Case study research: Foundations and methodological orientations

Helena Harrison, Melanie Birks, Richard C Franklin, Jane Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

359 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last forty years, case study research has undergone substantial methodological development. This evolution has resulted in a pragmatic, flexible research approach, capable of providing comprehensive in-depth understanding of a diverse range of issues across a number of disciplines. Change and progress have stemmed from parallel influences of historical transformations in approaches to research and individual researcher’s preferences, perspectives, and interpretations of this design. Researchers who have contributed to the development of case study research come from diverse disciplines with different philosophical perspectives, resulting in a variety of definitions and approaches. For the researcher new to using case study, such variety can create a confusing platform for its application. In this article, we explore the evolution of case study research, discuss methodological variations, and summarize key elements with the aim of providing guidance on the available options for researchers wanting to use case study in their work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Number of pages17
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Case study
  • Method
  • Methodology
  • Nursing research
  • Qualitative
  • Research
  • Research design

Cite this