Case study research aims at the understanding of a given phenomenon with a certain context, usually, a real-world context (Dooley 2002). It involves various techniques including such as observation, interviews, document analysis and use of questionnaires (Darke et al. 1998).
Usually, they are considered appropriate where the research focuses on questions that probe why or how (Yin 2003) and are useful in situations where researches are aimed at developing or testing theories, and offer description of certain phenomena (Darke et al.1998).This was in line with the purpose and goal of the dissertation, which focused on how personal interests, family interests and business interests are reconciled, specifically, with regards to how finances are managed, decisions are made, employee evaluation and performance measures are carried out, and new hiring done. According to Darke et al.
(1998), researches in which individuals experiences and the situation of actions are important aspects, case study methodology are appropriate.Researches employing case study methodology can be made up of multiple cases or a single case. In this dissertation, the multiple-case approach made up of several interviews with members of my own family owned business and employees (case one-primary case), interviews with family members and employees of two other family owned businesses (case two), deployment of questionnaires online, and review of various other documented case studies focusing on family businesses. This allowed for a comparison and exploration of the situation in varied settings.The aim here was to acquire a broader range of view-points, which would allow for deeper examination of the facts that differ between different family-owned businesses and other types of businesses.
One limitation of using the case study approach is that, it cannot be generalized. Despite the fact that common themes emerged, it would be difficult to generalize them for different individuals or businesses. Additionally, case study researches are considered to lack in vigor (Yin 2003) and that they are prone to difficulties such as the influence the research has on the collection and analysis of data (Darke et al.1998).The technique primarily used in this case study was in-depth interviewing and observation, which according to (Cassell & Symon 2004) is appropriate for interpretive study. Semi-structured interviews comprising of sets of open-ended questions were used since they allowed for deep evaluation of various concepts and ideas during the interview. The challenges encountered in carrying out the case studies were methodological in nature.
These issues, practical difficulties, are not new as stipulated by Cassell & Symon (2004) who describe several practical difficulties experienced when carrying out case study research.In this case, selecting the business to be used as case study sites, accessing those sites, and how to manage entry and exit from those sites were some evident challenges (Pereira & Vallance 2006). Large volumes of data collected, in relation to available resources and time for review and evaluation are other challenges that were also encountered. As had earlier been noted, the primary method for carrying out the case study was through interviews, face to face interviews and use of questionnaires.Interviews in the family-owned business, especially with employees and other family members were cancelled and the participants were limited thereby hindering the process of gathering information. This also happened with the other family businesses studied in which the business owners were the only ones interviewed.
The absence of employees for the interviews meant that, the process of information gathering only got information from one side. It was, therefore, difficult to understand issues relating to employee hiring, performance measuring and evaluation.These family-owned business, including our family owned business faced restructuring and as a result chances of getting more information through follow-up interviews were not successful. Using the case study approach provided insightful lessons that could be used to counteract the envisaged overall challenges in carrying out the dissertation. First, it was clear that a case study site, such as our own family-owned business, is an active participant in the research with the ability to change the outcome of the research. As a result, there is the need for a research to evolve so as to counter any changes that may arise in the case study site.
Additionally, it is important to manage participants or persons involved in a case study site, especially, in relation to their different opinions, personalities, and approaches. The researcher must also acknowledge that individuals and organizations are political with their own goals and objectives, which might affect the situation of the research. The researcher therefore needs to be aware and learner how these objectives and goals might influence the research.
In so doing, envisaged challenges that may arise with respect to carrying out the dissertation can be alleviated.