Case studies in accounting research Essay

A instance survey is a mystifier that has to be solved. It is an empirical enquiry that investigates a modern-day phenomenon within its existent life context utilizing multiple beginnings of grounds ( Yin, 1989 ) . Harmonizing to Kaplan ( 1986 ) , instance surveies provide a good chance to analyze accounting systems in their context. He wonders why a stronger tradition for this research method does non go out. One possible ground is that accounting research workers have non considered the potency of instance survey research. Another possible ground is that accounting research workers may see instance survey research as those surveies which have no control as to be of about no scientific value ( Cooper & A ; Morgan, 2008 ; Hagg & A ; Hedlund, 1979 ) . However, Zimmerman ( 2001, p 10 ) said that ‘over 15 old ages have elapsed since the first calls for more field-based research. Such a organic structure of surveies now exists. But it has non led to the theory edifice and proving that was envisioned ‘ . Case survey as a scientific method has ever been capable to several unfavorable judgments, which included deficiency of both internal and external cogency and inability to generalise from individual instance. However, these unfavorable judgments are simply misconceptions about instance surveies ( Cooper & A ; Morgan, 2008 ) .

The chief aim in this essay is to measure instance survey research method in accounting research. To accomplish this aim, this essay will get down with discoursing the nature of instance surveies followed a critical appraisal of the restriction of instance survey research method. Finally, the essay will discourse the usage of instance surveies in finance research.

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2. Nature of Case survey

This portion will include a treatment of the construct of instance survey research through analysing its definition and chief types. In add-on, it will include an analysis of the nature of instance surveies in accounting research.

Yin ( 1994, 2003 ) defines instance survey as ‘an empirical enquiry ‘ that examines a certain phenomenon in its ‘real-life context ‘ when the phenomenon under survey is identical from its context. Besides, Cooper and Morgan ( 2008, p.160 ) place instance survey as ‘an in-depth and contextually informed scrutiny of specific organisations or events that explicitly address theory ‘ . Another definition presented by Smith ( 2003 ) is that instance survey implies research which focuses on a individual unit. The alone strength in instance survey method is that it can roll up informations from different beginnings: paperss, interviews and observation ( Smith 2003 ; Yin 1994 ) .

There are different types of instance surveies in accounting research, including descriptive, exemplifying, experimental, explorative, explanatory, ( Ryan et al. 2002 ) . However, these types are non cosmopolitan. It is merely an indicant of different ways of utilizing instance surveies ( Scapens, 2004 ) . These types include the undermentioned ( Ryan et al. 2002 ; Scapens, 2004 ; Smith, 2003 ) :

Descriptive: in which current accounting patterns are described with the purpose of finding the ‘best patterns ‘ used by successful companies. It is peculiarly of import in supplying information sing modern-day accounting patterns.

Exemplifying: in which research workers are seeking to exemplify new patterns used by an ‘innovative ‘ company. However, this method assumes that the patterns of these advanced companies are better than patterns used by other companies, but it can non supply a justification for this premise.

Experimental: this type aims at look intoing the benefits and jobs associated with the execution of new accounting patterns developed by accounting research workers. However, this type is seldom used in accounting research.

Exploratory: in which the research worker makes a preliminary probe sing why and how a peculiar pattern is used.

Explanatory: in which the research worker aims at explicating the grounds behind utilizing specific patterns in a peculiar instance.

In recent old ages, there have been increasing calls from accounting research workers for instance surveies in accounting. Some of these calls have come from those who see instance surveies as necessary start to big sample hypothesis testing ; instead other research workers see that instance survey aid to develop theoretical accounts of accounting patterns ( Humphrey and Scapens, 1996 ) .

In add-on, Zimmerman ( 2001 ) affirmed that the major job of empirical direction accounting research is the deficiency of internal informations about what houses do. However, Merchant and Van der Stede ( 2006 ) emphasized that the best manner to detect these informations is to hold research workers travel to houses and ‘digging it ‘ and this what is precisely done by instance surveies.

