Longitudinal case research - A critical realist perspective
Springer New York LLC
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Business
It is argued that case studies can be classified as either describing or explaining a particular research phenomenon and as such researchers first need to finalize which approach they are going to adopt. The concept of explanation suggests a realist approach and description suggests an interpretive approach. If explanation is the target, the selection of a theoretical approach for a longitudinal study is made more difficult as organizational contexts can alter radically from that in place at the initiation of a study—totally different approaches may be necessary to best explain the underlying "reality" of the situation. This article suggests that Bhaskar's (1979, 1986) philosophy of critical realism can provide some guidance as to the theoretical approach to adopt. A framework is developed based on a critical realist argument for the consideration of both structure and agency in research, the suggestion being that different organizational situations require differing emphasis on structure or agency.