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Cross-case Methodology: Bringing Rigour to Community and Systems Change Research and Evaluation


Kien S. Lee, Community Science, 438 N. Frederick Ave., Suite 315, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, USA.



Cross-case study methodology is a more appropriate and still rigorous methodology for community and systems change research and evaluation. It supports learning about effective implementation, community capacity building, and resident engagement—all core elements of community and systems change efforts. It also communicates more effectively to non-researchers and evaluators if, how, and why community and systems change occurred through the use of a narrative that combines qualitative and quantitative data to tell a story. The application of the cross-case study methodology, adapted from Yin's cross-case synthesis approach, requires five essential steps: developing a theory of change, establishing a measurement framework that reflects methodological and data source triangulation, developing a cross-case study protocol and building a database, analysing and interpreting the findings, and communicating the results. This methodology was applied to the evaluation of the Safe Start Demonstration Project, a national community and systems change effort funded by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This methodology has all the attributes of scientific rigour. In this paper, we argue for a reconsideration of case study research by funders, policymakers, researchers, and evaluators and advance the cross-case methodology as the emerging standard for community and systems change research and evaluation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.