Case Study Research Methods and Consulting Techniques – BUSI 830

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 05/26/2022

Course Description

This doctoral level course examines the qualitative method used in business research, with a focus on case studies. Students will also explore current trends in effective business consulting techniques.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


BUSI 830, building upon the advanced concepts and techniques learned in the preceding courses, provides an advanced perspective on case study research and business consulting methods. Many generally characterized as ‘qualitative research projects’ are in fact case studies for applied business consulting research projects that go well beyond the traditional ethnographical, phenomenological, interview-based, or grounded theory research. It is crucial researchers understand most qualitative research projects, regardless of cognate, have at least a hint of mixed methodologies by way of some quantitative descriptive statistical data and associated tools for research triangulation. This course brings the DMAIC Approach to bear on such a challenge and should provide the final piece of the major research methodologies to prepare the student for their Applied Research Concept (BUSI885) and subsequent Project courses (BUSI987-BUSI990).

The mission of the DBA program is to provide an opportunity for qualified students to attain academic, professional, and practical competence—within the Christian worldview—which prepares students for opportunities, and corresponding additional responsibilities beyond the master's degree level. The DBA program emphasizes practical and real-world applications in both the course work and the major applied doctoral research project requirements. The vision of the DBA program is to produce graduates with intellectual and professional competencies in the following areas:

  • the ability to demonstrate the capacity for reflective and analytical business thinking;
  • the ability to draw together relevant concepts and theories from different business disciplines in order to gain a better understanding of the organizational context in which particular problems or opportunities arise;
  • the ability to analyze problems and issues arising in business and management contexts, utilizing relevant theories, concepts, and empirical findings;
  • the ability to identify and analyze questions and issues in business; and
  • the ability to design, implement, and successfully conclude empirical research

Each of the above will be considered in light of biblical principles, and be integrated within the Christian worldview.

The DBA program philosophy supports both the program mission and vision, and is as follows. Doctoral programs in business focus intensively on preparing candidates for academic careers and to conduct highly specialized academic research, i.e., the development of new theory in business and other related business fields. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs focus on the application of theory rather than on the development of new theory. While also intended to prepare graduates for academic careers, the DBA, by virtue of its focus on application of theory, has more practical application in managerial settings than the PhD.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirement Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will participate in 5 discussions in this course. The application of a business solution is as unique and varied as there are business issues or challenges. Countless consulting agencies tout their ‘reputable/high quality…’, ‘several ranges’, ‘…rapid development methodologies’, ‘customized delivery models’, ‘rife with rich/rigorous research’, ‘forward-looking/future sustainment’, ‘cost-effective applications’, etc. all in the name of providing laser-focused, guaranteed solutions to your organization’s unique problems. In these discussion main threads, the student will serve as the consultant and discuss methodologies of how to apply each topic or type of case study to a specific issue. In the replies, the student will consider himself/herself another consultant and, while still searching for the best business solution, analyze/respond to his/her peer’s main thread.


Discussion: Solutions that Incorporate Lean Six Sigma

The application of LSS in Case Studies indicates the potential to use case studies in a broader sense. The application of LSS in case studies to business solutions requires an acute perspective which we hope to develop throughout this course. In this discussion, the student will consider an organization that has a manufacturing issue-specifically, no one in the organization can seem to articulate why their final product (widget) takes less than 4 hours of actual prep/manipulation(stamping, carving, refining, etc.)/assembly/finishing, and yet the time from entry of all the raw materials to the ship date is 3 months. The organization seems to have plenty of supply and demand, space, resources, manning, etc. The student will discuss what part of LSS (Lean or Six Sigma) would be more appropriate/effective in solving this organization’s problem.


Discussion: Solutions in the Exploratory Case Study

An exploratory case study aims to explore events or phenomena in everyday contexts in which they occur. The student will have decided using an exploratory case study is the most effective approach in a project observing the interactions of contract employees with staff employees to determine the influence of the staff's safety culture on the actions of the contractor (currently the contract employees are somewhat indifferent to safety). As the consultant, the student will explain and discuss how he/she believes the study will play out, expected data, and how he/she will use that data.


