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April 23, 2007

Merry's reflections continued...

The piece that I take away is the importance of a well planned research design. What else can I say about that? To think through what you want to do and how to do it is important. For a dissertation, it is also important to articulate and defend the choices made. After looking at several examples of case studies and then looking back, the theories make more sense and I have pegs on which to hang that information.

Wow, do I ask a lot of questions!

After reading through my original postings I realize how much I have used the blog as a means of posing questions. Rather than outlining my thought process I skipped to the “where I am now? to extend what I’d been reading. I’ve posted questions about ethical considerations, interviewing techniques, how to deal with data, and how to go from fact to theory. This worked fine for me during the semester but it is harder to reconstruct how I got to the questions I posed. Therefore I will try to summarize what I’ve learned this semester rather than repeating all my questions and giving a blow by blow on my current thoughts about them all.

In the end, what I’m taking away from all of this how much good case study is a balancing act full of choices that can impact your study:
From Merry – “This seems to fit the description of a case in that it is a complex phenomenon with a purpose (Stake, 2) and there are many views about what is happening (Stake, 12). This phenomenon can be viewed as a system (Stake, 2), but where the boundaries should be drawn is not clear cut and would shape the case study differently.?

From Grace - “Gerring appears to embrace case studies as existing in both worlds, as both particularizing and generalizing. He says, "Iit seems justifiable for case studies to function on two levels simultaneously, the case itself and some broader class of (perhaps difficult- to- specify) cases" (p.79). Critical to this is identifying the population from which the case is taken, and understanding how the case fits into the larger context. What this speaks to is a well thought out research design -- the one 'law' of research that should never be broken. “

From Bethany- “I see that there are a tremendous number of theoretical approaches that I never even considered using (largely because I didn’t know they existed). So now I’m faced with the possibility of changing my approach which is both daunting and exciting at the same time. It’s amazing that each theoretical framework will result in it’s own unique final product.?

There are many ways that things can be done and still fall into the category of “case study?. On the flipside there are times when the term case study is used inappropriately when the “case? is in fact an example or a device. I believe that all of us are clear on the difference after weeks of practice.

I have found that working on proposing a case study and researching the story have been very helpful exercises. I’ve really enjoyed the different perspectives of our class and I’ve realized just how difficult it would be to write a case study that pleased all of us. After listening to us pick dozens of articles to pieces I think I may have learned more from all of you than the books. When I do my own case studies I will think of all of you. The graphics will have to be well done for Bethany, I will have to prove to Grace that it was in fact a case study, I will need to prove its value and significance to Matt, I will need to be able to justify my methods to Maggie, I will make sure my research is grounded for Merry and I will need to make sure to have an interesting story for Roopa. (I could have used almost anyone’s name for any example, but you get what I mean.)
This sounds like a goodbye post. How depressing ☹ It has been great studying this with all of you – hope everyone learned as much as I did. ☺


It was a good to be reminded of the high points in the readings. The chapters we read held some valuable ideas and tips that had slipped from my consciousness.

Looking back on the postings, I think it may be in some ways easier to focus on the research methods and the case write-ups when studying cases that are outside one's own area of research. When reading research within one's own area of interest, it is easy to get caught up in the content rather than focusing on the details of the writing.

I did not start out with a sceptical view of case studies as many of my classmates did, so I do not feel a shift that way. I am still convinced about the complexity and difficulty of doing good case study research and that I want my case study to be rigorous and significant.

I am also still struggling with what the story is about my case study. I listed several possible approaches early on, and guess that I am still considering which will emerge as the most intriguing.

Last Post?

I am not too sure if we were supposed to post or hold on to our thoughts for class...but having seen a bunch of posts here already, I'll put up a capsule version of my thoughts:

Over the semester (and post looking back at my previous posts), I think I have a better sense of what a case study should be and the logistics of actually building such a study. But beyond the overall sense of clarity (perhaps), reflecting back on my posts and thoughts over the last few months, I find that I am still holding on to some of my opinions, while others have slowly evolved....

For instance, I was really glad to have readd the Eisenhardt peice: "Eisenhardt's piece, in my opinion, is most notable for the practical angle she lends to case study research. For me any research should further knowledge beyond just the boundaries of the specific site of study." I haven't changed my mind about that, though I now think that context specific studies do have a place of importance in building a corpus of knowledge.

About Stake: "By claiming that in an intrinsic case study, the case is of the highest importance and that in an instrumental case study issues are primary is it implied that the case and the issues therein are separate? Can the case be said to be important simply by itself, devoid of issues? Aren’t the issues the very factors that define/set up the case? What about the case is so interesting to the researcher is not for the issues involved therein?"

Looking back at that comment...I am still not very sure about how fine or decisive a line one can draw between a case and the issues although I do how one could parse the case study into case and issues. But perhaps the field of study is also a decisive factor in that, I assume. However, Stake's book is high on my list because of his tabels and charts and lists that help set up the study.

Going back over the selection of case studies that we read for this class, the broad range that was covered has been rather helpful in terms of framing research questions, writing the case narrative, exploring issues, and problems/ issues one could perhaps avoid or anticipate (and take corrective action against) (especially cases such as the IM case, the cases on workplace communication, the Huffman and Kastman-Breuch cases).

Maggie's reflections

“I recall Laura visiting our RHET 8011 last semester and discussing case studies, and I thought she indicated it was a story - it had a beginning and an ending. Her case study about Lotus Marketplace certainly has that. But that seems different than the Stake book, which seemed to indicate a case could be observing a teacher for a week or two. That seems more like a mini-ethnography? So I'll be interested to see how we're using case studies this semester.?

Well, I’m clearer now about cases as bounded phenomenon, but I’m still muddled by the ability of a researcher to set those limits when they are not readily visible. There seems much justification is needed for time limits – when those limits might be something like a convenience for getting a dissertation done. I’ve been further challenged by Stake writing that “events and processes fit the definition (of a case study) less well,? since in rhetoric, we seem to love the event for a case study! So I use that quote in my paper and counter with examples of rhetoric using events as case studies. I guess setting the limits of what you will and won’t study helps bound the case.

Also, I understand case studies as a strategy, not a method, like interviews. That was a pretty major step for me, in the beginning.

“Yin's chapter 5 was super for me. I especially like the setup of general analytic strategies, and the techniques were pretty helpful too.?