Furthermore, Cooper and Morgan ( 2008 ) showed that instance survey is the best manner to get the better of critics of accounting research – its limited success in bring forthing cognition and inability of doing rational and practical part – because its utility in doing inquiries, analyzing issues, developing and proving theory, and supplying counsel in work outing jobs.

In a survey conducted by Merchant and Van der Stede ( 2006 ) on published field survey research in accounting in the period 1981-2004, the research workers found that while the field research method has been used in all accounting countries, its usage prevails in direction accounting. Besides, the publication of i¬?eld surveies is common in merely four diaries: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability ; Accounting, Organizations and Society ; European Accounting Review and Management Accounting Research. Furthermore, they emphasizes that ‘where it has been used, the parts of field research have been important, peculiarly in happening leading-edge patterns and heightening their scholarly geographic expedition ‘ , hence lending to apprehension of the phenomena and associating research with pattern. They argue that while the i¬?eld research method is widely used in direction accounting, it should be used more by research workers in other countries of accounting. ( Merchant and Van der Stede, 2006, p. 118 )

3. Analysis of instance survey restrictions:

Case survey was capable of several unfavorable judgments as a research method. The major unfavorable judgment stems from the inability to generalise from a individual instance. Furthermore, the research worker plays the ruling function in the choice of the instance, aggregation and reading of informations ; this may affect a high grade of research worker prejudice. Furthermore, some writers, like Zimmerman ( 2001 ) , claims that instance surveies have nil to make with the theory, i.e. instance survey is non utile in developing or proving a theory.

Case surveies have ever been criticized about their generalizability. It is hard to generalise findings from one instance to a larger population or to generalise findings from current puting to different scenes ( Amaratunga and Baldry, 2001 ; Bryman and Bell, 2003 ) . The writers of accounting instance surveies often ‘apologize that the size of their sample creates troubles in generalising their findings ‘ ( Ryan et al. 2002, p 148 ) . For illustration, Ittner et Al ( 2003 ) point out that their ability to generalise is limited by their usage of a individual instance. Furthermore, although the utilizations of instance surveies in accounting research have increased in recent old ages, statistical research methods still dominate because their power to generalise consequences ( Lukka and Kasanen, 1995 ) .

However, before sing generalizability, we have to believe about ‘questions such as generalizability to what, and for what ‘ ( Cooper and Morgan, 2008, p. 173 ) . Harmonizing to Yin ( 1994 ) , instance surveies are generalizable to theoretical model ‘analytic generalisation ‘ and non to population ‘statistical generalisation ‘ . Besides, he insists on that a ‘fatal flow ‘ is to utilize statistical generalisation when carry oning a instance survey, because the instance is non a statistical sample, but it is a theoretical sample. For illustration, Frow et Al ( 2005 ) said that their pick of instance represents a theoretical sample and in malice of the limited generalizability their survey provides a theoretical model for other research workers to construct upon. Therefore, the purpose of instance surveies is non to do illation from a sample to population, but to do theoretical generalizability. In add-on, Ryan et Al. ( 2002 ) argues that believing about instance surveies as a little sample comes from the positive methodological analysis which focuses on deducing about population from a sample.

Furthermore, Lukka and Kasanen ( 1995 ) argue that both instance and statistical surveies have the same chance of making to generalizable consequences. Furthermore, both methods have to supply grounds for their generalizable consequences ‘by utilizing significant cognition from the existent universe: cognition of anterior surveies and apprehension of the historical and institutional facets of the phenomenon under survey ‘ . ( Lukka and Kasanen,1995, p 86 )

From another position, instance surveies – through supplying a deep apprehension of a certain phenomena – may be valuable per Se. For illustration, when carry oning a instance survey about the impact of presenting a new accounting control system in big transnational company, Scapens and Roberts ( 1993 ) argue that their instance survey is non an effort to do some ‘universal truth or generalizable theories ‘ ( p.3 ) , but it is their ain reading of the specialnesss of the instance. Furthermore, Flyvbjerg ( 2006 ) claims that scientific discipline is to derive cognition, and generalisation is merely one manner to derive and roll up cognition, and the inability to generalise that cognition does non intend that it can non lend in the cognition accretion procedure. ‘A strictly descriptive ‘ instance survey without generalisation can be valuable in this procedure and ‘has frequently helped cut a way toward scientific invention ‘ ( Flyvbjerg, 2006, p 227 ) .

Another major unfavorable judgment is that instance survey suffers from a deficiency of truth and the possibility of prejudice ( Amaratunga and Baldry, 2001 ) . Ryan et Al. ( 2002 ) said that societal systems are closely related to human existences and instance survey research workers must construe the societal world. Therefore, instance surveies may affect a high grade of subjectiveness ( Ryan et al. 2002 ) . Harmonizing to Bromley ( 1986 ) , cited in Amaratunga and Baldry ( 2001 ) , the research worker prejudice will do the internal cogency of informations doubtful.

On the other manus, when informed by theory, instance surveies will affect a lower possibility of prejudice. Because the theory will steer the research worker ‘s work in choosing the instance and aggregation and reading of informations, thereby leting a low grade of subjectiveness. Yin ( 1994 ) asserts that theory development in progress of informations aggregation is important for instance surveies, whether the end is to prove a theory or to develop a theory. For illustration, Scapens and Roberts ( 1993 ) used theory in their instance survey to understand observations, which are used in developing theory. Similarly, Marginson ( 1999 ) used a theoretical model which informed the informations aggregation.

Yin ( 1994, p 10 ) argues that other research methods are besides capable to the same jobs, ‘but in instance survey they may hold been more often encountered and less often overcome ‘ . Furthermore, when the instance survey uses multiple beginnings for informations aggregation and multiple research workers in coding and reading, the likeliness of prejudice will be really low ( Cooper and Morgan, 2008 ; Smith, 2003 ) . Besides, Flyvbjerg ( 2006 ) said this review is ‘fallacious ‘ because instance survey research has proved that it has its ain asperity, which is non less than the asperity of quantitative methods.

Cooper and Morgan ( 2008 ) see that a farther misconception of instance survey research is the trouble of reproduction, because other research workers will non hold the same chance to analyze an organisation under the same fortunes. However, they said that reproduction is really hard is societal scientific discipline in general because of the rapid alterations in the engineering and environment.

A farther restriction, stated by Zimmerman ( 2001, p 10 ) , ‘over 15 old ages have elapsed since the first calls for more field-based research. Such a organic structure of surveies now exists. But it has non led to the theory edifice and proving that was envisioned ‘ . However, instance survey method has proved to be utile for both theory edifice and testing ( Kaplan, 1998 ; Scapens, 2004 ) . Case survey is peculiarly utile for edifice theories where the phenomenon is obscure and there is no theory. For illustration, Frow el Al ( 2005 ) has conducted instance survey with the purpose of supplying grounds on how houses and their directors in modern-day organisations balance the traditional budgetary controls with the accomplishment of strategic aims. In this survey the purpose of the research workers was to develop a theory, they said that they use instance survey research because this is a new research country which lack both theory and information. Another survey conduced by Marginson ( 1999 ) adopted a different attack through concentrating on proving multiple theoretical positions in analyzing the procedure of control of Telco Ltd. He said that this attack allows for the development, alteration, or distorting a peculiar theoretical position. These two illustrations tell us that instance survey literature has already been used for proving every bit good as developing a theory.

Finally, although all old unfavorable judgments of instance survey can be ‘allayed ‘ , a high quality instance survey is really hard to carry on and it may take excessively long clip ( Yin, 1994 ) . Furthermore, given ‘the astonishing volume of rich informations, there is a enticement to construct theory which tries to capture every thing ‘ , the consequence is a rich but complex theory ( Eisenhardt, 1989, p 547 ) . Another job harmonizing to Merchant and Van der Stede ( 2006 ) , is the deficiency of preparation among field survey researches. They besides said that most universities ignore instance survey method in their concern doctorial plan. Likewise, Berry and Otley ( 2004 ) stressed that instance surveies are more suited for Ph.D. pupils and they besides emphasized the importance of research preparation in these methods.

