Skip to Main Content

CBS PhD School logo

Case-Study Approaches to Theory Building - April 2022 - 5 ECTS

Date and time

Monday 4 April 2022 at 09:00 to Friday 8 April 2022 at 16:00

Registration Deadline

Monday 4 April 2022 at 09:00


Room TBA, Campus TBA, 2000 Frederiksberg Room TBA
Campus TBA
2000 Frederiksberg

Case-Study Approaches to Theory Building - April 2022 - 5 ECTS

Event Description

Jasper Hotho, Department of International Economics, Government and Business, CBS & Verena Girschik, Department of Management, Society and Communication, CBS.

Course Coordinator
Jasper Hotho, Department of International Economics, Government and Business, CBS & Verena Girschik, Department of Management, Society and Communication, CBS. 

The course is designed to be accessible, interesting, and useful for PhD students at different stages: from early-stage PhD students to those close to completion and/or entering the publishing process. The course does not require previous knowledge of or experience with qualitative research. The sessions are tailored towards students who aspire to publish in and review for highly ranked international journals.

The course aims to equip students with the ability to read, write and evaluate papers applying qualitative methodologies, and to understand how qualitative research and case-study research in particular can contribute to theory building. Much attention will be paid to the importance of the alignment between research question, qualitative approach, research design, and opportunities for theory development — a crucial issue when seeking to publish qualitative research. The course does not aim to provide an exhaustive overview of qualitative methods, nor will it cover more specific approaches to data collection and analysis. As a result, this course complements courses that dive into specific methods.

Course content
For details, see below under ‘Lecture plan’.

Teaching style
The course is organized as a five-day intensive workshop, consisting of eight sessions. Each session combines an introductory talk with in-class assignments and discussion. Students are expected to prepare for each session by reading the assigned literature and participate actively. The course also offers opportunities for students to discuss their own projects. The course closes with a review assignment in which students are challenged to evaluate a paper and to offer constructive suggestions for its improvement. The review should be around 5 pages (max. 1500 words).

Lecture plan
Day 1: Qualitative research: Alternative approaches 

Session 1: Introduction
Monday, 09.30—12.00 
Facilitators: Verena Girschik & Jasper Hotho

Session 1 provides an introduction to the content, and structure of the course, the value of qualitative research to theory development, and the challenges of theorizing from qualitative data. Students will also have the opportunity to briefly introduce and discuss their projects. The session ends with a discussion of the role of the research question in the qualitative research process.

Topics include:
• An introduction to the course
• Introduction of student projects
• Exercise: Evaluating research questions

• Van Maanen, J., Sørensen, J. B., & Mitchell, T. R. (2007). The interplay between theory and method. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1145-1154.
• Gephart R.P. (2004), Qualitative research and the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, 47(4), 454-462.

Session 2: Alternative approaches to qualitative research
Monday, 13.00—16.00
Facilitator: Jasper Hotho

Session 2 introduces different approaches to doing qualitative research. We will practice how to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriateness of these approaches, and to recognize these approaches in action.

Topics include:
• Alternative approaches to qualitative research in management research: Eisenhardt, Gioia, and beyond
• Theory-method fit in qualitative research
• Exercise: Recognizing and evaluating alternative approaches in practice. 

• Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532-550. 
• Langley, A., Smallman, C., Tsoukas, H., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Process studies of change in organization and management: Unveiling temporality, activity, and flow. AMJ, 56(1), 1-13.
• Langley, A., & Abdallah, C. (2011). Templates and turns in qualitative studies of strategy and management. Research Methodology in Strategy and Management, 6, 201-235.
• Gehman, J., Glaser, V. L., Eisenhardt, K. M., Gioia, D., Langley, A., & Corley, K. G. (2018). Finding theory–method fit: A comparison of three qualitative approaches to theory building. Journal of Management Inquiry, 27(3), 284-300.

Day 2: Designing qualitative research 

Session 3: Designing qualitative research
Tuesday, 09.30—12.00
Facilitator: Jasper Hotho

Session 3 introduces students to central elements of case-study research designs, including case selection and the selective introduction of variance. The session also highlights the importance of congruence between research question and research design.

Topics include:
• Qualitative research designs: Single, comparative, and multiple case studies
• Case selection strategies
• Ensuring congruence between research question and research design
• Exercise: Evaluating a qualitative research proposal

• Patton, M.Q. (2002). Purposeful sampling. In: M.Q. Patton. Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 230-246.
• Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuasion with case studies. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 20-24.
• Ragin, C. (1987). The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. Berkeley: University of California Press (pp. 34-52; Case-oriented comparative methods). 

Discussion of students’ projects  (Part I)
Tuesday, 13.00—16.00
Facilitators: Jasper Hotho & Verena Girschik

Day 3: Evaluating qualitative research / Moving from findings to theory

Session 4: Evaluating qualitative research
Wednesday, 09.30—12.00
Facilitator: Verena Girschik

Session 4 focuses on the evaluation of qualitative research designs. Students are introduced to the meaning of rigor in qualitative research designs, and some of the ways in which rigor can be evaluated.