I went back to chapter 5 to see what exactly I felt was so helpful about that chapter. I keyed in on the specific analytic techniques that began on page 116. The one that has been most helpful to me as we write our case narratives is time-series analysis, specifically the chronologies (page 125). Chronologies allow us to “trace events over time? as more than “a descriptive event? (125). Although Yin seems to set it up to create a causal relationship (what comes first, must come first), I’ve found it helps me immensely in setting up the context for my case study.

I was really struck by Mary Schuster’s article, and how helpful the contextualizing of medical vs. midwifery model of childbirth was to understanding the birth center. I’ve found in my case narrative that I can’t simply jump into the EWG report without first explaining why it was so unique. I first need to discuss the CDC’s biomonitoring efforts, and so on. While it is more work to understand and summarize this for the reader without getting bogged down in the particulars, it is really useful in helping to make my case unique and (I hope) worth pursuing.

In all, this class has helped me immensely as I look toward dissertating and getting a defensible method ready for a prospectus. Thanks, Laura!

Thoughts on "Storytelling"...

After posting my reflections, I noted Bethany's comment on Stake and "storytelling" and was compelled (ofcourse!) to re-evaluate why I perceive Stake as I do. First, there is a reason I put the word in quotes -- as Stake points out, a case is not a story in the traditional sense. I do believe, however, that a case has a story to tell. It might not revolve around solving a problem, but in my field there are "characters" (the members of the team) and a beginning, middle, and end to the bounded phenomenon or experience. I see now that rather than telling a story in the report, Stake emphasizes choosing a path to reporting a case (chronological, researcher coming to know, and describing different components). Perhaps this all comes down to individual interpretations of storytelling, but I believe the first two paths, chronology and coming to know as, are essentially stories that are told. Whether or not Stake would approve of my attributing "stroytelling" to him, he has influenced my perception of what it is to draw the reader into the study in order to reach empathic understanding with the research. To me, this is sharing the research "story."

A semester of blogs with Yin, Stake, and Gerring

Re-reading my blog postings for semester has been an insightful (and somewhat embarrassing) exercise! I’d forgotten that I kicked things off with a reference to Napolean Dynomite and my love/hate relationship with technology, which doesn’t necessarily bode well given my field of study! Thankfully, I learned how to avoid the technological glitches (type the post in Word FIRST -- then cut and paste it to the blog) and went on to produce some worthwhile reflections that begin to clarify my perspective on case study research.

Admittedly, I began the semester skeptical of the case study approach and not yet convinced that it would be applicable to my dissertation work. My preference was for quantitative research made up of large, representative samples, the “credibility? of statistical significance, and the “reward? of generalizing my results to a larger population. My fixation at the time was the usefulness and application of what was learned. How would knowing a great deal about a particular case ever be useful in a broader context? Gerring’s definition of a case study helped me to appreciate that a single case indeed can be related to a broader set of cases when we understand how it fits into the larger context. In defining a case study as “the intensive study of a single case (a spacially delimited phenomenon observed at a single point in time or over some period of time) where the purpose of that study is – at least in part – to shed light on a lerger class of cases (a population)? (p. 20), Gerring addresses the usefulness factor that I find so important.

Given Stake’s definition of case study research, “We do not study a case (a specific, a complex functioning thing) primarily to understand other cases. Our first obligation is to understand this one case? (p. 4), I wonder how accepting he would be of Gerring’s perspective! What Stake brings to my developing acceptance of the case study approach is the emphasis on inviting the reader into the case through detailed description and “storytelling.? Through “empathic understanding? and “conveying to the reader what experience itself would convey? (Stake, p. 39), the distinct quality of the case approach adds richness to our insights and depth to what we ultimately gain from them. I may not always agree with Stake, but he has opened my eyes to the potential for nuance and detail in empirical research.

Finally, Yin’s detailed protocol further legitimizes the case study approach. I now recognize that it is possible to conduct disciplined yet flexible case research that results in credible new insights and contributes to the ongoing conversations in our field. As the semester winds down and I further analyze the case for the final paper, I clearly see a place for case study research in the study of collaborative processes in virtual teams. In this emergent field of research, it is through such detailed “particularizations? that patterns, relationships, and new meanings will be brought to light.

Matt's Reflections

Somewhat hard to reflect on the early stuff, being that I was going through hell at the time and wasn't around for two seemingly solid classes there (blog posts included). Of course, I can certainly respond to my initial impressions, some of which have changed and some of which have been confirmed during the course. In any case... thanks for the format, Bethany, you trend-setter. ;)

Here is an excerpt from my original post:

"Before I go into my personal perspective on case study research and what I hope to get out of this class, I'd like to share Maggie's confusion regarding the reading and common interpretations of what it is to do "case study" research. Indeed, the Stake text seems to offer a form of research that is nebulous at best: not quite ethnography, and hesitant as to how far one generalizes given the research performed. Dr. Gurak's doctoral research, on the other hand, is something with which I am quite familiar (and not simply because I've read her book for a previous class--it's quite good!). It's simply more journalistic; one uses a narrative to explain the formulation of a certain event and, where necessary, the reactions thereto. These reactions also entail a certain (necessary, I believe) level of interpretation on the part of the author--something to which Dr. Gurak alludes at the end of the chapter and which is carried out in much of her book."

As we have confirmed via countless in-class discussions on the matter, case study research IS nebulous. It is this cloudy, shape-shifting beast that seems to conform to whatever research someone wants to do or whatever kind of generalizations they want to make so long as they are looking at something that is unique and time-bound as an "event." But, as Dr. Gurak wisely noted during the first two class sessions (and citing Yin, I believe), case study research isn't a method so much as a strategy. It can help to legitimize research, yes (and, as I originally and correctly presumed, I find this to be the most valuable part of the class), but it IS a strategy in the sense that you are constantly seeking out the pertinence and interest involved in the workings of this event. Research questions are directed towards extracting meaning out of the event, but they also seem to anticipate a certain flexibility and mutability. And this is why I have found the framing of these case "narratives" so intriguing during the semester: There isn't always a chronology of events presented in the articles surveyed, and there needn't be, but there should be, at the least, a sense of narrative in terms of a.) providing background as to the unraveling or exigence of the event, and b.) the careful *process* by which the researcher himself/herself undergoes evaluation of the artifact/voices examined. It is that process--made explicit or implicit (or, more pertinently, described in a methods section versus made apparent in the findings)--that seems to govern the success of case study more than any of the criteria listed by Yin. Case studies should be refined, yes; interesting, yes; allow for alternative views, yes; unique, of course... but they should illuminate the process, the enlightenment involved in working from within a certain time frame--either an actual time frame in the case of longitudinal studies or even the time frame of the event itself. Particularly useful to us as rhetorical researchers, naturally motivated to seek out specific rhetorical causes and effects, is to keep in mind this sense of a continuum; we need not present the facts as such, but at the least, our questions should be open to the intrinsic nature of the case and the instrumental nature of our use thereof--the way we position ourselves within our research in order to find out how, in a given place, in a given time, human communication has shattered or shone in the way it has.

