Among the causes of the little impact of research conducted from proofreading services in management science is the distrust that often wakes up the results of research in this area, both for reasons associated with their “scientific quality” as its application potential in solving the problems that companies face.
This distrust is associated with various causes, many of them related to the very nature of the object of study, the company, which changes rapidly, eroding the validity of the works and making theories obsolete. On the other hand, the variance in the behavior of companies, associated with variables such as age, technology, and location, makes it difficult for explanations about their behavior to acquire the desired generality, necessary so that the results obtained can be transformed into laws and be used to predict the behavior of the object of study.
This situation clearly differs from that experienced in disciplines focused on stable objects. It would be difficult to imagine a world where, for example, the laws of mechanics were different for an observer located in Tokyo in 2000, in Lyon in 2005 or in Guadalajara in 2014, but instead, it is observed and admitted without major Surprise that companies located in these places and moments have differentiated behaviors and performances. On the other hand, although in all scientific disciplines there are deep debates that mark the development of research, this does not prevent There is basic consensus in the way in which certain key problems for basic disciplines, such as the calculation of a trajectory or the resistance of a material, must be addressed and solved. This allows individuals who do not properly belong to the scientific community in question, perceive the impact of the research conducted on it, and use the results achieved to their advantage. This is not the case in management sciences, where there are still practically irreconcilable differences between the various groups that constitute the scientific community associated with this field.
One of the areas in which the internal debate in management sciences is most intense is related to how good quality research should be conducted and what defines such quality. From a methodological perspective to the problems associated with the nature of the object of study, the rejection that still generates the research carried out through one of the main research methods related to the company is added: the case study.
Although there is currently no debate between quantitative and qualitative methods, and that methodological proposals have been developed that allow criticism of case studies to be left behind and progress has been made in the development of mixed methods, as well as study formats of adequate cases for conducting good quality scientific research related to the company the truth is that the prejudices and misunderstandings that led to the systematic rejection of all those works developed through their use persist even though it may be evident that most of the problems in research related to the company are associated with the nature of the object of study and not with the ability of the different methods to achieve quality scientific results if they are applied correctly.
The rejection of research through case studies is particularly conflictive in an area such as management science because this method is the best alternative to deal with aspects of companies that are too complex or idiosyncratic to be approached with quantitative strategies, for this reason, the problem of the persistence of rejection of research through case studies requires attention.
Focusing on the methodological issue, and assuming that the problems in research in management sciences associated with the nature of the object of study similarly affect both works done through a quantitative strategy and those that follow a qualitative strategy and in particular those carried out through case studies, the objective of this proposal is to improve the perception of the research results achieved following the methodology of the case study, in order to encourage its impact to be greater inside and outside the scientific community. For this, based on the classification of case studies some criteria are proposed to classify and name the different types of case studies. These criteria demonstrate the potential advantages of each of these typologies to generate research reports that are relevant in the management sciences. Based on this proposal, a research design for the realization of the postgraduate thesis is presented, which emphasizes the fulfillment of the quality criteria in scientific research so that the resulting theses are better received and evaluated.
Regarding the need to insist on the classification and naming of the different types of reports made through the use of the case study method, this is because one of the causes of the rejection of the method is in the expectations generated by the denomination’s “case” and case studies “within the various groups interested in organizations, and particularly in the company.
It should also be noted that the situation described can be considered a particularity of management science since, in other disciplines, such as history, the use of research through case studies is fully healthy. In addition, the conflict may have a spatial dimension, since it occurs particularly in countries such as Mexico, where there is no long tradition of research in management sciences and where a good part of the researchers who study the company had their initial training in economic sciences and particularly intense training in the use of quantitative methods.
In order to contribute to overcoming this situation, this paper proposes that a better understanding of the different types of cases that are carried out in the field of the company can improve its impact both in the academic and business fields.
There are multiple ways to investigate in the field of management sciences, but one of those with the greatest impact on the development of the discipline is the one that leads to the preparation of the postgraduate thesis because it establishes an imprint on the training of new researchers who join it. In fact, for most members of the discipline, at least in Mexico, the completion of this thesis has been the first contact with management sciences from the perspective of knowledge generation.
