The one who sees more is more right: how theory enhances the ‘repertoire to interpret’ in qualitative case study research
With this paper, we contribute to the methodological discussion if and how pre-existing theoretical knowledge should be applied in qualitative case study research without compromising openness of research. Regarding this topic, there are basically two conflicting approaches in previous literature. On the one hand, proponents of an empirical-analytical tradition within qualitative case study research apply previous knowledge to develop theoretical propositions and test them. On the other hand, the supporters of a large part of research based on positivistic and constructivistic paradigms emphasize the diction of ‘uncontaminated’ access to data and insist on the rejection or delay of applying previous knowledge. While most scholars recently share at least the conviction that a naïve empiricism tabula rasa concept is not viable and therefore theory ‘somehow’ plays a role in qualitative research as well, its explication is still underemphasized in methodical literature. In this article, we propose a framework as well as methodological rules about how theory can be used during the entire qualitative research process to enhance what we call the ‘repertoire to interpret’ and concurrently sustain openness of research.
Case study research
Minimal design of scientific research