Sadly, my subsequent post had to do with my presentation, although I did anticipate a sort of "what is a case study?" flavor. In terms of my current case, it was probably a useful exercise in that I managed to come away with a sense of what made case study research important to ME, particularly in terms of navigating a certain time-bound event and extracting from it, not only an intriguing narrative involving a rhetorical shaping of image to reflect ecoconsumerism, but reasons why this is important for such research conducted in the future. Normally, I would be looking at how such an event works to shape the industry; in this case, I am looking at how the context shaped the case in such a way that it can shape future cases.

April 22, 2007

Reflections on Previous Posts

I'm not exactly sure how we're supposed to do this, so I'm just going to give it a shot. Included are the posts that struck me as being the most significant/relevant to our work as a class.

(Original Post)
I found Stake's explanation of writing the report incredibly valuable. His suggestions for organizing the report are new to me, and I predict his box method might work its way into my initial write up/outline. Stake says that "readers should be counted on to do their fair share of the work" (122), but how much is a 'fair share'? How do we know what to give them up front and what to make them 'work' for? I've always thought of a case study as a kind of story, or as a narrative of a phenomenon, so I was surprised to read Stakes argument that "case study reporting generally is not storytelling" (127). After reading his explanation of why a case study isn't a story, I agree with his claim and appreciate the three paths he offers further down on p. 127.

- I don’t think I’ll use Stake’s box method after all, though I think it’s good to know that I have it if I need it. I remember being so shocked that "case study reporting generally is not storytelling" (127), though I’m starting to get over that now and am able to look at these studies more holistically.

(Original Post)
The thing that struck me about this week’s readings is the way that each author/researcher presented alternative views/explanations. Though each case had specific goals to inform the reader of a certain theory, event, or phenomenon, none of them were afraid to say, “I (we) believe this, however, it could also be looked at this way…? I took this as maturity on the part of the researcher; the explanations of alternative reasoning definitely boosted their credibility in my opinion.

- Alternative explanations are still strangely fascinating to me. Thinking that the outcome will be ‘A’ and it turns out to be ‘B’, and it’s ok, you’re not wrong – you just discovered what was really going on. I think I like alternative explanations so much because finding one means that you’ve come to a conclusion, which is a nice thing to do in a case study.

(Original Post)
I’m getting more excited about our mini studies as each week goes by, though I have a number of questions about our approach/getting started. Reading successful cases is one thing, but writing your own is something totally different (I imagine). It would be incredibly helpful for me if we could spend some time in class asking questions that are specific to our project for this class (perhaps we don’t need to do this now, but maybe in a few weeks). I realize that all of our readings are supposed to be informing our mini cases, but it may be helpful to talk more specifically about the cases that we have in mind.

- I am having a lot of fun writing the case narrative, it’s interesting to think about how I would have approached this kind of a paper at the beginning of the semester vs. how I’m approaching it now – I think it shows a lot of growth and new understanding.

(original post)
Yin mentions using software to code, is that what most researchers do now? I’d be interested to hear about your coding experiences and whether or not you’ve found software to be useful or imposing.

- After reading through a number of different perspectives on coding, I think I will give software a chance. If it doesn’t work for something as coding sensitive as grounded theory, I’ll stop and do it all by hand (which is fine with me too).

(original post)
Chapter 2 (Stake) reiterated that nothing is ever as simple as it seems. I always thought of research questions as simply being the jump off for the rest of the study, not realizing how much time one needs to spend evaluating, testing, and reworking them. I guess I was surprised that there are so many ways to approach research question design…

- Research questions are still tough for me. I have so many of them! Narrowing my study down to one question that covers all of the things I’m getting at seems impossible – is there a remedial research question seminar or something? That might be really helpful. But in all seriousness, looking at all of the cases we studied over the semester has helped to show me that you have to just get something down and go for it. A girl could spend her whole life writing and rewriting these things. At some point I think it’s helpful to say – enough is enough! I’ve got to get this thing going.

(original post)
I like how this week's readings armed us with an arsenal of research weapons. Yin and Eisenhardt's practical approach to case study design clearly illustrated what’s normally a very 'messy' process. As a young (and somewhat inexperienced) researcher, blueprints like these are incredibly helpful in getting through the unfamiliarities of case study research.

- I still agree with this – to an extent. I think that having a plan is helpful, and definitely useful initially, though now I see the value in allowing research to evolve organically, and to be smart enough to document how and why things change from the original plan (if they do).

(original post)
The content of our readings extends the introduction to research methodology from Mary Lay Schuster’s 8011 class. In 8011 I was working on a case study that used Glaser and Strauss’s grounded theory methodology, which at the time seemed like the best way to gather and analyze my data. However, when reading both Yin and Gerring (of whom I still have mixed feelings about – he just doesn’t seem relatable) I see that there are a tremendous number of theoretical approaches that I never even considered using (largely because I didn’t know they existed). So now I’m faced with the possibility of changing my approach which is both daunting and exciting at the same time. It’s amazing that each theoretical framework will result in it’s own unique final product. Additionally, I never really considered doing a multiple / cross case study, it didn’t seem necessary – but now I feel like this option needs to be explored since it’s such an important feature for Yin.

- I’m still planning on using Grounded Theory, though I think I now have a better understanding of how difficult it can be. A multiple or cross case study would still be great – but I’m more interested in the particulars of the Red case as it’s own little phenomenon right now.

(original post)
There's something about case studies that I've always (at least for the last several years) found captivating. I like the idea of telling stories through research, and case studies are well suited to narratives that explain experiences which would otherwise be untold and/or lost with time. Like some of you I'm also a bit fuzzy on exactly what a case study should be, but maybe that's one of the reasons so many researchers enjoy using this methodology. It's subjective in a sense that it works for the researcher - it's flexible and dynamic, able to adapt with changing situations, and I like that.

- I think I still feel this way. Which I guess that could be bad – but I think we’ve decided that case studies are often fuzzy and subjective.

(original post)
In 8011 I began to work on a case study about Product Red, a global brand working to alleviate AIDS suffering in Africa. The way Red uses new media to promote 'social justice' is a new concept in branding, and I look forward to the opportunity to further explore the Red case this semester. I feel that I have a good start on this project, but there's still a lot of work to be done before I can arrive at any conclusions (though I guess that's not always the goal of case studies).

- I don’t think that my goal with the Red study is to arrive at conclusions, rather I just want to explore my research questions and see what I come up with. I may reach conclusions, but they might not necessarily be generalizable, which is fine by me.

So I think that's all for now. Tomorrow's discussion should be lots of fun!


April 16, 2007

Looking at the Tebeaux piece

Just wanted to address Merry's questions using her selected article. My overall impression of the Tebeaux piece on distance education was rather unfortunately tainted by my personal bias against the impersonality of distance-ed., but I felt that she addressed the case uniquely, fairly, and despite her own subjective position as instructor and formulator of both the criteria for the class and the criteria of the study, she seemed to cover the bases.

1. As Bethany and others have alluded, the foremost concern is probably that you affect the case as you study it. Not only does this make it hard to discern a chronology of events (if you so choose) that starts outside of your own thesis; you are possibly shaping your design of the "experiment" so as to provide optimal results. Tebeaux does a pretty good job here, although she is somewhat nondescript about her effect as researcher on the students (did they know prior to evaluations? etc.). Although she very briefly glosses over student eval. concerns regarding a lack of access to help and later declares that such courses must be carefully constructed so as to offer students access to the instructor (how so? why did she not do this herself? what lessons were learned here?), I do think she let problems arise as they would normally and tried to take a more objective stake in the reporting of results and "product" as opposed to process (outside of a proposed "model" for distance ed.).

2. Feasible? Sure. The theory and tech have changed, I'm sure, but I'm sure this sort of educational case study is going on in a billion places around the world as we speak. Distance ed. always finds the need to pat itself on the back for being workplace-savvy; this sort of arrangement of an educational case study seems to do just that: The requisite amount of hedging ("Sorry, collaborative learning!") tempered by a real-world application. Sadly, I'm not sure "product-based" education really rings any better nowadays than it did at the time.

3. Obviously, the potential to affect student learning with the study would increase tenfold in a classroom-based setting. On the other hand, such an intra-environmental study would allow for a richer description of student learning "process" and possibly a greater sampling of student voices.

A Most Readable Selection

The Breuch case study is poised and clearly set up as a case study. I appreciate the very accessible (readable) style in which it is written and the clarity with which the case itself and its context is set up. The introductory setting -the-stage exercise and then the narrowing down to the specific issue/at hand I think has been crisply
orchestrated: it is neither wordy nor abrupt. The writing is refreshing and direct. The detailed (and yet succint) discussion of factors that generally contribute to the difficulties students face in client-based/live projects provide a handy background/support that contributes toward the understanding of the case/sepcific situation itself.The use of extensive (unaltered) quotations followed by a close examination of the conversation unpacked the case (for me). Following the case description with suggestions that address specific problems lent a strong application tone to the paper.

The Tabeaux piece was well-written and informative, but perhaps my lukewarm reception of the article was affected by my interest in distance education. However it was interesting to see the way in which the
"basic theory of distance education" was enriched and enhanced to provide a theory specific to tech. writing. The detailed tables and assignment sheets/criteria made the paper more immediate and comprehensible.

Zooming out for a moment, besides the mechanics of the case and the checklist of requirements of what a case study should be, high on my list are clarity and readability, and I look at the Breuch, Tabeaux, Gurak, Huffman, and Zuboff pieces as models as I write the narrative of my own case.

Hopefully coherent ramblings

Special considerations –
I think it would be extremely difficult to research in a F2F class that you currently teaching (I'm interested to hear Lee-Ann's experience with it). It would be difficult to observe if you are attempting to teach and unless you set up some sort of recording device there is no permanent record of the class. Bringing in an outside observer or even having a video camera might introduce other issues since observation can affect behavior. There are also issues of power. Asking a student to complete surveys, be interviewed or take pre or post tests can seemed linked to success in a class, even if it’s not.

I think it would be immensely difficult to successfully critique your own teaching. We all make lesson plans with certain learning outcomes in mind. However, why our lessons work might not be the reason that we might think.
I find each classroom of students has particular personality. Some classes just seem to catch on to concepts at different speeds. My current class seems to really get audience analysis, whereas one of my classes last semester just didn’t get it at all. In April I was still waiting for the proverbial light bulb to turn on. If each class is unique in some way even with the same basic preparation being able to I’m not sure it would be possible for me to articulate what I do differently between one class and the next. Or if it has less to do with my teaching and more to do with skills, knowledge, and attitudes the students have when they walk in the door.

I also wonder about true anonymity. If I were to write an article about student work, giving students pseudonyms, would it really be anonymous? With the amount of group work, peer review, and oral presentations about final projects, I think many students could guess. For example I had a student that in a final presentation titled a slide “My feasibility project – WTF? (and no he was not working with the Wellington Trade Foundation or similarly abbr. co.). Does that mean that I have to eliminate this happening from research if it was applicable?

Tech Comm Classroom Research

I appreciate the relevance of the articles we read for today. Not only do they contribute to the overall body of knowledge in technical communication education, they also inform our day-to-day teaching practices. I believe it is the essential nature of teachers to strive, perpetually, for improved instructional effectives. These studies provide our self-critiques with substantive frames of reference that challenge us to expand our approaches to teaching technical communication.

Kastman-Breuch presents her case in a well-organized and direct fashion. The purpose of the study is clear from the outset and the resulting issues appear fully developed. I appreciate the contribution it makes to technical writing instruction and found myself thinking about how to incorporate some of her conclusions into my own teaching. I do, however, have a number of questions about the study itself. First, I was under the impression that we should not conduct a “formal study? with classes we are actively teaching, yet both Kastman-Breuch and Tebeaux are studying their own classes. Second, I’m curious how clients were found and convinced(?) to participate in the course. There was a commitment of time and effort on their part with no guarantee that the students would produce adequately. Finally, I’d like to know how the interview data was coded. What brought the researcher to the 3 issues ultimately explored in the article. How did they emerge from the data?

