Using Interpretive Qualitative Case Studies for Exploratory Research in Doctoral Studies: A Case of Information Systems Research in Small and Medium Enterprises

Shana R. Ponelis
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 10  •  2015  •  pp. 535-550
The use of the case study method has gained mainstream acceptance in both entrepreneurship and information systems research to develop conceptual and theoretical models that are novel, yet grounded in the literature. In spite of many texts on the case study method and the growing acceptance and use of thereof, there are relatively few examples that discuss how to apply the case study method. The purpose of this paper is to provide such an example by drawing upon the author’s research for her doctoral dissertation in the discipline of information systems and entrepreneurship research. First, the use of qualitative case studies as research method is motivated, then the importance of the research paradigm is discussed and the interpretivist research paradigm justified followed by a detailed discussion of the research design. The paper concludes with a discussion of lessons learned and recommendations based on the author’s experience with using the case study method. The practical yet theoretically founded approach of this paper may be useful to doctoral students who are considering or using the case study method. Equally, supervisors and others involved in research training may find this paper useful as an illustrative example of the case study method for their students.
case study method, qualitative methods, interpretive research paradigm, exploratory research, theory building, semi-structured interviews, information systems, IS, entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprises, SMEs
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