Cropper S A, 1982, "Theory and strategy in the study of planning processes—the uses of the case study" Environment and Planning B 9(3) 341 – 357
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Theory and strategy in the study of planning processes—the uses of the case study
S A Cropper
Received 30 November 1982, in revised form 28 December 1982
Abstract. This paper considers the methodology of research into the nature of planning processes with particular reference to the use of the case study. The lack of systematic and critical examination of this matter has led generally to the persistence of a tradition of inductive research in which the case study is clearly the dominant method. The use of the case study is frequently justified by reference to its ability to investigate complex processes to the requisite level of detail; indeed, the case study itself, as a method, is often defined in such terms. An alternative characterization of the case study is proposed, based on a consideration of types of evidence. A review of the methodological literature reveals that the justification of the use of the case study purely by reference to the inherent nature of the subject matter is inadequate and that more fundamental matters should and implicitly do determine the choice of research method and the way in which it is used. These should be made explicit. This paper focuses, in particular, on two factors -- the theory of knowledge that underpins research and the state of development of knowledge and theory in the field of research. These together, it is argued, define the research task and suggest the appropriate research method. A number of tasks are identified which challenge the current practice of inductive research and it is argued that the case study will play a different role in each.
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