In the Tebeaux piece, I appreciate the detailed outline of course content and structure but would’ve liked more details of the actual teaching process. I feel that case study research that “invites? the reader into the story or process has more impact. Also, the research question driving this study didn’t initially jump out at me – is it ‘explaining how a distance technical education course builds on the basic theory of distance education?’ To partially address some of Merry’s questions, I’m concerned about bias creeping into studies of our own classes. While the classes we teach provide a ready-made sample, how objective can we be with our own material and students? Had the Tebeaux piece been in a FtF class, such as Kastman-Breuch’s, there would’ve been more traditional “observations? of what went on in the class. However, I think online exchanges could also be offered as “observations? of what transpired in the class. The only thing missing is the visual piece. I wish Tebeaux had done more of that.

Looking forward to the discussion Merry!!

April 15, 2007

Special considerations in educational case studies

I'm wondering about Merry's question about special considerations for educational case studies. I'll be interested to hear from Lee-Ann about the types of safeguards she needed approved from IRB to study her own students. I think it would be really difficult to study my own class because I always get so caught up in each class and its personality that I think it would be hard to treat them as research subjects. It must have been disappointing for Lee-Ann to see how some of her students failed in the client relationship. She mentions the responsibilities that teachers have to prepare students for client interactions, and I'm wondering if this was an easy or hard thing to recognize, and if she felt that she had let her students down after she recognized this. I would guess that after the study and she had these recommendations, that her course changed quite a bit in terms of preparation, but wouldn't that sort of be challenging to study your own students, and by extension, your own teaching?

Responses to Merry's Questions for April 16

1) As all of us will be teachers, we could at some point do educational case studies. What special considerations do we have to take into account when doing classroom or educational research?

- Aside from the concerns of participant safety and confidentiality, I think that we need to be highly aware of what outcomes our research will have. In any environment, but perhaps especially in educational settings, it’s important that our research work to affect change (at least I think so). Perhaps there are higher expectations for education based research to result in some action, whether it be policy or classroom related. I think this would be a great question for Lee-Ann, it seems like she has a lot of experience with classroom research and the ways that research results in change.

2) What model for an educational case study does Tebeaux present? It is still a feasible model for what we might report today?

- I think that her model is still feasible. Though the technology she’s talking about has changed, I think her approach and her methodology still make a lot of sense. I like that she shared her assignment sheets, and think that her visuals (tables and charts) were actually really helpful in communicating the research findings (it seems that a number of the articles we’ve read over the semester have been less effective with visuals). This article was interesting in a sense that while I was reading it, though I knew it was 12 years old, a lot of the findings and information still struck me as useful/applicable to distance learning today (i.e. the fact that students in the distance learning class received higher grades than the students in the ‘real’ class, though I guess this may not be true and/or generalizable anymore).

3) What differences would occur if the class being studied was classroom based or distance based?

- It would seem that there would be some significant differences in teacher/student interaction, student attitudes in and towards the class material, interaction between and amongst students, and other factors such as jobs, families, and home life that aren’t as big of a deal in distance learning.

4) In class we might try sketching out a plan for an educational or classroom case study. This could be for a course you are teaching or might be teach or for an observation of another person teaching.

- I think this sounds like a great activity, and though classroom research isn’t really my thing, I think we could all benefit from this kind of a plan – is Lee-Ann in on this?

April 9, 2007

The contextualizing of Braun

This is in response to Kim’s question 6 about the telling of the study’s story. I’ll focus on the Salvo, Zoetewey, and Agena article, since I found it most interesting in its use of the narrative that we’ll be writing ourselves. First, I should identify what I thought was the “story? or the case narrative. I thought it was the section titled “Origins of Exhaustive Documentation? that began on page 51. (It also includes "Background' on page 47). I found this narrative absolutely compelling. It was well written, read like a story, and most importantly, it provided the context necessary to understand why on earth Braun would engage in the documentation practices it did. This contextualizing element made the practices understandable. I thought it should have come before the description of the exhaustive documentation, but it’s probably okay where it is.

As a whole, I felt the write-up of this case study was significant, though it seemed a little like, “can you believe these people don’t belong to STC??!? I was left feeling a little unsure if these documentation practices are not really that widespread. I guess I wasn’t sure if this was a unique situation. I’ve seen loads of bad documentation, as I’m sure we all have. But I thought they did a nice job explaining why they chose this company and what makes it unique.

It also felt complete to me. They described what they did, how and why they did it, what they found, and their recommendations. I also appreciated the short anecdote about the town printer whose business is being hurt by Braun’s move to more effective documentation. That showed a real awareness by the authors of the unintended consequences of their consultancy and how Braun is situated in the community. They did not try to paint a completely rosy picture, but acknowledged that some problems arose from the streamlining. This added to the voices heard in the article, which made it feel pretty complete to me.

I also appreciate the reflection on their methodology given on page 47. We keep reading and taking about the importance of recognizing your own bias, and these authors do that quite nicely, if not elegantly.

Now these are case studies!

Another round of articles right up my alley! Thanks for adding to my collection, Kim (especially the extensive list of references accompanying Baskerville!) Also, this week I unequivocally embrace these readings as clear “case studies.?

Before addressing Kim’s articles, I’d like to briefly compare and contrast the Quan-Haase et. al. piece on collaborative IMing with the Cameron/Webster piece I had us read a few weeks ago (it appears they both were published around the same time.) Both used a blend of quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis (survey and interviews), but Quan-Haase’s employment of rich description provides a more substantial and, ultimately, more satisfying analysis of IM use in the workplace than Cameron’s less descriptive emphasis on the quantitative elements of the study. Quan-Haase, et. al.’s use of detailed examples and specific perceptions of those interviewed draws readers into the case, establishing what Stake calls “empathic understanding? and “conveying to the reader what experience itself would convey? (p. 39). The Cameron study would have more impact had she included richer details of how the technology was actually used, as well as quotes from those using the technology. In my opinion, Quan-Haase is an excellent example of how to both conduct and write about case study research in the workplace.

The two articles Kim assigned also provide interesting contrasts. Salvo et. al. includes a detailed narrative of the case, which invests the reader in “the story? while giving context to the documentation issues ultimately facing the company. No doubt Baskerville/Nandhakumar also had a “story to tell? after 2 years of data collection, yet they chose a less descriptive approach. Salvo reported the case chronologically, which lends itself to narrative, and Baskerville reported the case more as components or issue categories presented y the data. I found myself impatient with how long Baskerville took to get to the actual case. Did they really need 3 + pages to define the various concepts and terms? At the same time, I very much appreciated the details provided on data collection – it’s quite similar to the methods I suggest in the case I’m doing for class. After two years of data collection, I can’t help but wonder if this article is just a small piece of the whole pie. Is it likely they looked at multiple aspects of virtual teams (not just trust) during their extensive access to the company?

