Formal Modelling of Qualitative Case Studies


Qualitative case study research has gained more and more importance for theory building for the management research domain. It can be used to bridge rich qualitative evidence to mainstream deductive research but the analyzing data phase is the most difficult as well as least standardized part of this process. Consequently, it is absolutely necessary to overcome the deficiencies of the case study research, i.e. the lack of objectivity.

At the same time ontology based reasoning has become a very active research field in the domain of computer science. Ontologies are the specification of conceptualizations, using share knowledge in human and machine readable form. However the creation of ontologies, especially for a domain expert not necessarily trained in formal methods, is still a big challenge.

The goal of this interdisciplinary project is, on the one hand, to make a contribution in the field of case based studies by adding ontologies into the overall process, and on the other hand to integrate the approach of building theories from case studies to the field of ontologies in computer science. The resulting approach is validated using a real case study research, projected to develop overall understanding of environmental management orientation and their impact on financial service firms performance.

Our results will permit to evaluate the success of environmental operations management orientation of financial service firms. A further aspect is to analyze the quality and the relevance of public reports (e.g., global report initiative GRI) for research as well as decision support for management. Our work constitutes one of the first studies based on these kinds of empirical data that investigate explicitly the link between strategy, practices and performance. Knowledge on how to evaluate the impact of different environmental management orientations will be of great interest to academics researchers in the field of (service) operations management as well as practitioners. The direct impact of environmental operations management orientation on firm performance is of interest for the whole society as well. Instead of simplified environmental ratings developed by practitioners rather than academics that serve for consultants, business associations and environmental governmental and non-governmental organization, we contribute to an overall understanding of environmental management orientation and their impact on financial service firms performance.

Persons and institutions

Principal applicant Co-applicant PhD. students
Prof. Kilian Stoffel
Information Management Institute
University of Neuchâtel
Prof. Gerald Reiner
Entreprise Institute
University of Neuchâtel

Assist. Dong Han
Information Management Institute

Assist. Gomes Dos Santos Gil
Entreprise Institute

Assist. Aline Zingg
Entreprise Institute


 [1] D.Han, K. Stoffel, Ontology based Qualitative Case Studies for Sustainability Research, In Proceedings of Workshop "A.I. for Intelligent Planet", IJCAI 2011, Barcelona .

[2] D. Han and K. Stoffel, Ontology based Model and Procedure Creation for Topic Analysis in Chinese Language, Joint Conference of the Sixth Chinese Semantic Web Symposium (CSWS) and the First Chinese Web Science Conference (CWSC), 2012, China.

[3] D. Han and K. Stoffel, An Interactive Working Tool for Qualitative Text Analysis,12th French-speaking Conference on Knowledge Extraction and Management, 2012, France, pp. 599-602.

[4] D. Han and K. Stoffel, Ontology based Qualitative Methodology for Chinese Language Analysis, Advanced Information Networking and Applications Workshops (WAINA), 2012, Japan, pp. 839-844.