Case Study Research in Accounting

Posted: 27 May 2013 Last revised: 27 Jun 2013

See all articles by David J. Cooper

David J. Cooper

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems

Wayne Morgan


Date Written: January 1, 2005


We describe case study research and explain its value for developing theory and informing practice. While recognizing the complementary nature of many research methods, we stress the benefits of case studies for understanding situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness, and value conflict. We introduce the concept of phronesis — the analysis of what actions are practical and rational in a specific context — and indicate the value of case studies for developing, and reflecting on, professional knowledge. Examples of case study research in managerial accounting, auditing, and financial accounting illustrate the strengths of case studies for theory development and their potential for generating new knowledge. We conclude by disputing common misconceptions about case study research and suggesting how barriers to case study research may be overcome, which we believe is an important step in making accounting research more relevant.

Suggested Citation

Cooper, David J. and Morgan, Wayne, Case Study Research in Accounting (January 1, 2005). Accounting Horizons, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2008, University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-147, Available at SSRN:

David J. Cooper (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6

Wayne Morgan


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