Guidelines for Using a Case Study Approach in Construction Culture Research: Application to BIM-Enabled Organizations

Sonali Alankarage, Nicholas Chileshe, Aparna Samaraweera, Raufdeen Rameezdeen, David J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article seeks to improve the understanding of applying case studies in qualitative research in construction culture. Being a soft and method-complex research strategy, the case study approach is challenging to implement in practice. This issue is exacerbated when the case study approach is incorporated with the inherited complexity of the construction culture. Thus, when studying construction culture through a case study approach, it is critical to establish concise guidelines that can be referred to and followed. The proposed methodology is described in detail, from conceptualizing the research problem to reporting the findings, and is illustrated with an example application to a building information modeling (BIM)-enabled construction organization. The ensuing discourse elucidates upon how the philosophical and methodological issues can be addressed by systematically designing the case study to secure optimal research outcomes. From the study, it was found that beyond the scope of typical case studies, a cultural case study must establish its cultural philosophical position, whether it sees culture as a variable or a root metaphor. Given the necessity of indirect questioning in culture research, the data collection protocols should be developed to allow for a more in-depth exploration of the core construction culture. Consequently, questions about difficult and critical situations are essential for eliciting appropriate responses from interviewees and making the process more effective. Furthermore, asking interviewees for examples to back up their answers adds justifications and credibility to their responses. The paper contributes to the existing body of knowledge by proposing a systematic approach to identify hidden cultural beliefs, and by demonstrating the process of developing coding levels using NVivo software. The proposed methodology can be applied to other cultural domains such as safety and lean and can help organizations to identify the underlying cultural beliefs that may impact their performance and develop targeted interventions. The guidelines help novice researchers identify critical steps in designing qualitative case studies in cultural research, and future research could deductively and quantitatively test the theories developed in this paper to confirm validity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05023009
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management - ASCE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Case study
  • Construction industry
  • Culture
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial Relations
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Guidelines for Using a Case Study Approach in Construction Culture Research: Application to BIM-Enabled Organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this