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Embedded Case Study Methods

Embedded Case Study Methods
Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Knowledge

  • Roland W. Scholz - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Olaf Tietje - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland

January 2002 | 408 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In an embedded case study, the starting and end point is the comprehension of the case as a whole in its real-world context. However, in the course of analysis the case will be faceted either by different perspectives of inquiry or by several sub-units. The book presents different methodological approaches to organize this faceting process. It uses the power of the system approach in order to apply methods, which allow a scientific treatment of complex cases in a way that will be also acknowledged by the quantitative research community. The authors emphasize that a qualitative analysis starting from the real-world level is an indispensable part of case analysis. Thus the book bridges the gap between quantitatve and qualitative approaches to complex problems when using the case study methodology.
1. Introduction
Methods of Knowledge Integration

Embedded Case Studies for Complex, Contextualized Problems

Historical Landmarks

2. Types of Case Studies


Epistemological Status



Data Collection and Methods of Knowledge Integration

3. The Use of Case Studies in Different Disciplines

Educational Sciences



Environmental Sciences

4. The Architecture of Knowledge Integration in Embedded Case Studies
The Architecture of Embedded Case Studies

Strategies of Synthesis

The Brunswikian Lens Model

Types of Knowledge Integration

5. The ETH-UNS Case Study Zurich North
The Zurich North Case

Case Prospects and History

Understanding the Case

Faceting the Case for Embedded Case Design

Constraints of the Study

Organizing the Study

6. Overview
7. The Methods in Brief
8. How to Choose the Right Method
9. Formative Scenario Analysis
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

10. System Dynamics
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

11. Multi-Attribute Utility Theory
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

12. Integrated Risk Management
The Rationale

Incorporating Different Perspectives

The Method in Detail

13. Mediation: Area Development Negotiations
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

14. Future Workshops
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

15. Experiential Case Encounter
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

16. Synthesis Moderation and Group Techniques
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

17. Material Flux Analysis
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

18. Life Cycle Assessment
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

19. Bio-Ecological Potential Analysis
The Rationale

The Method in Detail

20. The Validation of Embedded Case Studies
The Rationale

Validation of Embedded Case Studies: A Practical View

About the Authors

"If you were part of a study team trying to figure out what to do in a complicated (i.e., multi-party, multi-issue, technically complex) situation, you would want to rush out and get a copy of Embedded Case Study Methods by Roland Scholz and Olaf Tietje. Using their own Zurich North case study to explain the proper use of case study methods, they demonstrate how eleven different techniques -- including integrated risk assessment, multi-attribute utility theory, scenario analysis, future workshops, and a kind of mediation called Area Development Negotiation -- ought to be used to develop collaborative solutions. Along the way, they destroy conventional distinctions between quantitative and qualitative methods and offer (finally!) an integrated approach that applies equally well to problem framing, option generation, and the management of stakeholder encounters. Most of the relevant literature (from more than a dozen disciplines) is reviewed in detail. What more could a study team member want?"

Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the award-winning Consensus Building Handbook (Sage, 1999)

"Scholz and Olaf have developed an important methodology to integrate complex cases. Their approach combines the best of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to create new insights that would not be available to researchers using more conventional approaches."  

Jesse Isador Straus Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

"This is an excellent book that serves an important purpose. It should become a valuable resource in research methods courses covering issues of case research. Doctoral students especially, should find the book particularly helpful. The conceptual material and methods of knowledge integration presented in this book provide scholars with the background and tools necessary to conduct case studies that meet the field's most rigorous scientific standards."

Organizational Research Methods

This book should be required reading for anyone involved with case study analysis.


This is a bold contribution to case study methodology, perhaps more suitable for postgraduate student considering a mixed methods approach, or a research team collaborating on a new type of project. Scholz and team introduce the transdisciplinary case study approach (TCS), which they developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). There are case studies from 5 different disciplines: neuropsychology, education, law, business, and environmental sciences. An excellent guide for any researcher contemplating a trans-disciplinary or complex case study.

Mrs Udeni Salmon
Salford Business School, Salford University
November 28, 2014

The book is at the forefront of assessing good case study approaches, how they can be managed, and the conditions under which they are effective. The book makes academics aware of useful theories to explore ways in which case studies can be useful.

Industrial Management, University of Navarra
May 30, 2014

Embedded case study methods: Integrating quantitative and qualitative knowledge focuses on different aspects of the case study research approach, and argues that systematic embedded case studies can be used as a research methodology in its own right. The authors show how embedded case studies can be employed to qualitative, quantitative and mixed research approaches. The text provides examples of how embedded case studies can be used in different fields to solve complex research problems in areas such as: neuropsychology, educational sciences, law, business and environmental science. The book consists of 20 chapters which are divided into four parts. Part one covers case study design and synthesis which introduces the reader to different types of case studies and their design, as well as the purpose and methods of knowledge integration. Part two discusses methods of knowledge integration in relation to the different methods which can be applied to different types of embedded case studies in areas such as: integrated risk management, life cycle assessment, mediation – area development, bio-ecological potential analysis, methods for medical cases, and more cases are listed in the book, as well as how to choose the right method for different areas of research. Part three contains the largest amount of chapters within the book and its main focus is about discussing in detail the methods which were briefly present to the reader previously in part two of the text. Part four covers validation perspectives in terms of setting out the rationale for research projects and providing validation of embedded case studies. The text includes useful tables and illustrations throughout the book to aid the read and is assessable for both undergraduate and postgraduate students planning to employ embedded case study research.

Mr Gary McKenna
School of Computing, University of the West of Scotland
January 30, 2013

This is a wonderfully in-depth reference for case study research. It does a fine job of presenting the analytic nature of case study research, which is suitable for doctoral level study.

Dr Marilyn Kirshbaum
Nursing and Health Studies, Huddersfield University
July 6, 2010

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