Collective case study method and fractal geometry: Instrumental and intrinsic cases in organizational research
Gilstrap, D. L. 2009. Collective case study method and fractal geometry: Instrumental and intrinsic cases in organizational research. Emergent : Complexity and Organization, 11(4), 1-14.
In case study methods of organizations, researchers are often limited to the aggregation of individual cases within the context of the organizational case. Borrowing from Stake's (1995) use of instrumental and intrinsic case studies, this paper presents a fractal geometry case study method. For the purposes of this article, on site interviews of seventeen librarians who work in a research institution were conducted to learn more about their experiences with organizational change. Instrumental case studies of these individuals, or rather those cases that respond to other phenomena, were performed and analyzed at the micro level. A clustering technique, serving as a fractal seed, was also incorporated to draw out themes that highlighted the interconnections of individuals. These cases were then recursively integrated into an emergent framework of the intrinsic case of the organization. The use of this method suggests that observations of individuals, and the subsequent meaning they generate at the micro level, reflect the complex interconnections of these cases. At the same time, this method suggests that the recursive integration of individual cases contributes to the understanding of the complex organization at the macro level.
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