Discussion: Solutions in the Descriptive Case Study

Descriptive research involves gathering data that describes naturally occurring events and then organizes, analyzes, and describes the data. Descriptive case studies do not seek to discover causal relationships, descriptive case studies can still be used as an effective method of carrying out research and lead to further research studies. For this discussion, a descriptive single-case study examines the characteristics of medication errors made by student nursing providers in the emergency room. The goal is to observe how many medication errors are occurring. The case study is organized according to three descriptive topics: medication errors made by student nurses, number of medication errors the supervising RN was aware of, and distractions within the workplace. The use of this study will help show how many errors along with where errors are occurring and can lead to further studies if new policies are put into place. The student will frame how the purpose, methodology, and results of this study would provide solutions to organizations in the health care industry.


Discussion: Solutions in the Explanatory Case Study

The purpose of an explanatory case study is to understand a contemporary phenomenon within a specified context using multiple sources in a predominately qualitative manner to explain the "how" and "why" of the phenomena. For this discussion, the explanatory case study is how the cultural influences of a project manager in the developmental years of life affect the risk strategy applied to an active project. The study focuses on the economic disparities during the developmental years of the project managers to develop theoretical propositions to explain why some project managers are more risk-averse than others. The student will discuss what tools or methods could supply a framework for the researcher to develop the protocol for the observations of the project managers to find traits. Then articulate an LSS tool the researcher could use to improve the observations of the project managers by looking for other factors which may influence decision concerning risk and then subsequently how economic disparity has or has not directly influenced risk aversion in a project manager.


Discussion: Solutions in the Multiple-Case Case Study

Multiple-case case studies allow the researcher to use replication logic to evaluate the theoretical propositions and strengthen the findings of the studies. In this discussion, the example of a multiple-case study would be the culture of compliance to environmental regulations within investor-owned electrical utilities, local municipal electric utilities, and federal electrical utilities. The application of the same case study construct to the three distinct types of electrical utilities allows the researcher to show potential trends of similarity or differences. The researcher is then able to compare the trends and findings against the theoretical propositions to determine the validity of the study. The synthesizing of the data across three separate types of utilities allows the researcher to address outlier and rival explanations as a part of the research findings. As a consultant to the Kansas state leadership, the student will discuss what this Multiple-Case Case Study brings to bear on the source selection of the electricity provider for the state. The student must specifically speak to the application of a couple of business solutions (i.e. does this study identify a single solution or could it be parlayed into a range of solutions, do the outcomes of this study bring a scalable solution, what’s the difference between this and a simple business case analysis or cost benefit analysis, etc.)

Case Study Assignments (8)

Introduction to Case Studies Assignment

This assignment is a broad overview of Case Study methodology and begins to differentiate between the other qualitative research methodologies. Specifically, the student will identify the relevant situation for doing a case study, explain the two-fold definition of case study inquiry, define the case(s) to be studied, describe the components of case study design, identify the case study design (single or multiple, holistic, or embedded cases), test the design against four criteria for maintaining the quality of a case study and use of tactics, and address cases that are not readily bounded.


Lean Six Sigma in Case Studies Assignment

The student will examine Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in Case Studies and where he/she will begin to notice the application to business solutions. This look is by all means not exhaustive, rather a broad stroke with a self-propagated LSS toolkit. There is no cookie-cutter design to a previously narrowly focused case study approach. However, the application of LSS in Case Studies indicates the potential to use case studies in a broader sense. In fact, many case studies will have a hint of quantitative and mixed methods within the overarching qualitative methods of case study research. The application of LSS in case studies to business solutions requires an acute perspective which we hope to develop throughout this course. The reading from Yin (2018) describes preparing to collect case study evidence, but the lion’s share of this module’s learning comes from George et al. (2005).