Topics include:
• Rigor in qualitative research 
• Exercise: Evaluating the alignment between research question, approach and design

• Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative inquiry, 16(10), 837-851.
• Gioia, D. A., Corley, K. G., & Hamilton, A. L. (2013). Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: Notes on the Gioia methodology. Organizational Research Methods, 16(1), 15-31. 
• Welch, C., & Piekkari, R. (2017). How should we (not) judge the ‘quality’ of qualitative research? A re-assessment of current evaluative criteria in International Business. Journal of World Business, 52(5), 714-725.

Session 5: Theorizing from qualitative findings
Wednesday, 13.00—16.00
Facilitator: Jasper Hotho

Session 5 introduces students to different types of theory and theorizing. We also discuss different forms of theory development and how these are enabled by different qualitative approaches.

Topics include:
• What is theory?
• Forms of theorizing
• The opportunities for theorizing enabled by alternative qualitative approaches
• Exercise: Theoretical models

• Davis, M. S. (1971). That's interesting! Towards a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology of phenomenology. Philosophy of the social sciences, 1(2), 309-344.
• Sutton, R. I., & Staw, B. M. (1995). What theory is not. Administrative Science Quarterly, 371-384.
• Weick, K. E. (1995). What theory is not, theorizing is. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 385-390.
• DiMaggio, P. J. (1995). Comments on" What theory is not". Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 391-397.
• Cornelissen, J. (2017a). Editor’s comments: Developing propositions, a process model, or a typology? Addressing the challenges of writing theory without a boilerplate. Acad. of Man. Review, 42(1), 1-9.

Day 4: Qualitative research: Contributing to theory

Session 6: Constructing a theoretical contribution
Thursday, 09.30—12.00
Facilitator: Verena Girschik

In session 6, we will look at alternative ways in which a theoretical contribution may be constructed. We will focus on the iterative process of going back and forth between data and theory and discuss alternative ways in which contributions may be constructed.
Topics include:
• Moving from findings to theory—and back
• Alternative ways of constructing theoretical contributions
• Exercise: Identifying, comparing and evaluating alternative ways of constructing a contribution

• Eisenhardt, K. M., & Graebner, M. E. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 25-32.
• Langley, A. (1999). Strategies for theorizing from process data. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 691-710. 
• Klag, M., & Langley, A. (2013). Approaching the conceptual leap in qualitative research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(2), 149-166.

Discussion of students’ projects   (Part II)
Thursday, 13.00—16.00
Facilitators: Jasper Hotho & Verena Girschik

Day 5: Writing and publishing qualitative research

Session 7: Writing up qualitative case-study research
Friday, 09.30—12.00
Facilitator: Verena Girschik

Session 7 focuses on the challenges of condensing rich qualitative findings into a concise and convincing manuscript, and the importance of writing to convince reviewers of the credibility of qualitative research findings in the absence of significance levels, effect sizes, and measures of explained variance.

Topics include:
• The challenges of writing up qualitative research
• Establishing credibility through writing
• Exercise: Writing qualitative research

• Ashcraft, K.L., & Ashcraft, C.S. (2014). Motifs in the methods section: Representing the qualitative research process. In E. Jeanes & T. Huzzard (eds.). (2014). Critical Management Research: Reflections from the Field (pp 155-172). London: Sage.
• Golden-Biddle, K., & Locke, K. (1993). Appealing work: An investigation of how ethnographic texts convince. Organization Science, 4(4), 595-616.
• Locke, K., & Golden-Biddle, K. (1997). Constructing opportunities for contribution: Structuring intertextual coherence and “problematizing” in organizational studies. Academy of Management Journal, 40(5), 1023-1062.
• Pratt, M.G. (2009) For the Lack of a Boilerplate: Tips on Writing Up (and Rewriting) Qualitative Research, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 52, No. 5, 856–862.

Session 8: Editor and author perspectives on publishing qualitative research
Friday, 13.00—16.00
Facilitators: Jasper Hotho & Verena Girschik

The course ends with a discussion between the instructors and participants of the course on the challenges of getting qualitative research published in leading academic journals in the fields of organization and management. The instructors will draw on their experience as authors, reviewers, and editors of qualitative research papers.

Topics include:
• Reviewing qualitative research manuscripts
• Expectations of reviewers, authors and journals
• Handling reviewer comments

• Cornelissen, J. P. (2017b). Preserving theoretical divergence in management research: Why the explanatory potential of qualitative research should be harnessed rather than suppressed. Journal of Management Studies, 54(3), 368-383.
• Patriotta, G. (2017). Crafting papers for publication: Novelty and convention in academic writing. Journal of Management Studies, 54(5), 747-759.

Learning objectives
This course is designed for doctoral students in organization and management, broadly defined, who are interested in understanding qualitative approaches to theory building. The course places particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on theory building from qualitative cases.



Start date

End date




Course Literature
See lecture plan above.

Event Location

Click to view the event location on Google Maps >

Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475

Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475