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Case research in operations management
Chris Voss, Nikos Tsikriktsis and Mark Frohlich
London Business School, London, UK
Keywords Operations management, Research, Methodology, Case studies Abstract This paper reviews the use of case study research in operations management for theory development and testing. It draws on the literature on case research in a number of disciplines and uses examples drawn from operations management research. It provides guidelines and a roadmap for operations management researchers wishing to design, develop and conduct case-based research.
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Drejer et al. (1998) indicate that there is a particular tradition of this kind of research in Scandinavia, where case research is widely used in such research. Case research is widely used in other management disciplines, notably organisational behaviour and strategy. Yin (1994) has described in detail case research design, and Glaser and Strauss (1967) described the grounded theory method. Case research has its roots in the broader field of social sciences, in particular ethnographic studies and anthropology. In this paper, we will draw on the experience of these disciplines as well as that of researchers in operations and technology management. In particular, we will draw on the work of Eisenhardt (1989), who brought together much of the previous work on building theory from case research. Our intention is to provide a roadmap for designing, developing and conducting case-based research and also to describe some recent examples of case-based research in the field of operations and technology management. Most of the research conducted in the field of operations management is based on rationalist[1] research methods, primarily statistical survey analysis and mathematical modelling. However, since ``. . . the explanation of quantitative findings and the construction of theory based on those findings will ultimately have to be based on qualitative understanding’’ (Meredith, 1998),
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