This systematic literature review aimed to investigate the use of the case study methods in hospitality and tourism research to increase awareness about the use of case studies as a research method. Data were collected (n = 871) from 10 leading hospitality and tourism journals published between 1974 and 2020. A thematic analysis of the data was conducted using Leximancer as computer-aided analysis software. The study findings reveal an overall mislabeling and misuse of the case study method. Suggestions are provided to improve case study method applications and increase case study research for more theory development in hospitality and tourism research.

The case study method can be described as “a method that uses multiple data sources to develop a contextualized understanding of the phenomenon to confront theory by comparing it with empirical data” (Hoorani et al., 2019, pp. 286–287). A case study is identified as a qualitative form of research design, also considered as a comparative study, a retrospective study, a snapshot (e.g., an analysis of state and process at the time of the research), or a longitudinal study (Flick et al., 2004). The case study method is classified within qualitative research designs along with narrative research, phenomenology, grounded theory, and ethnographies (Creswell, 2014).