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Case study

Case study
In the previous session, we have discussed the principles, theories and process of conducting qualitative research. And in this session, I am going to share a few real examples with you. Now, these are the studies that we have conducted and published so far. This one we have published in the International Journal of Hospitality and Management. And this one we have published in the Quality Assurance Journal. And this one we also have got it published recently. The first two studies we used pure qualitative approach. And the third study, we used a mixed method approach.
The first study of the series was triggered by the huge success of Home Inns– a budget hotel brand in China, that they have achieved a huge success, by the time of study. The company was established in 2002. But by 2012, the number of Home Inn hotels in China has come to nearly 1000 across the country, which was regarded as a huge success. So in order to understand what contributed to Home Inns’ huge success, we conducted interviews with unit managers and top executives from the company headquarter in Shanghai. We did on-site observation to understand the nature and features of the product and service.
And we also examined company documents, online comments, and press releases in order to get a full picture of the factors behind Home Inns’ huge success.
So these are the two research questions. What factors have contributed to the success of Home Inns in China, a developing country? And what are the critical success factors of Home Inns according to the unit managers and those in top management positions? And they are corporate executives.
So, for this kind of inquiries, and given that we are studying one particular company, we adopted case study approach. We have discussed earlier that case studies usually focus on a single target, either an individual or a group of people or company or an event. Usually the study is done in more than one stages and utilize different data collection method. So in this study, we also did the same. The study took about one year and a half. In the first stage, we used site visit, observation and interviews with unit managers. And we also did document analysis.
So in this first stage, we used about six months’ time to get an initial understanding of the company to get an initial understanding of the company by these research methods. When we got the data, we did initial reading and analysis. And based on this understanding, we did another round of interviews. This time, we interviewed more unit managers, we interviewed the corporate executives and then we paid more visits to Home Inn hotels. And we even looked at the customers’ feedbacks. So in this way, we will be able to triangulate by multiple data sources. This figure illustrates the concept and practice of triangulation of data sources in the case study. These are the three data sources.
Site visits, we physically go there and have a look what’s going on and what the product is like. We did the document analysis and website analysis to see what people say about this product. And we did interviews with unit managers and corporate executives to understand from their perspective. So this is the main finding, as you can see that, as you can see that, when you have multiple data sources, you are also able to triangulate the key findings. These are the codes, different goal codes. And these are the grouping of codes. For example, entrepreneurship of the founders, commitment from the team, emphasis on HR development.
We find that this is a people or human element and we group them together to form the first theme. And this actually show which data source support these codes.
With these three data sources, we found that these were the recurring themes based on the data source. These recurring themes are people, timing/contextual factors, strategic choice, managerial and operational efficiency, performance and product, and Home Inns’ culture. and Home Inns’ culture. For each theme, we have salient points, we have codes, different codes under each theme. For example, under people, we have entrepreneurship of the founders, commitment from the team, emphasis on HR development; and under the timing and contextual factor, we have strong market demand, we have favorable business environment and we have fine contextual elements. These columns show the three data sources and the ticks indicates that this data source support these points, and support these themes.
This practice allows us to be sure that the findings are reliable. So after interviewing Home Inns’ top managers, sometimes we will also talk to the staff. This is the conclusion we have got. As you can see from the figure, at early stage, strong market demand, entrepreneurship of the founders, favorable economic and business environment, they become the route, they can become the firm foundation of the success of Home Inns. When it grows, the success depended on employee commitment, all the strategies that they develop, Home Inns’ culture, and very importantly, their managerial and operational efficiency. Of course, the ultimate success depends on their financial performance, quality product, and customer satisfaction. So this tree illustrates why Home Inns got so successful.

In this video, Dr. Ren will take the successful story of Home Inns as an example to introduce how to conduct case study.

What factors have contributed to the success of Home Inns in China? What data are used for this case study?

We would like to invite you to share some thoughts in the comment section below. Any comments from you will be helpful.

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