Investigating educational issues across Europe (ACROSS Base)
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Method Case study  (SMES TRAINING)
Description "The most basic aim of our research is to understand learning processes occurring in small and medium size companies. This requires a qualitative approach. The analysis of the organisational and cultural contexts in which those processes take place is another of our goals. The case study methodology fits this aim very well. And last but not least, we are interested in researching several variables: each and every "learning topic" identified in our cases can , in fact, be considered a variable. Again, the case study methodology seems the most appropriate choice for this purpose.

... We can say that our research could be placed somewhere between what Stake calls intrinsic, instrumental and collective case studies. Stake himself admits that 'authors and reports seldom fit neatly into such categories' and he sees these categories as heuristic more than functional. In our case, we choose cases with an instrumental purpose and resort to several cases (collective instrumental case studies), but our purpose might be, as well, the understanding of these particular cases as a previous step to any theory development. It is possible that some of the phenomena that we come across in the cases analysed (five or six companies) do not take place in other companies. It is not the purpose of our project to find out, for example, that knowledge is transferred from individuals to groups if frequent meetings are held in all companies. Our purpose is to understand how knowledge transfer happens in a particular case (company) because understanding it can be useful as a first step in developing theory and/or refining previous theory. And it can be useful for other companies that have access to the research findings, allowing them to make use of such findings if relevant and applicable to their situations. Furthermore, it can also be useful when described in a case study for teaching purposes in order to set up a discussion about transfer of knowledge in a company."

(Sauquet, 1999, pp. 13f.; Stake, R.E.; Denzin, N.K.; Lincoln, Y.S. Case Studies. Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, California. Sage, 1994)

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