a case study approach was adopted incorporating the notion of 'open systems'
as the over-arching operational frame of reference for field work, using
'the case' as a unit of analysis. As a starting position 'the case' was
defined as a 'loosely-bounded institutional field in which SMEs operate'.
the point of departure of the research was the definitions of clusters
and learning organisations, and the 'short list' of clusters proposed by
partners. These clusters were subjected to a 'mapping exercise' in order
to , firstly 'testing' the integrity of the clusters selected, and secondly
providing an initial data collection process to shape the understandings
of how the clusters operate.
order to select the most appropriate methodology mix for each case study
(which methods, techniques and instruments to be used and the content of
the instruments to be used) a mapping exercise was conducted. The aim of
the mapping exercise was to place each cluster/network within its socio–economic
a template, that is the common index to be used for the case study reporting
- a standardised 'case study summary' pro forma was elaborated. The template
summarises and links the common research questions, [and] the items to
case studies allow for the exploration and testing of conceptual constructs
as well as the analysis of data derived from observing, documenting and
decoding the behaviours of actors." (Sarcina, 1998, pp. 35f., 51, 55)