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Critical Realism and the Organizational Case Study: A Guide to Discovering Institutional Mechanisms

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve VincentORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This chapter explores organizational case-study research as a means to discover and explain the novel institutional mechanisms they contain. It addresses three problems that CR researchers are confronted with as they develop case-study research. Firstly, the chapter considers the ontological question: ‘what is an organization?’ In tackling this question the chapter extends a framework that categorizes the types of institutional mechanisms which CR researchers can expect to discover through organizational case-study research. Secondly, the chapter considers how researchers might structure their projects to develop novel insights about institutional mechanisms in their research practice. Here, the chapter suggests exploratory, exceptional, and qualifying case studies as three modes of engagement that researchers can employ to ensure or develop novel outcomes. Thirdly, it discusses the issue of data organization and management, specifically, where the researcher’s goal is to explain novel institutional mechanism(s).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vincent S, Wapshott R

Editor(s): Edwards, PK; O'Mahoney, J; Vincent, S;

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Studying Organizations Using Critical Realism: A Practical Guide

Year: 2014

Pages: 148-167

Print publication date: 20/03/2014

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Place Published: Oxford, UK


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780199665525