The case study method is a favoured method to study practices of design management. Often the research inquiries include a concern for how to integrate design with other business functions, which is a process of change. Action and clinical research methods are also concerned with change processes. These methods, however, involve the researcher actively in the process and hence these methods challenge the ideal of an objective research process. This paper discusses the differences between case studies and action research: what can be gained by the latter methods, as well as their consequences for research objectives. A briefcase that started as an action research project and ended as a case study will demonstrate the difficulties and opportunities involved in an action research method.