Case studies in tourism research: A state-of-the-art analysis

Honggen Xiao, Stephen L.J. Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the methodological aspects of case study as a research strategy. In particular, it examines case study research in tourism. Seventy-six full articles from the recent volumes (2000-2004) of Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Travel Research, Tourism Analysis, and Tourism Management were selected for a content analysis. The research discusses (1) themes/topics case studies addressed, (2) case specificity in research purposes, objectives or questions, (3) authorship characteristics, (4) research designs, (5) methodological procedures, and (6) the presentation of case study reports. It is concluded that the prevalent arguments of case studies as conceptually and analytically weak is not justified. Stereotypical perceptions as such can be misleading and may consequently exert a negative impact on the righteous application of case study methodology in tourism research. Limitations of this analysis and future research issues are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-749
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Case study
  • Content analysis
  • Journal analysis
  • Research methods
  • Tourism research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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