A final thought on the Baskerville and Nandhakumar article. I have another article written by them in 2001, “Trusting online: Nurturing trust in virtual teams.? The earlier piece is shorter (evidently the study was still ongoing) but some of the interview quotes are exactly the same, as is the description of the virtual teamwork project from which they collected the data. What’s intriguing is that the company described in the earlier piece is described differently than the company in today’s piece. The 2001 article calls the company Xeon with around 90,000 employees and operations in over 100 countries. In the piece we read for today, however, the company is called PCC and has around 50,000 employees and operations in over 70 countries. Both articles appear to be drawing on data from the same study….why would there be such discrepancy in how the company is described? Perhaps it’s simply a reflection of major downsizing?!?

Addressing Kim's Q 6

A belated happy Easter and good Pesach to all.

I just wanted to address the Question 6 (possible "activity" question) with regard to the first provided article, the Quan-Hasse piece. I'm not sure I've read a piece like this before, and a lot has to do with the way it was constructed as a sort of "anti-narrative." A case study, to be sure, since this study fastidiously tracks the use of IM by a particular company (although the generalizability of such research is, even by the end of the article, highly questionable). Remember how we've discussed in the past that headings can inform the direction taken by a study? Hmm, well here's an example of how NOT to do headings. It seems that the writers were so involved in *organizing* the piece that they forgot to actually include any compelling writing about that which they were observing. There are about three mini-lit reviews in this one article alone--material which could have been easily condensed into a single section. By the time you get to the Conclusions section, you've forgotten that you were supposed to be looking for the tale of a particular case. I'm sure it was a good choice to organize this article by topic and not by chronology, but the limited nature of each section undermines a sense of larger continuity--as if they writers are talking *about* the research they did and summarizing it rather than *showing* you what was observed. It's not simply that a human voice approach is missing from this piece; even after reading their ultra-brief methodology section, I have a hard time understanding exactly WHAT they did in order to compile the piece. I'm sure I'm the only one who had this impression (per the usual), but I point this out only to stress that any sort of study--mixed methods, narrative-focused, whatever--requires MORE than summary. It requires a look inside the research performed. It's one thing to throw up some charts and findings and leave the rest open to speculation; it's quite another to convey to the reader--any reader, really--the sense of surprise and interest found by the researchers AS they found it. This need not be chronological; merely stressed with some degree of import.


The Quan-Haase, Cothrel, and Wellman article captured my interest. I like it for its focus on the *use* of technology, which fits in well with my research interests. Such research tell us much more than studies that focus on the capabilities of software. (We've also read some other studies also that address use more than function, like LG's study of online protests.) In the fourth paragraph from the end of the article, the authors write, "...findings suggest that social networks are the key, rather than the specific features of the IM system," which I agree with strongly. (However, I do not necessarily agree with their next sentence that the best use is to get people together f2f. I would state more generally that it is helpful to get acquainted and establish trust without specifying that that must happen in a f2f meeting.)

One point these authors brought up was that proximity and immediacy are not inherently beneficial for every communication. Users in this study sometimes purposely choose a medium that creates distance. Lack of proximity and immediacy is one objection often raised against the use of CMC for education, but these features can characterize CMC communication. It is important that the medium chosen fits the situation and the message. Also important in CMC is to display behaviors--accessibility, awareness, and accountability--that help establish trust and connections. Interdependency of tasks also contributes to the usefulness of CMC.

A couple notes on the study write-up...

1) In the second to the last paragraph the authors note, "Several lessons emerge from this study for the design of collaborative systems." This phrase made me think--perhaps becauseI was thinking of other lessons as I read this study--that many lessons could emerge from a single study depending on the researchers point of view and what they focus on. I was thinking about the lessons for how a company might set up expectations about IM use, and lessons for how tech comm instructors might add IM to a class like 3562 and why that might be a good idea. I was just teaching my speech class that facts do not automatically become evidence. It is up to us as researchers and writers to make the links and show what our research reveals and why it is significant. Others might find something else in it, even so.

2) The paragraph on acknowledgements showed that this research had a lot of support. That is a good lesson for us all to learn!

3) STT seems to me to be a useful tool. I thought it might be interesting to talk about how it might be expanded, as the authors suggest, to include power, social relations, and organizational norms.

Readings for class on April 9th

FYI - I'm sick and won't be in class tonight. Apologies for the absence.

I read the portion of the Racine dissertation that’s available on WebCT and thought it was great. I genuinely enjoyed reading the writing, and thought that Racine’s approach was very straightforward without being too simple. She does a nice job of setting up her methods and reasoning, and does a fine job of explaining why she didn’t consider or include certain things. Racine identifies two different goals/audiences which struck me as an act of genius – why not let one paper/thesis/dissertation work for more than one group or purpose; I think her approach to this worked really well. I highly recommend this chapter…

The Quan-Haase study was interesting to read even though we’ve seen a couple of cases along these lines earlier in the semester. A couple of things worth noticing in this study are the way that the use of semi-structured interview questions is framed, and then the actual introduction of the questions themselves. This seems like such a nice little package, again, very straightforward, but not overly simple.

While the Baskerville study offered some interesting insights, I was largely turned off by all of the table/chart/formula information. Though I’m sure that this kind of data is useful, it made me want to stop reading (perhaps I’m just not the ‘ideal reader’ for this piece). While I can’t say that I got as much out of this study as I did from the other readings, it was helpful in adding some variety to the texts for this week.

The Salvo et al. article was compelling in the way that it talked about the motivations of the Braun employees. The work done at this factory was seen as “more than labor for wages?, which is pretty great to hear, and something that most employees (probably) don’t feel. The commitment from all of the team members was interesting to read about, as was the lack of formal education on the tech writers’ end. I also thought that the visuals were overwhelming in a good way; they made me see the scope of the confusion which helped me, as a reader, to better understand the problem plaguing this corporation. Lots of good stuff in here

April 7, 2007

Some questions to ponder

I apologize for the delay in posting the questions but my meds didn’t kick in fast enough to prevent a mind-numbing headache yesterday.

