Case studies home

FAO is an organization focused on technical know-how in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. However, almost always we work with people and a thematic area. The interaction is complex and bear far beyond technical know-how.  

The case study approach has its roots in social science, see fact box below. It has been seen as useful also for FAO and many case studies have been produced over the years.

The current case study module can be seen as a working prototype for a wider application of the concept. It has been developed for case studies on sustainable forest management, which obviously has a strong human aspect. Much of the data is common between thematic areas, while a few are unique to forestry. By studying the work done here, someone being interested in taking up the thread in another area can get a head start.

Fact box
A case study is one of several ways of doing social science research. Rather than using samples and following a rigid protocol to examine limited number of variables, case study methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result the researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might become important to look at more extensively in future research. Case studies lend themselves to both generating and testing hypotheses.

Source (somewhat abbreviated): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_study

What is a (true) case study?

At times, the sub-title case study is stuck onto a document with a somewhat unfocused scope and aim, along the lines "we can always label it a case study". This is somewhat unfortunate, as true case studies are both interesting and thought-provoking.

As it turned out, a major part of the initial case study work was to define what a case study actually is.

The following must apply;

  • a case study most cover a defined geographical area;
  • a case study should reveal an outcome, preferably linked to a given set of pre-conditions;
last updated:  Wednesday, October 29, 2008