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Epistemological role of case studies in logistics: a critical realist perspective

Epistemological role of case studies in logistics: a critical realist perspective
Epistemological role of case studies in logistics: a critical realist perspective
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop the paradigmatic justification for the use of case studies in logistics research. The argument is based on a critical realist (CR) ontology and epistemology. The current logistics paradigm's flat ontology – based on regularity – is replaced by an ontology emphasising structures and mechanisms underlying actual events in the form of logistics practice and performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The approach takes the form of desk research, conceptual work and theorizing.

Findings – Based on this CR view of the logistics domain it is argued that the justifications for conducting case studies lie in their ability: to reach the causal depth required for revealing the real domain of logistics activities and performance: to reveal the working of mechanisms in loosely coupled structures showing open systems characteristics through a constant alternation between abstract and concrete reasoning and; to include the causal powers and effects of agents' ascribed meanings. Also, it is argued, in contrast with Yin's work which refers to the possibility of generalising case studies, that the justification of case studies not only must refer to their complementary role in research but also must build on groundings that allow this form of research to take a primary role in knowledge creation.

Practical implications – The arguments have direct implications primarily for the scientific justification for case studies in logistics. CR thinking in this respect offers a view in which case studies should be seen as a more legitimate method in logistics inquiries. Second, the paper has implications for further work on the methods of using case studies in logistics: between what types of case studies can one distinguish, and which practical guidelines regarding design and reasoning can be developed based on the CR view?

Originality/value – The paper problematizes current research methodology in logistics. Based on critical realism, it presents a thorough and systematic justification for using case studies as a research approach

case studies, distribution management, epistemology
Aastrup, Jesper
3ad7d86d-f850-4c04-86c5-4f05d23e7590
Halldorsson, Arni
7397eb8b-6866-4e6f-859a-5d4042550417
Aastrup, Jesper
3ad7d86d-f850-4c04-86c5-4f05d23e7590
Halldorsson, Arni
7397eb8b-6866-4e6f-859a-5d4042550417

Aastrup, Jesper and Halldorsson, Arni (2008) Epistemological role of case studies in logistics: a critical realist perspective. 20th Anniversary conference: Beyond Business Logistics: NOFOMA 2008. 04 - 06 Jun 2008. (Submitted)

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop the paradigmatic justification for the use of case studies in logistics research. The argument is based on a critical realist (CR) ontology and epistemology. The current logistics paradigm's flat ontology – based on regularity – is replaced by an ontology emphasising structures and mechanisms underlying actual events in the form of logistics practice and performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The approach takes the form of desk research, conceptual work and theorizing.

Findings – Based on this CR view of the logistics domain it is argued that the justifications for conducting case studies lie in their ability: to reach the causal depth required for revealing the real domain of logistics activities and performance: to reveal the working of mechanisms in loosely coupled structures showing open systems characteristics through a constant alternation between abstract and concrete reasoning and; to include the causal powers and effects of agents' ascribed meanings. Also, it is argued, in contrast with Yin's work which refers to the possibility of generalising case studies, that the justification of case studies not only must refer to their complementary role in research but also must build on groundings that allow this form of research to take a primary role in knowledge creation.

Practical implications – The arguments have direct implications primarily for the scientific justification for case studies in logistics. CR thinking in this respect offers a view in which case studies should be seen as a more legitimate method in logistics inquiries. Second, the paper has implications for further work on the methods of using case studies in logistics: between what types of case studies can one distinguish, and which practical guidelines regarding design and reasoning can be developed based on the CR view?

Originality/value – The paper problematizes current research methodology in logistics. Based on critical realism, it presents a thorough and systematic justification for using case studies as a research approach

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Submitted date: 4 June 2008
Venue - Dates: 20th Anniversary conference: Beyond Business Logistics: NOFOMA 2008, 2008-06-04 - 2008-06-06
Keywords: case studies, distribution management, epistemology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 57921
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/57921
PURE UUID: 467088a3-ef75-4cec-9182-bce80ceed174

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Aug 2008
Last modified: 05 Dec 2018 17:33

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Contributors

Author: Jesper Aastrup
Author: Arni Halldorsson

University divisions

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