I would like to direct our conversation to some more application-based questions where our critique might give us some ideas on what we might like to try or avoid in our own writing of case studies. (This is perhaps an ambitious task, so I ask for your assistance in coming up with helpful questions for all of us.)

These are some questions that I have from reading the texts:

Although Baskerville & Nandhakumar’s study is conducted over a 2 yr period, does it fit Yin’s (41-42) rationale for using a longitudinal study or does it fit another rationale better?

Did B & N appropriately generalize in a petite way where knowledge is refined (Stake 7)? Were their interpretations well supported by their data?

Our three articles were published in Technical Communication, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, and IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
• Did there appear to be any justification of method in any of these studies? If so, how did the authors justify the use of case study?
• Is justification of method necessary for our own work?

We have read case studies on the topics of Virtual Teams and Instant Messenger before which gives us a great opportunity to compare and contrast.
• What was done particularly well and what could be improved in each study?
• What lessons can we learn that we could apply to our own writing of a case?

The Salvo, Zoetewey and Agena study claims to be influenced by Yin and Walsham. Would this study be exemplary in Yin’s opinion?

Since we are working on writing our own stories for our case studies, I would like us to evaluate just the telling of each study’s story (its vignette). Is there any thing we can glean that might be useful for us to emulate or avoid? (This will likely turn into a class activity.)

• Was the story compelling/convincing?
• Was it significant?
• Was it complete?
• Did it appropriately make use of voices when appropriate? Did it need more examples? Less?

Looking forward to our class discussion Monday.


Some questions to ponder

I apologize for the delay in posting the questions but my meds didn’t kick in fast enough to prevent a mind-numbing headache yesterday.

I would like to direct our conversation to some more application-based questions where our critique might give us some ideas on what we might like to try or avoid in our own writing of case studies. (This is perhaps an ambitious task, so I ask for your assistance in coming up with helpful questions for all of us.)

These are some questions that I have from reading the texts:

1. Although Baskerville & Nandhakumar’s study is conducted over a 2 yr period, does it fit Yin’s (41-42) rationale for using a longitudinal study or does it fit another rationale better?

2. Did B & N appropriately generalize in a petite way where knowledge is refined (Stake 7)? Were their interpretations well supported by their data?

3. Our three articles were published in Technical Communication, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, and IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
• Did there appear to be any justification of method in any of these studies? If so, how did the authors justify the use of case study?
• Is justification of method necessary for our own work?

4. We have read case studies on the topics of Virtual Teams and Instant Messenger before which gives us a great opportunity to compare and contrast.
• What was done particularly well and what could be improved in each study?
• What lessons can we learn that we could apply to our own writing of a case?

5. The Salvo, Zoetewey and Agena study claims to be influenced by Yin and Walsham. Would this study be exemplary in Yin’s opinion?

6. Since we are working on writing our own stories for our case studies, I would like us to evaluate just the telling of each study’s story (its vignette). Is there any thing we can glean that might be useful for us to emulate or avoid? (This will likely turn into a class activity.)

• Was the story compelling/convincing?
• Was it significant?
• Was it complete?
• Did it appropriately make use of voices when appropriate? Did it need more examples? Less?

Looking forward to our class discussion Monday.


April 2, 2007

Vignettes and quantitative data

Apropos Bethany's question on whether the 2 cases would be more appealing if they had vignettes, I am not too certain how a vignette could be introduced in the cases. Firstly what would the vignette center on? ...a wikipedia incident, edition, contributor....? IN the Hellsten piece too, it might be rather difficult to construct a vignette that grabs the reader's attention, sets the stage, and furthers the unveiling of the case study. While I admit that a vignette would draw me in to explore and/or read the case, it does not seem like a startegy that is uniformly applicable.

I must admit I did not find the Frankfoods case particularly thrilling or gripping but the semantic visualizations spoke to me. (My eyes were beginnign to glaze over the textual descriptions, actually). The data and data analysis framed by the theoretical concepts in the Pfeil et al case made for interesting reading even though the overarching issue of research into Wikipedia and wikis in general is not my cup of tea. And the presence of quantitative data helps indicate trends (i am always looking for trends and numbers to extrapolate...perhaps that is my biased perspective).

A few notes on Hellsten and Pfeil et al

1. On comparing the two articles
The two articles were similar in that they both studied frequency of communication instances on the web, though different types of instances.

Both also began with a discussion of theory. Pfeil et al never did develop a story about their data. They presented a lot of measures and statistics and reported trends. Hellsten’s article included more story, and reported counts rather than trends.

4. Model readers for both articles include researchers. Pfeil et al seemed to be aiming more directly at researchers---of wikis, technology, and/or rhetoric. They were not interested in reaching gamers, or those interested in the topic of games. In contrast, Hellsten’s article seemed to reach out to a broader audience in that people interested in Frankenfoods might be interested in reading their findings and interested in how metaphors are/could be used to further their message.

5, 6. I liked the data presented in the Pfeil et al article. It was informative and easily understandable. I don’t think that vignettes would add a lot to this study unless it was rewritten for another forum. The data and statistical interpretation would not be supported by vignettes. Interpretations could be communicated through the use of vignettes and that might be appropriate in another article, but I do not think the addition of vignettes to this article would be an enhancement. Hellsten had more specific examples, but these were not developed as vignettes. In that article, further development of some examples might be interesting and acceptable.

9. Wikipedia is a tool created for collaborative work and the definition is from the creator of the tool. So, the use of a wikipedia definition has face validity. The authors may have also been seeking to legitimate their object of study. The use of wikipedia did not seem gratuitous. The authors bolster that definition with citations from other CSCW and wiki collaboration theorists.

Responses to two of Bethany's questions

Good afternoon class.
I decided to answer some questions that Bethany posed that appealed to me. I have posted the question so my answers make sense :-)

4. Who are the ‘model readers’ for these two cases (Stake 126)? Are they different for each study?

It would seem to me that every piece of writing demands its own consideration of audience and examination for model readers.

I have to admit that I wasn’t Hellsten’s ‘model reader’. Although I found some of her methods of data collection interesting (I’m wondering if I might be able to get my hands on that Issue Crawler), I simply didn’t find issue of frankenfood or the article particularly engaging. Perhaps people that are interested in word etymologies and lifecycle of a word would be model reader.

The Pheil et al. article seemed to have a larger number of potential model readers. Those interested in wiki use and development, wikipedia specifically, cultural differences, or design implication for international audiences, all might be interested in this article.