3.1 Triangulation

In response to old defects of instance survey research method, some writers propose the usage of the impression of triangulation, i.e. multiple research methods, because the strengths of one method may counterbalance the failings of the other ( Amaratunga and Baldry, 2001 ) . Besides, Smith ( 2003 ) states that the cogency and dependability of research can be enhanced by utilizing triangulation. Denzin ( 1978 ) , cited in Modell ( 2005 ) , distinguishes between two types of triangulation: within method triangulation and between methods triangulation. Within method triangulation means utilizing different informations aggregation methods within the same method, but between methods triangulation means utilizing different research methods. Merchant ( 1985 ) , for illustration, has conducted a instance survey taking at researching how discretional plan determinations are controlled in a decentralised house. He uses within method triangulation for informations aggregation including a series of unstructured interviews with general and functional troughs in two decentralised houses, reappraisal of current literature and questionnaire of net income Centre directors in one of the houses. However, harmonizing to Modell ( 2005 ) between methods triangulation is advantageous in get the better ofing the prejudice and cogency issues related to the usage of individual method. Ittner et Al ( 2003 ) has conducted a instance survey to analyze how subjectiveness is incorporated in public presentation rating in major fiscal service house. They used statistical hypothesis trials to back up their determination. Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative methods are used in this survey to complement each other, and to increase cogency and dependability.

4. Case surveies in Finance:

Stoner and Holland ( 2004 ) stress that the universe of finance has changed quickly in recent old ages, which justify the demand for spread outing the conceptual and research model of finance to include methods such as instance surveies. They added that modern finance theory ignores the function of persons in the market, by trusting on constructs such as aggregative market reaction. This creates a demand for research focussing on person ‘s actions.

In malice of this, instance surveies still few in the field of finance and quantitative research methods are ruling methods ( Lee and Humphrey, 2006 ; Stoner and Holland, 2004 ) . Stoner and Holland ( 2004 ) used two old instance surveies – Holland and Stoner, 1996 ; and Holland Doran, 1998- to discourse the nature of instance survey research in finance. It can be concluded from these surveies that instance study research in finance may confront several jobs, which limit its usage. Research costs may restrict the ability to increase the figure of instances and clip taken in each instance. Besides, there may be some trouble in deriving entree to corporate determination shapers. Another job, which is common in instance survey method, is the research worker prejudice, whether in the choice of the instance or in aggregation and reading of informations. Finally, there is a trouble in generalising the findings, and in sum uping the research article objectively.

Additionally, it can be concluded – based on the instances conducted by Stoner and Holland- that the methodological analysis of a instance survey in finance has been used in such a manner to get the better of these jobs. First, findings were interpreted utilizing conventional finance theory to increase dependability. Besides, Case surveies were chiefly dependent upon the experience of interviewees without respect to observation because of the trouble of nonsubjective observation. Different researches are involved in the procedure of reading and cryptography of informations to heighten the cogency. Multiple instances are used to heighten generalizability. Constructing relationships with companies and establishments to ease entree jobs. Finally, small anterior theoretical construction to do certain that current finance theory does non curtail the research procedure.

5. Decision

It can be concluded that instance survey is a method which aims at exhaustively look intoing and analysing a individual instance utilizing different informations aggregation methods such as interviews, papers and observation. Furthermore, in recent old ages instance survey has received an increasing support as a research method in accounting literature to confront the reviews faced by accounting research and to derive a better apprehension of the new accounting developments. However, instance survey as a research method has ever been capable to several unfavorable judgments, which included ; deficiency of internal cogency, deficiency of external cogency, deficiency of dependability among others. In malice of this, these unfavorable judgments can be allayed. It has been suggested that, utilizing different methods for informations aggregation, different research workers in coding and reading, and different research methods e.g. instance survey and study, can be highly utile in increasing cogency and dependability of instance surveies.


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