The Possibility of the Testimony. A Case for Case Study Research

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This Connexions essay aims to reflect on the nature, rationale, and implications for research and researchers of conducting case studies. It draws on the works of Primo Levi and Giorgio Agamben on the meaning of the testimony and the paradox of Auschwitz: only those who died could fully testify the atrocities of the camp, but they tragically passed away. Thus each testimony presents a lacuna, and one needs to listen to the voices coming from this empty space to comprehend what happened. For organizational scholars, this paradox metaphorically implies that listening to managers and interviewees has nothing to do with telling what could be seen (a fact) and rather relates to what is missing (a lacuna) and thus the issue is one of investigating this absence (this space left empty by whichever testimony). This opens some ethical questions: What is the role of researchers in this investigation? Where does their ‘authority’ to narrate come from? What are they ‘authorized’ to recount? And with what consequences? Are researchers ineluctably perpetrators of a domination in the absence (and in the name) of the Other or is there an escape from this?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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