Rigor in Information Systems Positivist Case Research: Current Practices, Trends, and Recommendations

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Case research has commanded respect in the information systems (IS) discipline for at least a decade. Notwithstanding the relevance and potential value of case studies, this methodological approach was once considered to be one of the least systematic. Toward the end of the 1980s, the issue of whether IS case research was rigorously conducted was first raised. Researchers from our field (e.g., Benbasat et al. 1987; Lee 1989) and from other disciplines (e.g., Eisenhardt 1989; Yin 1994) called for more rigor in case research and, through their recommendations, contributed to the advancement of the case study methodology. Considering these contributions, the present study seeks to determine the extent to which the field of IS has advanced in its operational use of case study method. Precisely, it investigates the level of methodological rigor in positivist IS case research conducted over the past decade. To fulfill this objective, we identified and coded 183 case articles from seven major IS journals. Evaluation attributes or criteria considered in the present review focus on three main areas, namely, design issues, data collection, and data analysis. While the level of methodological rigor has experienced modest progress with respect to some specific attributes, the overall assessed rigor is somewhat equivocal and there are still significant areas for improvement. One of the keys is to include better documentation particularly regarding issues related to the data collection and analysis processes.
Additional Details
Author Line Dube and Guy Pare
Year 2003
Volume 27
Issue 4
Keywords Case study research, methodological rigor, positivism, research design
Page Numbers 597-635
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