The Art of Case Study Research Paperback – 18 May 1995
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About the Author
Professor Stake received his B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in naval science and Spanish from the University of Nebraska in 1950. He graduated with an M.A. in educational psychology in 1954 from this university. In 1958, he received his Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University. From 1955 to 1958, he was a Psychometric Fellow at the Educational Testing Service. Then, an Associate Professor and Faculty Research Coordinator of the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In 1963, he arrived at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he assisted Thomas Hastings, Lee Cronbach, and Jack Easley in the creation of the new evaluation center, CIRCE, and in developing a program of research on program evaluation. He also became the Associate Director of the Statewide High School Testing Program. In 1975, he became director of CIRCE. He has been active in the program evaluation profession and has promoted an approach to evaluation methods called "responsive evaluation." He took up a qualitative perspective, particularly case study methods, in order to represent the personal experience and complexity of evaluation study. He received the Lazerfeld Award from the American Evaluation Association and an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala.
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Robert Stake's article in the The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research is far more informative about how to conduct case study research from a qualitative perspective, though it is obviously much shorter. Stake's advancement of a typology of case study research ("iterative", "instrumental", and "collective") is useful, as is his insistence on the value of case study research from a qualitative perspective.
For the actual conduct of case study research, the researcher should be familiar with both Robert Stake and Robert Yin, best articulated in Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Applied Social Research Methods). Yin is a more post-positivist case study researcher, and as such offers a more step by step approach to conducting case study research.
The The Art Of Case Study Research is an adequate introduction to Robert Stake's approach to case study research, and is a well-respected and seminal text in the field. Case study researchers should at least be familiar with Robert Stake and this text.
Related to the content, this book failed to provide a comprehensive listing of research appropriate for case study methods - especially over other methods. Qualitative methods were adequately covered, but appropriate uses of available quantitative data often found within case studies were not addressed. The book covered triangulation principles but did not regonize other uses of data in case study research - in particluar the essential role of documentation of protocol to ensure replicability of methods by other researchers. The discussion about sources of data was incomplete and failed to illustrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of each and potential remedies to reduce weaknesses. The author only provided a few common modes of analysis without covering other legitimate means. Throughout the book, the author provided little reference to prior research done on the subject under discussion for a researcher to explore further nor was there any particluar recognition of the contribution of other theorists to the field.
Related to the style, this book used a lot of reference symbols throughout that were distracting to the reader without adding any particular benefit. All of the examples used were from the education field making it difficult for the reader to draw parallels to other fields and maintain interest. The book did not use adequate illustration or presentation of information in tables and formats usually successfully presented in simlar materials. The information was presented in a "lecture" and "exercise" teaching style that is to simple for a learned student or professional.
I gained no "new" knowledge from reading this book and it was a frustrating waste of my time, money and effort. Your mileage may vary!