IVR Methods and the Relationship With Case Study Research
IVR is an umbrella methodology incorporating many research methods. IVR has its origins in case study research and draws upon all the normal tools of case study research, such as interviews, documents, and observation. Yin (2017) classifies case study research as a method, as do many other commentators on qualitative research. However, researchers should not only use these methods as advocated by Yin. Instead, researchers must think about collecting data as an approach to conducting IVR as a specific methodology. Therefore, the choice of research methods in an IVR project should be not be entirely developed from a ‘case study’ perspective. The choice of method should be purposeful and structured to the IVR project being undertaken, and specifically linked to solving the IVR project’s problem.
More importantly, the first thing we must consider is the question or problem under investigation in Phase 1 (Problem Analysis Sc Project Planning). Thus, the process of collecting and analysing data continues throughout all phases of the IVR project, with the emphasis on collecting data being at the beginning of the project and the analysis being more intensive towards the end of the project; as if they were two ends of a continuum as shown in Figure 7.1.
Phase 1: Problem Analysis & Project Planning
Phase 6: Dissemination
Figure 7.1 The Data Collection and Analysis Continuum in IVR
Figure 7.1 might seem like an oversimplification because there will undeniably be times within an IVR project where you will have intense periods of data collection and analysis. However, you first need to gather that data, and towards the end of the IVR project, during the dissemination phase, the analysis is largely done.
The need to gather data and to be flexible is indicative of the pragmatic approach to conducting research. It does not matter what the research method is, so long as it helps answer the research question, or in the case of IVR, helps resolve the problem at hand as Gray and Milne (2015, p. 56) aptly state:
This is, of course, entirely consistent with a pragmatic approach to research methodology, mixed methods design and pluralism. Which method(s) is selected depends on the problem at hand, and which is likely to deliver the outcomes that work, while understanding fully that what works is likely to be contingent and temporary. This problem choice/focus, call for constant experimentation.
The experimentation with different methods of data collection and analysis is consistent with IVR that relies on experimentation with interventions. Thus, it leads naturally to assume that each experiment may require different data collection methods and different modes of analysis. The interventionist researcher is also a catalyst for change as part of that experimentation process, and therefore is consistently gathering and analysing data, which Dumay (2010, p. 61) refers to as a “catalytical” process within IVR (see Chapter 12).
Additionally, one must also think if the type of data you are collecting uses the appropriate research methods for that data. According to Yin (2017), six common data types are essential to case study research, including documentation, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant-observation, and physical artefacts. However, when we think about IVR, we will probably think about these data sources differently because most case study research generally observes rather than participates in the field. Although, Yin (2017) does consider direct and participant observations as separate methods, which are part and parcel of IVR, and an interventionist will use participant observations more often than in a normal case study research project. So, it is worthwhile for us to explore how to collect, store, and analyse data relating to IVR.
A large volume of literature addresses these methods and their data collection, storage, and analysis, so what we present in this chapter is just a brief overview. The interventionist researcher should study them more closely when they choose a specific method for collecting and analysing data. Our advice is to follow advice given by Parker and Roffey (1997) and return to the “methodological drawing board” before embarking on the data collection and analysis journey. Planning how you gather and analyse data beforehand is just as, if not more important than, planning how to implement an IVR project. Subsequently, gathering and analysing data will also have a profound effect on how you disseminate the results from your study. Additionally, developing reliability, validity, and generalisation in your case study research is also essential. While we mention the important issues of reliability, validity, and generalisations in this chapter, researchers should refer to Chapter 8 for an in-depth discussion on managing these issues constructively in your IVR project.