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The theoretical contribution of case study research to the field of strategy and management

Research Methodology in Strategy and Management

ISBN: 978-1-84855-158-9, eISBN: 978-1-84855-159-6

ISSN: 1479-8387

Publication date: 10 June 2009

Abstract

Purpose: Case studies are detailed empirical investigations into a complex entity that emphasize the uniqueness of the case and are valuable for making a theoretical contribution. We aim to reveal the types of theoretical contributions case study research can make to the field of strategy and management and explore how case study design can create the opportunities for making a theoretical contribution.

Methodology/Approach: The dynamic capability approach focuses on the firm-specific processes through which firms integrate, build, or reconfigure resources. A comprehensive review of case studies in this field is conducted in five search engines, resulting in a data set of 13 in-depth case studies.

Findings: We demonstrate that using case studies to extend and refine theory enhances knowledge in the field of dynamic capabilities. In strategy and management research, case studies identify and refine constructs and their relationships, develop and confirm propositions, and embed constructs within a larger set of relationships. We reveal that sampling strategy, research setting, and multiple lenses are aspects of case study design that create opportunities for making a theoretical contribution.

Practical Implications: We suggest that case study researchers strategically and purposefully sample cases, vary the setting conditions, or draw upon numerous research fields to make a theoretical contribution.

Originality/Value of Paper: Going beyond the current discussion, we show that case studies have the potential to extend and refine theory. We shed new light on how dynamic capabilities can benefit from case study research by discovering the antecedents that shape the development of capabilities and determining the boundary conditions of the dynamic capabilities approach.

Citation

Ridder, H.-G., Hoon, C. and McCandless, A. (2009), "The theoretical contribution of case study research to the field of strategy and management", Bergh, D.D. and Ketchen, D.J. (Ed.) Research Methodology in Strategy and Management (Research Methodology in Strategy and Management, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 137-175. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-8387(2009)0000005007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited