Using case studies for theory testing in business-to-business research: The development of a more rigorous case study methodology

Getting Better at Sensemaking

ISBN: 978-0-76230-633-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-043-2

ISSN: 1069-0964

Publication date: 2 February 2001


Case research has typically been criticized as lacking objectivity and methodological rigor. It has, therefore, taken a back seat to more quantitative methods like survey and experimental methods when conducting business-to-business research. However, many of the issues of importance to business-to-business research take place in a rich and theoretically important context. When a phenomenon of interest takes place within a complex context, case research is often the most appropriate means to pursue investigation. Thus, in order to enhance the legitimacy of case research, a systematic case methodology is developed that addresses the traditional criticisms. Central to this method are three critical aspects. First, all research must begin with theory development. Second, the research design must be logical and systematic. Third, findings must be independently evaluated. By designing research projects around these aspects, case studies can provide marketers with one more tool to investigate business-to-business marketing, its processes, and the complex environment in which it operates. Specifically, case research is thought to be beneficial is studying network systems, international business-to-business marketing, and the industrial new product development processes.


Johnston, W.J., Leach, M.P. and Liu, A.H. (2001), "Using case studies for theory testing in business-to-business research: The development of a more rigorous case study methodology", Woodside, A.G. (Ed.) Getting Better at Sensemaking (Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 215-241.

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