Case Studies: Definition, Examples, Types, and How to Write a Case Study


What are case studies?

Case studies are a comprehensive and detailed investigation of a specific case, which enables the researcher to gather a wide range of data and information, including qualitative and quantitative data.

A case study is a research methodology investigating a real-life situation or event that can provide significant insights into a particular phenomenon. It is a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a particular case that can be conducted using various data collection techniques, such as interviews, observations, and document analysis. The case study approach is widely used in social sciences, business, education, and other disciplines to investigate real-life situations and events.

What is an example of a case study?

One example of the application of the Case Study is the Tylenol poisoning incident. In 1982, Tylenol capsules were contaminated with cyanide, leading to seven deaths in Chicago. The case study investigated how the company handled the crisis, the media and public response, and the impact on the company’s reputation and sales. The study revealed that Johnson & Johnson’s prompt response and transparent communication with the public and the media were critical in managing the crisis and protecting the company’s reputation.

What are the 6 types of case studies?

There are six main types of case studies:

  1. Exploratory case study: These preliminary investigations aim to explore a new area of research and identify new research questions.
  2. Descriptive case study: These studies aim to provide a detailed description of a particular case and its characteristics.
  3. Explanatory case studies aim to explain why a particular event or phenomenon occurred. They do this by identifying and analyzing the underlying causes and factors.
  4. Instrumental case studies aim to test a particular theory or concept using a specific case.
  5. Collective case studies involve investigating multiple cases to understand a particular phenomenon better.
  6. Intrinsic case study. These studies focus on the unique characteristics of a specific case and aim to understand it in its own right.

Why is it called a case study?

The term “case study” was first used by Frederic Le Play, a French sociologist, in the 19th century. Le Play used the term to describe his method of investigating social phenomena by observing and recording the daily lives of families in different social classes. The term “case” refers to a particular instance of a phenomenon or event, and “study” refers to the systematic investigation and analysis of that instance.

What is a case study example and purpose?

One example of a case study is the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The case study investigated the causes of the disaster, the response of BP and other stakeholders, and the impact on the environment, economy, and society. The study aimed to identify the lessons learned from the disaster and develop recommendations for improving the safety and sustainability of the oil and gas industry.

The purpose of a case study is to gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon, situation, or event. It allows researchers to investigate complex and multifaceted issues in real-life settings. They then collect various data and information and develop insights that inform theory, policy, and practice. Case studies can also help to identify best practices and lessons learned. Further, they test and refine existing theories and concepts, and generate new research questions and hypotheses.

What are the five types of case studies?

There are five main types of case studies:

  1. Historical case studies. These studies use historical records, documents, and artifacts to focus on past events or situations. They analyze and interpret them. They provide valuable insights into the factors that shaped past events and how they can inform current and future decision-making.
  2. Comparative case studies involve comparing two or more cases to identify similarities and differences in their characteristics, contexts, and outcomes. This help researchers to identify patterns and trends, develop hypotheses and theories, and to generalize findings across cases.
  3. Prospective or Longitudinal case studies: These involve observing and analysing a particular case over an extended period, often several years or even decades. They provide valuable insights into the dynamics of change and the evolution of processes and relationships over time. Also, the long-term impact of interventions or policies.
  4. Critical case studies focus on cases that challenge prevailing assumptions, theories, or practices. A critical case study can help researchers to identify and challenge underlying assumptions and beliefs. They highlight the limitations and biases of existing theories and approaches and generate new insights and perspectives.
  5. Ethnographic case studies involve the researcher’s immersion in the case, usually a particular cultural group, organization, or community. Ethnographic case studies can provide a deep understanding of a particular context’s social and cultural dynamics, the people’s perspectives and experiences, and the relationships between different actors.

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