Friday, 16 October 2009

Intrinsic and instrumental case studies

Intrinsic and instrumental interest in cases matters according to what you are researching
  • Intrinsic - because you want to understand this particular case better
  • Instrumental - I examine the case to provide insight into an issue. The issue I'm interested in is engagement in relationships therefore my cases are instrumental. Hence, I can study a number of cases jointly. so I have ..
  • Multiple or collective case studies because I'm investigating the phenomenon of engagement and how it can add value or help to deliver value. "It's instrumental study extended to several cases" says Stake.
"It would be interesting to know the details of what IT system the organisation was implementing"
commented a supervisor on a paper I wrote on a case study. But in reply, I must point out that this is not an intrinsic case study, but an instrumental case, one of a collection of cases to investigate the phenomenon of engagement and as such, whilst it would indeed be interesting to know technical details, that information does not explain the phenomenon and so those details are not relevant. Furthermore, if including such details makes it easier to identify the participating organisation, it is better to leave them out.

STAKE, R. E. (2005) Qualitative case studies. IN DENZIN, N. K. & LINCOLN, Y. S. (Eds.) The Sage handbook of qualitative research. London, Sage Publications.
in DENZIN, N. K. & LINCOLN, Y. S. (Eds.) (2005) The Sage handbook of qualitative research, Thousand Oaks ; London, Sage Publications.

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