Cultivating the Under-Mined: Cross-Case Analysis as Knowledge Mobilization
Despite a plethora of case studies in the social sciences, it is the authors' opinion that case studies remain relatively under-mined sources of expertise. Cross-case analysis is a research method that can mobilize knowledge from individual case studies. The authors propose that mobilization of case knowledge occurs when researchers accumulate case knowledge, compare and contrast cases, and in doing so, produce new knowledge. In this article, the authors present theories of how people can learn from sets of cases. Second, existing techniques for cross-case analysis are discussed. Third, considerations that enable researchers to engage in cross-case analysis are suggested. Finally, the authors introduce a novel online database: the Foresee (4C) database. The purpose of the database is to mobilize case knowledge by helping researchers perform cross-case analysis and by creating an online research community that facilitates dialogue and the mobilization of case knowledge. The design of the 4C database is informed by theories of how people learn from case studies and cross-case analysis techniques. We present evidence from case study research that use of the 4C database helps to mobilize previously dormant case study knowledge to foster greater expertise.
case study; cross-case analysis; computer-assisted analysis; knowledge mobilization; researcher; database