Exploratory Case Study Assignment

The student will examine Exploratory Case Studies, preparing, and collecting case study evidence (Yin, 2018). At this point in a case study, the student will have a plan and design and will be ready to begin the data collection data process. I use the term process very deliberately as there are many steps for which integrity and accountability cannot be over stated. The student will also get to practice the first of three types, sometimes characterized as ‘transitional’ – the Exploratory Case Study.


Descriptive Case Study Assignment

The student will look to analyzing case study evidence and the Descriptive Case Study. Analyzing data is more than plugging some collected raw evidence into a computer and reading the computer printout. In fact, setting-up what data to analyze and then how to analyze are some of the most challenging aspects and warrant significant planning and design. The descriptive case study is one that is focused and detailed, in which propositions and questions about a phenomenon are carefully scrutinized and articulated at the outset. This articulation of what is already known about the phenomenon is called a descriptive, and therefore may or may not have much data to analyze. Strengths of Descriptive Case Studies are they are efficient for rare cases or cases with a long latency period for results. They are less costly and less time-consuming; they are advantageous when the ‘rare case’ data is expensive or hard to obtain. The real challenge with a descriptive case study is that it does not attempt to address any particular research question. It thus has to be justified on the claim that something about this particular case will generate a genuine addition to knowledge. Analysis then, begins with the data and how we see it.


Explanatory Case Study Assignment

The student will continue the challenge of analyzing case study evidence. This analysis goes to another level. The student should “attend to all evidence collected, investigate, plausible rival interpretations, address the most significant aspect of your case study, and demonstrate a familiarity with the prevailing thinking and literature about the case study topic” (Yin, 2018, p. 164). This task requires the student to: review the data again to ensure he/she hasn't overlooked or minimized some piece, think way ‘outside the box’, re-focus the research questions and propositions, study current research trends and philosophies, and do more qualitative literary research. This is like going back to the beginning because regardless of how well-planned, designed, collected, or analyzed, chances are the student missed something that just may be the analysis breakthrough he/she was searching for. Finally, the student will shift gears to the third type of case study: the Explanatory. Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, Explanatory Case Studies not only explore and describe phenomena (deductive) but can also be used to explain causal relationships and to develop theory and can build on Exploratory Case Studies.


Multiple-Case Case Study Assignment

The student will discuss the final stage – sharing or reporting of his/her case study. Reporting covers a variety of subtopics: audience, display of the evidentiary conclusion, the report itself, and of course how to strike a balance of data overload versus just enough for a reader to draw their own conclusions from the data included in the report. While the main types of case studies have been covered, a special variant warrants a bit more study – the multiple-case case study. Many business problems warranting a case study are of the complexity and breadth that a single holistic case can not address the issues and yet the cases are connected, related, and perhaps interdependent. There is a heavier emphasis on integrating the Lean Six Sigma in this case as nearly all business solutions methods will require some quantitative or mixed methods elements. The Zhang et al. (2015) article provides an excellent real-world perspective of a business employing the multiple-case case study with Lean Six Sigma research.


DMAIC Case Study (DRAFT) Assignment

The student will develop a significant DRAFT of the FINAL business-facing DMAIC-based case study (See Module 8: Week 8 for overview). The more substance the student provides in this DRAFT, the more feedback he/she can receive.


DMAIC Case Study (FINAL) Assignment

The student will synthesize the qualitative research methodology of Case Study research (and applications) (Yin, 2018) as well as the practical use of Lean Six Sigma (George et al., 2005) to develop a business-facing DMAIC-based case study integrated with Lean Six Sigma tools and biblical worldviews. Also, the seven article readings and the student's own supporting research have provided a variety of example designs to include single-case holistic to multiple-case embedded case studies. The emphasis of this project is the DMAIC Case Study process.

Quiz: Knowledge Check

Based on the Measurable Learning Outcomes above, this course will have a quiz to ensure we are meeting the Program Learning Outcomes.