Applications of Case Study Research

This book by Robert K. Yin aims to help researchers and graduate level students to improve their knowledge and skills in conducting case study research. 21 individual applications of case study research are included that allow readers to see how the theory can be applied in practice. The book also includes sections on case study evaluations, as well as classroom activities. 

Chapter One of this book is available for free download from SAGE Publications. 



An Abbreviated Definition

All case study research starts from the same compelling feature: the desire to derive a(n) (up-)close or otherwise in-depth understanding of a single or small number of “cases,” set in their real-world contexts (e.g., Bromley, 1986, p. 1). The closeness aims to produce an invaluable and deep understanding—that is, an insightful appreciation of the “case(s)”—hopefully resulting in new learning about real-world behavior and its meaning. The distinctiveness of the case study, therefore, also serves as its abbreviated definition:

An empirical inquiry about a contemporary phenomenon (e.g., a “case”), set within its real-world context—especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (Yin, 2009a, p. 18).

Thus, among other features, case study research assumes that examining the context and other complex conditions related to the case(s) being studied are integral to understanding the case(s).

The in-depth focus on the case(s), as well as the desire to cover a broader range of contextual and other complex conditions, produce a wide range of topics to be covered by any given case study. In this sense, case study research goes beyond the study of isolated variables. As a by-product, and as a final feature in appreciating case study research, the relevant case study data are likely to come from multiple and not singular sources of evidence.” (Yin 2012, p.4)


  • PART I: Starting Points
    • Chapter 1. A (Very) Brief Refresher on the Case Study Method
    • Chapter 2. Field Notes
    • Chapter 3. The Role of Theory in Doing Case Studies
  • PART II: Descriptive Case Studies
    • Chapter 4. Start-Up for a Newly-Appointed Education Leader
    • Chapter 5. Citizens on Patrol
    • Chapter 6. A Case Study of a Neighborhood Organization
  • PART III: Explanatory Case Studies
    • Chapter 7. A Nutshell Example: The Effect of a Federal Award on a University Computer Science Department
    • Chapter 8. Essential Ingredients of Explanatory Case Studies: Three Drug Prevention Examples
    • Chapter 9. Transforming a Business Firm Through Strategic Planning
    • Chapter 10. Rival Explanations
  • PART IV: Cross-Case Syntheses
    • Chapter 11. Proposal Processing by Public and Private Universities
    • Chapter 12. Case Studies of Transformed Firms
    • PART V: Case Study Evaluations
    • Chapter 13: Evaluation of a Community Coalition
    • Chapter 14. Sheriff’s Combined Auto Theft Task Force
    • Chapter 15. Technical Assistance for HIV/AIDS Community Planning


Yin, R. (2012). Applications of Case Study Research. (Third ed.). SAGE Publications.

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