Case studies come in a range of sizes.
Work out what the scope is for the case study you’re thinking about.
Define the boundaries of the project: these might be physical, time-bound, activity, member or participant.
Think about the following and decide what’s right for your club or facility. Are you going to cover:
- all of the activities carried out by your club/group
- activities occurring in one site only
- users for a particular time of the day or week
- specific user groups/members
- participants in one type of activity?
Have a look at your scope and then the options that might be suitable.
Values reportCase studyPhoto story
- Focuses on an individual
- Small aspect of club or group
- Small project
- Simple programme or event
- Photo story
- Snap shot (less than 10 pages)
- Video story
- Award nomination
- Identifies the value to the members/user
- Story of the club, group, facility
- Complex programme or event
- Case study (10 – 20 pages)
- Report to funders
Complex & Comprehensive
- Comprehensive investigation
- Considers external perspectives
- Detailed values report
- Includes some or all of the above
It is good to know of the interest on the topic of case studies and its design and its relevance. I am a planner and with the perspective of planning, following are my views.
Case study is a method and is a methodology. In social science research is normally used for building theories and testing theories. Case studies can be used for both. However, I feel that its major contribution is in communication i.e. dissemination of practice - its 'good' and its 'bad'. The limitation of case study approach in my view is that whether a case has exemplary value is known only posteriori. The exemplary value needs to be explained for justifying the choice of the case. A clear line of discovery of the case normally will assert its value. The value of "case" also can be asserted by mentioning what it is not! In a case study approach 'data' is not important but 'assertions' seem to be important that does not come from statistics but from analysis.
Flyvbjerg (1998) mentions the triple goal that most authors seem to have pursued with their case based research. Case studies, he argues, are useful when the researcher aims to study
the dynamic relationship between rationality and power; in planning and, more generally, modern democracy at work.
tell a story that will elicit critical thinking and action on the part of readers; and
look at planning (or any other disciplines) from a novel perspective.
Other disciplines like policy, public administration, organisational/management studies, political science, etc. too; may find case studies useful for above aims.
"Case studies" for communication, advocacy and dissemination may be an umbrella term that encompasses lessons learned, success stories, best practices, etc. I think we need to differentiate between documenting/ disseminating "best practices" and studying "case/s". In my view, a case study will have following characters.
1. Intensive Study
2. Indepth Examination
3. Systematic way for collection, analysis, reporting
4. Understanding why and What?
5. Generating and Testing Hypothesis
6. Involvement of Stakeholders in identification of variables
7. Ratifies data/numbers
While "best practices" may have the key characteristics as follows.
2. Proven process (within a geographical location)
3. Reflect the process
4. Community owned & tested procedures
5. Tested innovations
The reasons best practices are useful to generate are that they sustain over a period of time, provide a road map for expansion/scaling up, saves time by giving knowledge for future replication and by way of sharing knowledge provides options and choices.
It may be mentioned that "case studies" are generalisable but the "best practices" may not be generalisable as the rigour of writing 'best practices' in my views is limited.
Lastly, normally case studies do not tell about failures, shortcomings, missed opportunities, and crises; but they sometimes yield the best lessons.
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