2.2 Multiple case studies research design

 Multiple case studies research design

There are many reasons for choosing the case study methodology to conduct this research. First of all, it enables to gain a holistic view of OSH, providing a rounded picture given the many sources of evidence used (Gummesson 1991). Secondly, a case study is useful in capturing the emergent and immanent properties of an instable context like OSH that is changing very quickly (Hartley 1994). Thirdly, it is more suitable in an exploratory analysis when the goal is to provide and answer to “how” questions which aim to explain a certain phenomenon (Yin 1994).  Finally, a case study might allow also generalizations of the findings that can lead to some form of replication nor strictly related to User Entrepreneurship and OSH (Mohd Noor 2008). The process used in the case studies is described by the figure below[1].

Figure 7 Stage involved in conduction case studies

Source: Mohd Noor (2008)

Procedural characteristics. In this study, the procedural characteristics are grounded on taking into account that there are many variables of interest, multiple sources of evidence, as well as transversal theoretical propositions to guide the collection and analysis of data (Yin 1994). Case studies based on multiple sources of evidence have proven to be rated higher in terms of overall quality than those that relied on a single source of information (Yin 1994). As a result, this reflects positively on the validity of the qualitative data provided.

Typology. The type of case study employed is exploratory, given the aim to provide information in order to gain new knowledge and to fully understand the problems.

Design. The research design is based on Strauss’s grounded theory approach (Strauss and Corbin 1990) on a multiple case studies. The research context described in the previous section is made by Arduino. In fact, after screening the OSH environments, the centrality of Arduino clearly emerged.

Since the aim of the research is to understand how the change in the OS technology from software to hardware can foster users to become entrepreneurs, the investigation is conducted in two separate steps.

Firstly, an in depth analysis of Arduino as the background of the research context was made in the first paragraph of this chapter, for its uniqueness and success in OSH context, as well as the impossibility to isolate the two concepts. In this phase, the other key players in OSH environment who positively affect innovativeness on the users’ side are highlighted and discussed in appendix 1.

Secondly, starting from Arduino, in the next section the search will merely be focused on a qualitative multiple case studies, with the aim to study how OSH users innovate and then commercialized the selected Arduino based projects. Given the novelty of the field of study and the analysis run, the choice for multiple cases seems appropriate as it allows checking consistency of any similar results. Moreover, multiple case studies should follow the replication and not the sampling logic approach. This means that more than two cases should be included within the same study because the approach enables comparisons to be made as well as they give the possibility to draw patterns across the cases and obtain more reliability in the overall results (Yin 2004).


[1] In contrast to Mohd Noor, in this study the cases analysed are 16 and not 4 as reported in the original figure.

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