This paper provides a discussion on how case study research fits into the bigger picture of theory building in the social sciences. In particular, it discusses how case study research, as opposed to more classical quantitative (often statistical) approaches contribute to the progression of collective learning in science. As such, for arguments sake, in this paper these approaches (i.e. qualitative vs. quantitative) are put into a competitive relationship. It is acknowledged that such competitive relationship does not exist in theory, as they are often considered to be complementary, but in practice qualitative research is often more difficult to publish; and tends to be more difficult to defend. Therefore the authors believe there is a need to better recognise the role of case study research in the scientific process; and in light of recent development in participatory modelling to collectively re-evaluate how case study research contributes to the progression of scientific learning?