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    Industrial Marketing Management Special Issue

    Using Case Studies to Develop Theory in Industrial Marketing:

    What are the Hallmarks of “Good” Case Study Research?

    Submission Deadline: May 1st, 2007

    Guest Editors

    Anna Dubois, Chalmers University

    Michael Gibbert, Bocconi University

    Case studies as a tool for generating, testing, and applying theory have long been popular among researchers in the general management realm. Some of the studies with the most path-breaking impact used a case-based methodology, such as Penrose’s, Chandler’s, Peters and Waterman’s, as well as Hamel and Prahalad’s studies.

    In industrial marketing and purchasing literature, case studies and the deep understanding they bring seem particularly appropriate. For example, a substantial portion of work in the industrial marketing literature focuses on the behavior and decisions of individuals and groups within and between organizations. It is therefore not surprising that the case method is frequently used to address questions relating to industrial marketing and purchasing.

    Despite the great potential and the popularity of case research in industrial marketing and purchasing, the method is not free of controversy.

    · From a positivist perspective, the case study method has often been criticized with regard to the validity and reliability of the research findings it produces. For example, case-study critics have argued that despite, or because of, the potential to generate in-depth insight, the method is inadequate to generate theory, since statistical generalizations cannot be made. Similarly, while case studies are often said to be appropriate in situations where the number of variables is larger than the number of observations, this richness in turn leads to concerns about the internal validity of theories produced. How can these trade-offs be managed?

    · From an interpretive perspective, rather than elaborating on excuses for why case research does not fit traditional quality criteria, it has been suggested that new approaches are needed to assess the quality of case research. For example, if we let go of the traditional quality criteria, does rigor in case studies become something that is “in the eye of the beholder,” or can it be ascertained by new, and more case-study appropriate, quality criteria? What would these criteria then be? And how would they contribute to further the development of theory?

    · From a managerial perspective, case research has traditionally been viewed as one of the most appropriate methods for informing managerial decision-makingbecause it is firmly rooted in practice. At the same time, neither positivist nor interpretive camps have made a great deal of progress in coming up with a framework for ensuring managerial relevance of case studies. Indeed, some say that relevance is often sacrificed for the sake of rigor. How can we generate new research ideals that cater for both rigor (however conceived) and relevance?

    This special issue aims to include two kinds of articles. First, we welcome empirical papers that use the case study method to develop a specific theory. Second, we particularly welcome conceptual or empirical papers that investigate the case study method itself. For both types of articles, we invite authors of both nomothetic and idiographic persuasions to join this forum, and welcome both conceptual, empirical, multi-method, and comparative approaches.

    Papers must follow the manuscript guidelines of Industrial Marketing Management. Please refer to the latest issue of the journal or its website for the “Guide for Authors.” Please send an electronic copy of the manuscript that includes all tables and appendices in one file to the guest editors, and, as well as to the IMM editorial office (Please indicate that the manuscript is for this special issue.)

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