Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (1):99-120 (2012)

External validity is typically regarded as the downside of case study research by methodologists and social scientists; case studies, however, are often aimed at drawing lessons that are generalizable to new contexts. The gap between the generalizability potential of case studies and the research goals demands closer scrutiny. I suggest that the conclusion that case study research is weak in external validity follows from a set of assumptions that I term the "traditional view," which are disputable at best. In this view, external validity is treated as a matter of mere representativeness. I argue that it is best understood instead as a problem of inference and that the emphasis should be placed on the comparability of the study rather than on the typicality of the case. By making case studies highly comparable, their external validity can be reliably and efficiently assessed and, in this way, their generalizability potential enhanced
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0048393111426683
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,908
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Experimental Localism and External Validity.Francesco Guala - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1195-1205.
Extrapolation, Analogy, and Comparative Process Tracing.Francesco Guala - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (5):1070-1082.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Consequentialism, Deontology and the Morality of Promising.Nikil Mukerji - 2014 - In Johanna Jauernig & Christoph Lütge (eds.), Business Ethics and Risk Management. Springer. pp. 111-126.
Building Middle-Range Theories From Case Studies.Tuukka Kaidesoja - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 78:23-31.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Limitations of Randomized Controlled Trials in Predicting Effectiveness.Nancy Cartwright & Eileen Munro - 2010 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16 (2):260-266.
Case Studies by Numbers: Journalism Ethics Learning.Tom Brislin - 1997 - Journal of Mass Media Ethics 12 (4):221 – 226.


Added to PP index

Total views
41 ( #273,974 of 2,497,739 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #283,405 of 2,497,739 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes