INTP / Auditor / PwC

SAE Papers

01. Flyvbjerg, 2006 (W1L)

Misunderstandings about case study research

Five misunderstandings

Misunderstanding 1

General (context-independent, information not constrained by different industry) knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical (context-dependent, information specific to certain industry, which case study research provides) knowledge.


The behavior of organisations cannot be captured or predicted, so all knowledge found in quantitative researches are, to some extent, context-dependent.

Misunderstanding 2

One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case, therefore the case study cannot contribute to scientific development.


We can do the same study in all those popular areas and then combine all those studies together to draw the conclusions. The process is called knowledge accumulation. It is not necessary to always generalize on the basis of one study. One study can contribute to another accumulation, and this knowledge can help us in forming broader theories.

Only one observation or case study is needed to prove the whole theory is wrong.

Misunderstanding 3

The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses: that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building.


We can select extreme cases, and these extreme cases are much more informative than taking just random samples.

Misunderstanding 4

The case study contains a bias towards verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions.


All researches have this bias. We are always working at specific set of expectations. Case studies are trying not to work towards certain expectation but to find information that actually works against the expectation. It is case study that is more helpful in finding this information because reality can be found in interviews, and they are more informative. As a result, there is less bias towards verification.

Misunderstanding 5

It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies.


Complexity is the reality that we are basing and looking at. It is the art of good qualitative research that help us understand this complexity.

Difficulty –> The complexity of reality.

02. Cooper and Owen, 2007 (W1T)

Corporate social reporting and stakeholder accountability: The missing link

  • CSR reporting
  • How do organizations engage with their stakeholders and what effect they have on CSR reporting


  1. Whether CSR reporting will be a mandatory requirement for organisations.
  2. How stakeholders involves in this progress.

Research questions

  1. What are organisations’ voluntary initiatives (relate to stakeholder accountability)?
  2. How does mandatory requirement by the government enhance stakeholder accountability?


  • Case study in a UK setting
  • Documentary data



Stakeholders need to be empowered in order to hold the company to account.


There is a lot of willingness from organisations to participate with their stakeholders. They really feel like they should involve them and invite them to discuss the way creating CSR reports.


The management of these organisations has selected participants that only have same interests as the organisations. The stakeholders the management selects are mainly shareholders.
Engage stakeholders == Engage shareholders ????????
Stakeholder demand == Shareholder value ????????
They already have the same interests as the organisation itself.
Management selects participants whose interests are aligned with the organisation.


Stakeholders never really have a voice in development of those CSR reports because there is too much discretion, and management just disregard their interests and voices, so their interests are completely separated from the key strategic decisions made in organisations.

Organisations look like involve stakeholders a lot, but SHs are not empowered.

CSR is kind of like a marketing tool to show that organisation cares.

Thus, accountability is not enhanced.

Going mandatory

  • Business originated firms (mainly big firms)
    Do not want to move to a stakeholder model or invest in CSR
    1. Because all those stakeholders find important are financial impacts, and they do not want CSR reports.
    2. If there is an environmental issue that affects operation, there will also be a financial impact which will be addressed in normal reporting.
  • Smaller firms
    1. Forcing organisations to report all kinds of impacts is too much. Why not focus on things that are material?
    2. There is no compliance mechanism or penalties, so there is room to not comply.
    3. There is no complaint mechanism for stakeholders. They cannot complain.


Regulation will not necessarily result in enhanced corporate accountability.

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SAE Papers
01. Flyvbjerg, 2006 (W1L) Misunderstandings about case study research Five misunderstandings Misunderstanding 1 General (context-independent, information not con…