Matt Moore <innotecture@...>
"This sounds like an example of a case study to me."
Yes - and you've hit on another bugbear of mine - bad case studies! I've had 2 bad case study experiences this year:
1. A paper that contained 2 "case studies". These case studies concerned very well-known organisations and the researcher's field work seemed to have consisted of reading a couple of articles about them in the press. Ta da - hypothesis proved by reading. I am highly sceptical about case studies based solely on second-hand material - because I have experienced the massive gulf between public perception & internal reality in several organisations.
2. A case study presented at a mixed practitioner/academic conference by an academic who had completely misunderstood what she'd be told by her interviewees. She had a theory (a rather rudimentary & out-of-date one) and seemed to have solely used her evidence to fit it. The practitioners tore her to shreds (yes, I did offer a little constructive criticism). The other academics sounded a little embarrassed by her behaviour.
Both these incidents highlight a problem with case studies. It's not so much the sample size as the lack of direct researcher experience and then critical thinking applied to that experience.
"Where things can get a bit tenuous is when you then attempt to take your conclusions from your n of 1 experiment and develop generalized prescriptive recommendations from them."
Absolutely agree - but then this is the cognitive model used by many consultants and business people (hmmm - better stop now before I hit another bugbear).