The postgraduate thesis, in particular the Master, is a special case in academic research since without having the scope and depth of the doctoral thesis, it is also a mechanism through which the student demonstrates that he has knowledge of the main theories of its disciplinary scope, as well as research capacity and obtaining significant results, preferably empirical, associated with its object of study, following a research method accepted by the academic community. This normally within a period of between 6 months and one year from the conclusion of the face-to-face courses of the program
With the objective of providing a viable option for a postgraduate thesis in management sciences in which the quantitative cutting strategy may be inadequate, a research design is presented below through case studies, with which the student can demonstrate the competencies that are expected of him and complete his research in the time he has available for it.
In general terms, this design is characterized by three elements that must be taken into consideration, since they define its nature:
The first of these is that it is part of the dominant trend in the way of understanding contemporary case studies and seeks to be in accordance with what is established in it. From the seminal proposal of Yin (1984), a high level of consensus has been established that there are five aspects of the research design that are decisive in the quality of an investigation conducted through the use of the case study methodology:
These criteria that although they are not exclusive of this type of investigation, unlike other methods, in the case study they must be developed explicitly in order to counteract the criticism of the deficiencies that are usually attributed to it. On the other hand, they are useful to define the way in which the methodology of the case study should be used, and also to evaluate the quality of a report, as long as they establish what are the aspects to which particular attention should be paid.
The third relevant element of this design is that it tries to reduce as much as possible the time devoted to fieldwork. To achieve this, every minute dedicated to it must be used to the maximum, which requires a thorough preparation of the research, in particular the fieldwork.
The proposed model is based on the development of the five components of the aforementioned case study design and the construction of an explicit protocol, which in this case has the function of documenting aspects that will be evaluated in the thesis, allowing the various Cases that are incorporated into the study are comparable to each other and train the student to face his fieldwork in the best and most efficient way possible. Since this proposal is a particular research design within the general case study model, it is appropriate to specify the particularities of each of its components:
The phenomenon addressed in the study. Since the objective of the research is to carry out a thesis, the phenomenon that is addressed in the study must be an object that can be managed from a hypothetical-deductive perspective, which means that it can be framed in a preexisting theory. This means giving up many of the possibilities of case studies, since through its use other goals could be achieved, such as exploring, describing, or even building a new theory about the phenomenon being addressed, but these are not the usual objectives in a postgraduate thesis.
The renunciation of these potentials has to do with what is pursued in a thesis and with the time and resources available for its realization. If only a limited period for study is available, the existence of a solid theory supports and gives viability to its realization.
The most remarkable aspect of the results mentioned above is that they show that the research design through case studies presented provides a useful and viable alternative to develop a postgraduate thesis. On the other hand, even though the scope and possibilities of the methodology have to be limited in order to facilitate the training of new researchers and the fulfillment of criteria of terminal efficiency and limited postgraduate deadlines, the truth is that the issues addressed show that the design is suitable for
In this type of thesis, when the student has teaching skills, it is advisable to generate, in addition to the thesis itself, a case report type. However, this option implies additional challenges, since preparing the teaching guide for the case is difficult for researchers not linked to teaching, since to propose the way in which the case should be used it is convenient to know the characteristics of the teaching program in that will be used and be clear about what competencies are to be enhanced through its use.
This design represents one of the many variants that a case study can assume and its main strength is that it gives feasibility to research projects that must be carried out with few resources and in a limited period of time, as usually happens in postgraduate theses. Its use has been tested with good results, and the model has sufficient flexibility to be adjusted to the needs of each particular project, which gives it a wide utilization potential. Among its weaknesses, it is found that having been designed to address a particular situation, it renounces many of the main strengths of the case study, and in particular, limits the potential of this methodology in terms of exploration and deepening in non-aspects considered in the original research plan.
The results of the use of the proposed research design presented to show the usefulness of the proposal in the development of theses oriented both to hypothesis testing and other uses such as the evaluation of an intervention or the description and analysis of A business situation. Finally, some alternatives for future expansion for the research design presented are presented.