Yin et al.: "Case Studies and Organizational Innovation: Strengthening the Connection"

Yin, R. K., Bateman, P. G., & Moore, G. B. (1985). Case Studies and Organizational Innovation: Strengthening the Connection. Science Communication, 6(3), 249-260. doi:10.1177/107554708500600303






Points out that most research only emphasize data collection and not other phases of research process. Wish to identify methodological characteristics leading to high ratings among published case studies (250).


Analytic Framework and Procedure


53 studies identified focusing on studies of organizational innovation in 7 public services. Designed to reflect most recent and best state-of-the-art in case studies.


Global ratings made for each study by group of experts, covering degrees to which CS contributed to knowledge as to practice, theory, as well as overall quality.


Studies coded for methodological characteristics: problem definition, design, nature of evidence used, analysis and interpretation, and manner of presentation. Coding done by analysists blind to results of global ratings (a type of cross-checking). Variation suggested controllable characteristics representing ways case studies could be improved. Characteristics occurring in most/all of case studies or few/none identified.




See Figure 1-3 (254-53).


Use multiple, rather than single-case designs, use operational procedures to select cases, and relate previous theory to issues being investigated (257). No single characteristic related to higher score. Noted


"use of operational definitions for the innovation process and its outcomes (as opposed to outcomes of the innovation itself)--was significantly related to at least one of the characterstics found in each of Figures 1-3 (though it was not significantly related to any of the global ratings directly). In this sense, this single characteristic may be an antecedent condition to high ratings of all three types, following a two-stage sequence: (a) for high ratings of any type, investigators should operationally define the innovation process, and (b) for each specific type of rating, they then also should adopt the characteristics found in Figures 1-3, depending on the type of rating most relevant to a study''s objectives" (258).




Concrete guidelines for conducting future case studies


  1. should reflect at least five concerns: problem definition, research design, nature of the evidence, analysis and interpretation, and manner of presentation (methodological characteristics enumerated in Table 2 are relevant).
  2. establish whether purpose of case study is to contribute to knowledge about practice, theory, or both. Depending upon choice, preferred methodological characteristics ought to be different
  3. regardless of purpose, first define innovation process being studied in clear, operational terms
  4. by inference, peer reviews of case studies should consider using these guidelines as criteria for judging case study research (both proposal stage or completed work)