The qualitative case research in international entrepreneurship: a state of the art and analysis

Junzhe Ji (University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki (University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Pavlos Dimitratos (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Shouming Chen (Tongji University, Shanghai, China)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Publication date: 11 February 2019



The purpose of this paper is to examine how qualitative case research (QCR) has been conducted in the field of international entrepreneurship (IE) in terms of onto-epistemology and methodology. QCR can serve as an umbrella approach for contextualizing and capturing the complexity of IE opportunities, events, conditions and relationships, and to illuminate and enrich the understanding of related IE processes.


A thorough literature review was conducted of IE journal articles published between 1989 and mid-2017. This paper identified and analyzed 292 journal articles in terms of theoretical purpose and research design.


The findings suggest that the “positivistic” QCR is the customary convention of QCR in IE. “Exploratory” and “theory building” are the two most commonly pursued objectives. There have also been atypical practices and increased methodological rigor in recent years. Alternative paradigmatic QCRs that depart from positivistic assumptions are in an early stage of development in IE.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first research examining QCR onto-epistemology and methodology approaches in IE, providing a useful state of the art that has been hitherto lacking in the literature. Based on this paper’s findings, the authors suggest that the IE field would benefit from greater methodological transparency in the reporting and writing of QCR. Also, the breadth of knowledge and legitimacy of the IE area would be enhanced through more studies involving unconventional (beyond positivistic) QCR.



Junzhe Ji, Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, Pavlos Dimitratos and Shouming Chen (2019) "The qualitative case research in international entrepreneurship: a state of the art and analysis", International Marketing Review, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 164-187

Download as .RIS





Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.