International Comparative Case Studies: Multiple Methods In Action

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This case sets out the multiple methods deployed in an international comparison of paper mills. The research involved a combination of research methods, including interviews, observations, focus groups, questionnaires, and secondary analysis. The six case studies were designed to probe existing theories concerning the relationship between technological change and skilled work and, in particular, the impact of computerization of paper manufacturing on the job skills of production and maintenance workers. The six case studies were located in Britain, Australia, and the United States, and in each plant, the same set of questions was asked, using the same combination of methods. The case outlines the complex issues surrounding access to the six mills. In particular, it focuses on the vital need to gain the agreement and confidence of both management and trade unions in order to conduct effective fieldwork. There proved to be very little existing research on the topic of paper mills in the social scientific literature. Rather, the case discusses the wide range of non-academic literature that provided useful insights into the global paper industry and the computerization of production that was underway at the time of the empirical research. The case reveals the close interplay of observation and interviews in the case studies. Both methods involve questioning the social world and were intertwined in practice throughout. The use of a semi-structured interview schedule and subsequently a more formalized questionnaire ensured that the questioning followed closely bounded parameters. The case also reveals how existing theories were modified as a result of the findings and applied in revised form in subsequent empirical research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Specialist publicationSAGE Research Methods: Cases
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jan 2019

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Online ISBN: 9781526467041


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