would explore how social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are influencing public opinion and how people form their views on various issues. This would involve interviewing people with different political views, examining data and other sources of information, and analyzing how the platforms shape public opinion.
When to use exploratory case study
Exploratory case studies are useful when there is a need for a more in-depth understanding of a complex issue, event, or phenomenon. It can be used to develop hypotheses for further study, identify key issues, generate ideas, and gain an understanding of an unfamiliar situation. It is particularly useful in situations where the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clear. They can be used to explore topics such as:
- Exploring an issue or problem from a new perspective
- Examining a particular issue within its real-life context
- Investigating the interplay between multiple factors that affect a certain phenomenon
- Uncovering patterns or trends related to a particular topic
- Examining the effects of an intervention or policy
- Assessing the impact of a certain event
- Studying the causes and effects of a certain phenomenon
- Examining relationships between different groups or concepts
Types of exploratory case study
An exploratory case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. There are several types of exploratory case studies, including:
- Descriptive exploratory case studies: These are studies that are used to describe a phenomenon or situation. They often involve the collection of qualitative and quantitative data to provide a comprehensive overview of the context and the subject of the study.
- Comparative exploratory case studies: These are studies that are used to compare two or more phenomena or situations. They involve the collection of data from multiple contexts and for multiple purposes, and use a variety of analytical techniques to identify similarities and differences between the cases.
- Exploratory-experimental case studies: These are studies that are used to examine a phenomenon or situation through experimentation. They involve the manipulation of variables and the observation of the effects on the subject of the study.
- Exploratory-predictive case studies: These are studies that are used to predict outcomes or trends in a phenomenon or situation. They involve the collection of data, the application of predictive models, and the analysis of the results to identify patterns and trends.
Advantages of exploratory case study
Exploratory case studies have several advantages.
- They allow researchers to gain a better understanding of an unfamiliar phenomenon or situation.
- They provide an opportunity to identify key issues and develop hypotheses for further study.
- They enable researchers to obtain in-depth information about a particular case or situation.
- They allow for the collection of data from multiple sources, such as interviews, surveys, and observations.
- They are more flexible than other forms of research, allowing for the exploration of different angles and perspectives.
- Finally, exploratory case studies can be used to gain insights into complex real-life situations.
Limitations of exploratory case study
Exploratory case studies are powerful tools for investigating a phenomenon or issue, but there are a few limitations to keep in mind. These include:
- Limited scope: Exploratory case studies can provide insight into a specific issue or phenomenon, but due to their limited scope, they may not be able to provide an in-depth understanding of the entire situation.
- Time constraints: Due to the limited scope of the study, it may be difficult to gather enough data within the given timeframe.
- Subjectivity: Exploratory case studies involve subjective interpretation of data, which can lead to biased results.
- Data collection: Data collection can be difficult in exploratory case studies, as there is no set structure or methodology to follow.
- Replication: Exploratory case studies are not easily replicated, as they are designed to explore a specific situation.
In addition to exploratory case study, there are several other approaches related to empirical inquiry that can be used to gain an in-depth understanding of a complex issue, event, or phenomenon.
- Grounded Theory: Grounded theory is an approach to research that uses data from interviews, observations, and other sources to develop a theory about a phenomenon by looking for patterns, themes, and relationships in the data.
- Action Research: Action research is a form of research that is used to gain an understanding of a problem within the context of the real-world and to develop solutions to the problem. It typically involves the stakeholders in the research process.
- Ethnography: Ethnography is an approach to research that focuses on understanding the culture of a group through direct observation and participant-observation.
- Phenomenology: Phenomenology is an approach to research that focuses on understanding the lived experience of a phenomenon through interviews, observations, and other sources.
- Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Qualitative Comparative Analysis is a method of analysis that uses qualitative data to compare similar cases and identify causal relationships.
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- Ogawa, R. T., & Malen, B. (1991). Towards rigor in reviews of multivocal literatures: Applying the exploratory case study method. Review of educational research, 61(3), 265-286.