5. Do we see any vignettes in this case? Would / do the presence of vignettes make this case more compelling?

In both Hellsten and Pheil et al. there are no vignettes. I don’t think that vignettes are appropriate in either case. With Pheil et al., wikipedia is a form of asynchronous communication it seems that examples (and they did give a few screen shots) serve the purpose of drawing the reader in. Can you imagine a vignette –

“KRolfson sits down at his computer and starts reading the gaming wikipedia page in Dutch. Grumbling he logs in to edit the page. He types furiously with two fingers until at last he leans back in his computer chair and takes a draw on his cigarette. Satisfied, he saves his work.?

The Hellsten piece gives us appropriate background and gives some great charts and graphs that really make the piece come alive. I just think that it is difficult to have a vignette about online behavior. It is easier to show than to write up a little descriptive piece like Stake recommends.

I hope everyone had a productive weekend. I look forward to reading some of the final drafts of proposals.

Responding to a few of Bethany's questions

First of all, I want to say that I'm sorry that my presence here is so sporadic. You'll most likely see me respond to previous weeks in upcoming posts titled something along the lines of "backtracking."

A few random thoughts on the Pfeil et al. piece: I thought this was a very simple, albeit very interesting example of how to successfully intertwine hard, empirical qualitative data that has been coded in such a way that, rather than inundating the reader with copious cross-comparisons and methods that make grandiose ties to larger social questions, simply feeds back into the initial theories and the "history" of the case itself (in this case, Wikipedia).

3. It's interesting that you've aligned this article against Stake's seven sections model, because I feel that, for the most part, it's a pretty close correlation. The only exception to this would seem to be the closing "assertions" section: It's not that such a section is absent (the requisite "results" section is provided), but rather that it is skimpy and barely feeds back into the sense of "time and place." It simply makes very general, predictable conclusions about the precarious, interrelated nature of culture and technology. This is tiny even compared to the subsequent section on limitations (which arguably could have preceded a longer results section).

6. With my humanities background, I'm certainly Mr. Qualitative when it comes to such research, but being that I spend a lot of time looking at game studies research--the vast majority of which IS quantatative--I have certain ideals for such research. Again, I like quant. research that is not simply numbers for the sake of numbers; IMO, the best kind is that which always thoroughly introduces and contextualizes data in such a way that it feeds back into the overarching story. I think the Wikipedia case is such an example.

7. Another interesting question; I hadn't even considered the graphics themselves. By "graphics," I'm assuming you don't simply mean that which is visualized in a manner set apart from the rest of the text, but all kinds of charts, tables, etc. Well, with regard specifically to the Wikipedia article, I think that the graphics have their place--that is, they appeal to those who are looking for such data in an easily recognizable form or a form pertinent to their own scholarship--but to me, the more important parts are the ones that briefly (and adequately, I must say) summarize the findings and the interrelatedness of the data coded.

Case Studies on the Web

I found the subject or issue of concern in each of the studies we read for today quite interesting! I especially appreciated the Wikipedia piece, Bethany. Hofstede, communication technologies, and intercultural collaboration are right up my alley! In this posting, I will consider if these two articles actually are case studies.

Once again, I’m wonder if the two really are case studies when comparing them to other studies we’ve read for class. It’s interesting to note that neither article claims to be a “case study.? Of the two, the metaphor study appears closer to a case in the style of Yin. While it doesn’t ask specific questions, it does clarify the nature of the study by clearly identifying a purpose. The unit of analysis, the Frankenfood metaphor, is evident, and the methods for analyzing the changes in its use over time were clearly identified. The study is bounded in that only sites between 1992 and 2002 were examined. I believe the specific metaphor is the “case? in the study (as opposed to the websites themselves) and it is an intrinsic or inductive examination of what happens to it during this time period.

According to both Gerring and Yin, a case study can be quantitative, yet I have a hard time seeing the Wikipedia study as a true case study, even when using Gerring as a guide. It establishes itself as exploratory research and the question it seeks to answer is quite clear: How, if at all, do differences in the cultural backgrounds of Wikipedia contributors influence their behavior? But the hypotheses threw me. According to Gerring, exploratory studies are hypothesis generating. If you begin with hypotheses the study is “confirmatory? and hypothesis testing. Based on Gerring’s definition of various case study types, I believe this would be a “Typical? case looking for causal relationships among the variables of cultural dimension and Wikipedia behaviors. The study looked at a specific page (site history up to June 2005) under a specific topic (games) for each language examined, so the boundaries appear clear. What’s not clear to me is the actual case that’s being investigated. Is it the Wikipedia game page, is it behaviors on Wikipedia, is it the cultures represented? I look forward to exploring this more fully in class – perhaps I’m overlooking something here.

Regardless if it’s a case study or not, I appreciated the purpose of the Wikipedia study and wished it had examined more than one topic page and a greater cross-section of cultures (with greater variation in the cultural dimensions). Of course, it would’ve greatly complicated the researchers’ jobs, but larger samples might’ve allowed for more generalizing.

April 1, 2007

JCMC articles

Good questions, Bethany! I'll answer a couple that I found really interesting. I apologize in advance for not being able to attend Monday's class. We have no day care this week (Montessori spring break), so I'm staying home with my son. To the questions:

(2) It's interesting to examine the Hellsten and Pfeil, Zaphiris, and Angis cases in light of the definitions of ‘case study’ by Gerring, Stake, and Yin. Gerring says that a case study should "at least in part - ...shed light on a larger class of cases." I think the PZA article is trying to do this by examining "games," but the clear indication seems to be that they think it would match up with other entries. I think this is the case because they don't spend a ton of time discussing "games" specifically, in fact, it hardly seemed to give the article context at all. This lack of context (e.g., what do games mean in the cultures of Japan, France, etc) seems to disqualify it from Yin's definition of examining something "within its real-life context." But PZA seems like it would fly with Stake due to its particularization and boundedness.

(5.) Wow, would I have appreciated some vignettes. I thought this would be really interesting, but I felt they were completely divorced from their context and the lack of narrative (though Hellsten was better) made it a little dry. Perhaps it's the rainy Sunday afternoon here, but I kept re-reading to find the context/narrative that I was sure I was missing.

(6.) The abundance of quantitative data was a bit much for me. The Hofstede quant stuff was a bit much for me; I can't believe numbers can mean that much for an entire culture, though the authors do seem to acknowledge this. For articles dealing in language, I thought that more qualitative data would have made a bit richer article.

Sorry again I can't be there tomorrow.