Having to justify the value of using case studies in research gets quite wearing….

As an interpretivist researcher I invariably feel I have to justify the case study approach as a lesser way of accessing knowledge.  I was therefore pleased to see Oxford University’s Professor  Bent Flyvbjerg’s LinkedIn posting on this topic, ‘Misunderstanding No. 1 about Case Studies’ .

This statement presents the crux of his argument:

Common to all experts, however, is that they operate on the basis of intimate knowledge of several thousand concrete cases in their areas of expertise. Context-dependent knowledge and experience are at the very heart of expert activity. Such knowledge and expertise also lie at the center of the case study as a research and teaching method; or to put it more generally, still: as a method of learning. Phenomenological studies of the learning process therefore emphasize the importance of this and similar methods: it is only because of experience with cases that one can at all move from being a beginner to being an expert. If people were exclusively trained in context-independent knowledge and rules, that is, the kind of knowledge which forms the basis of textbooks, they would remain at the beginner’s level in the learning process. This is the limitation of analytical rationality: it is inadequate for the best results in the exercise of a profession, as student, researcher, or practitioner.’

He says much more. Read it and see for yourself.


Have a productive day,


Writing several papers at once….

I have quite a few writing projects on the go at the moment. Ten at the last count. Too many.

Three are papers accepted for international conferences, all with different co-authors. Two of those are with colleagues I have never previously written with, one is with a doctoral student on his thesis work and another colleague. Building such relationships takes time, effort and needs a lot of trust, maturity and understanding between you all.

The papers are at different stages…First draft with too many concepts to submitted and waiting for reviewers/editors response to the re-vamping of a paper rejected from one journal to ‘fit’ the position of another journal. Again, too many?

Finally, they are all on different topics. Gamification, storytelling and fiction-science; the global motility of talent, experiences of the translator in a talent management masterclass….at least they all have one core focus…the lived, meaningful experience of the person practising their craft in a contemporary organisation.

I enjoy all the writing stages now, though. My favourite part at the moment is reading the literature for the literature review. I’ve begun writing by hand now to make sure I reduce the amount of time spent on a computer/ipad. It’s not good for us.


Using several organisers for writing

I have just read Filohacker’s (Filohack.com 14March, 2014) great blog on using leather organisers for the writing process which provides a fascinating insight into the sociomaterial ways of working with a set of what is essentially writer’s notebooks. I agreed with his comment that notebooks just don’t work for me. I can’t stand cheap notepads and the btter ones seem to require beautifully crafted, world-class quality writing. Look at this Smythson notebook and you will understand my point:


I commented on Filohacker’s blog:

Excellent article. I firstly like the notion of ‘sentient feel’ where you keep with the beauty of the croc material. One can just imagine the pleasure you get just from picking up each file. This must certainly be one effective way of getting over procrastination to write. Secondly, the ‘side by side’ method looks a good one. Through this you can see an advance in your ideas, as well as holding on to the original ideas just in case. Thirdly, the cognitive trick of using different coloured pens appeals. Overall, I am reminded of Professor Harry Scarbrough’s notion of ‘knowledge in bits’, where, as human beings, we gather snippets of knowledge on particular themes and these build to form our framework of understanding on a theme. You certainly seem to have cracked this! I had one question…where do you write?

Looking forward to his reply.

Writing deadlines

My fixation today has been about writing deadlines…my own and those of my professional doctoral students. My own because I am a week late returning reviews of other academics’ journal articles and others because missing deadlines on doctoral documents can have a catastrophic impact on the eventual result….even to the extent of missing the final ‘drop dead date’ for doctoral submission of the final document(s).

Here are some comments provided from Richard Nordquist entitled ‘Writers on writing’ (http://grammar.about.com/b/2013/04/03/writers-on-writing-thank-god-for-deadlines.htm?nl=1)

I know that a deadline can be both life and death to a piece of writing and that death is sometimes preferable. It depresses me utterly to see children being forced to finish a piece of writing when they’re sick of it, lacking in inspiration, and getting negative feedback in writing conferences. No one forces me to finish my writing, and I’m a published writer, so why should any writer be ruled in such a manner by someone who doesn’t own the writing anyway?
(Mem Fox, Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993)

I do not know any writers who write without deadlines, or who write at all before there is a self-imposed or external deadline. There must be some, but they are few indeed. Whenever I stop giving myself a deadline–a minimum number of pages by a certain hour on a certain day–then I stop writing. Without deadlines I do not write.
(Donald Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing. Houghton Mifflin, 1985)

Anything with a deadline is automatically more important than something without.
(Rowena Murray, Writing for Academic Journals, 2nd ed. Open University Press, 2009)

If you work alone, you really need to want to write because it calls for self-motivation . . .. I once read that 80 percent of writers need a deadline and only 20 percent don’t. If you are writing on spec, without a deadline, you’d better want it.
(Aline Soules, “Networking and Serendipity in Publishing.” Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook, ed. Carol Smallwood. American Library Association, 2010)

Deadlines and money. If I didn’t have a deadline and never received payment, I wouldn’t write at all.
(Fay Weldon, interviewed by Alan Stevens. MediaMasters: Insider Secrets from the Big Names of Broadcast, Print and Social Media, ed. by Alan Stevens and Jeremy Nicholas. Bookshaker, 2009)

One huge aid to the writing-rewriting dynamic is the deadline. It forces savage action. Like form or design, the deadline is not a prison to creation. It offers a promised release from the self-created prison of indolence, of not writing.
(David Morley, The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Thank God for deadlines. . . . You need a deadline and a beastly editor who insists that you keep it.
(Ann Haymond Zwinger, “Field Notes and the Literary Process.” Writing Natural History: Dialogues with Authors, ed. by Edward G. Lueders. University of Utah Press, 1989)

Carole Tansley