Case study as a research strategy: Investigating extreme weather resilience of construction SMEs in the UK

Wedawatta, GSD, Ingirige, MJB and Amaratunga, RDG (2011) Case study as a research strategy: Investigating extreme weather resilience of construction SMEs in the UK. In: ARCOM doctoral workshop, International conference on building resilience, July 2011, Kandalama, Sri Lanka.


Determining an appropriate research methodology is considered as an important element in a research study; especially in a doctoral research study. It involves approach to the entire process of a research study, starting from theoretical underpinnings and spanning to data collection and analysis, and extending to developing the solutions for the problems investigated. Research methodology in essence is focused around the problems to be investigated in a research study and therefore varies according to the problems investigated. Thus, identifying the research methodology that best suits a research in hand is important, not only as it will benefit achieving the set objectives of a research, but also as it will serve establishing the credibility of the work. Research philosophy, approach, strategy, choice, and techniques are inherent components of the methodology. Research strategy provides the overall direction of the research including the process by which the research is conducted. Case study, experiment, survey, action research, grounded theory and ethnography are examples for such research strategies. Case study is documented as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. Case study was adopted as the overarching research strategy, in a doctoral study developed to investigate the resilience of construction Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK to extreme weather events. The research sought to investigate how construction SMEs are affected by EWEs, respond to the risk of EWEs, and means of enhancing their resilience to future EWEs. It is argued that utilising case study strategy will benefit the research study, in achieving the set objectives of the research and answering the research questions raised, by comparing and contrasting with the alternative strategies available. It is also claimed that the selected strategy will contribute towards addressing the call for improved methodological pluralism in construction management research, enhancing the understanding of complex network of relationships pertinent to the industry and the phenomenon being studied.

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