Case Studies and Popperian Falsification: A Note on Flyvbjerg's "Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research"


  • Roberto Sarmiento Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi
  • Garvan Whelan Instituto de Tecnología Tallaght
  • Jan Sprenger Universidad de Tilburg



case studies, Bent Flyvberg, universal-deterministic propositions, Popperian falsification


In this research note we present thoughts on methodological issues relating to the application of findings based on qualitative case studies. We respect the viewpoint that case study research should seek to gain an understanding of the subjective interpretations of phenomena as socially constructed by the various parties. POPPER's approach to science acknowledges that all research findings are fallible and based on theory dependant perspectives, but proposes that there is scope for a critical and objective procedure that facilitates the intersubjective testing (and possible falsification) of these findings.

We develop a specific point made by Bent FLYVBJERG (2006) who correctly suggested that, according to Popperian logic, a proposition may be falsified by the evidence found in a case study. However, it should also be specified that for a scientific proposition to be logically falsifiable by a single observation (such as a case study), it must be in the form of a claim that it will apply in all cases, i.e., a universal-deterministic theory. Our intention is to raise awareness of the important role of qualitative case studies for the advancement of scientific knowledge (in a Popperian sense). In this way, we hope to make a contribution to an inclusive debate on case study research methodology.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Roberto Sarmiento, Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi

Roberto SARMIENTO, maestro e investigador de tiempo completo en la Facultad de Ingeniería de la Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, México. Sus áreas de interés incluyen administración de operaciones, cadenas de suministro sustentables, metodologías de la investigación, entre otras.

Garvan Whelan, Instituto de Tecnología Tallaght

Garvan WHELAN, maestro e investigador en el Departamento de Contabilidad y Estudios Profesionales en el Instituto de Tecnología Tallaght, Irlanda. Sus áreas de interés incluyen la gestión de la contabilidad, gestión financiera, finanzas corporativas, metodologías de la investigación, entre otras.

Jan Sprenger, Universidad de Tilburg

Jan SPRENGER, profesor de filosofía de la ciencia en el Departamento de Filosofía de la Universidad de Tilburg, y director científico del Centro Tilburg para la investigación de lógica, ética general y filosofía de la ciencia (TiLPS) de la misma universidad. Sus áreas de interés incluyen la filosofía de la estadística inferencial, objetividad de las inferencias científicas, epistemología formal, fundamentos de la teoría de probabilidad, entre otras.



How to Cite

Sarmiento, R., Whelan, G., & Sprenger, J. (2018). Case Studies and Popperian Falsification: A Note on Flyvbjerg’s "Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(1).



Single Contributions