There existvery few studies on thematic analysis, concerning the arena of work life. Oneof such, that has been selected for present discussion as a relevant example isthe study by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) on work and family life balance,titled as “When work keeps us apart: A thematic analysis of the experienceof business travellers”.
This study, though conducted with less number ofparticipants, have particularly focused on the experience of professional andpersonal life balance of the business travellers, under unscheduled conditions,for organisational and economic growth. In present day scenario, it is evidentlybecoming more and more important to strike a balance between work and familylife, and this study by Nicholas and McDowall here have touched the right chordby trying to examine the experiences of “time together and time apart”(Nicholas and McDowall, 2012) of the business travellers (employed andself-employed).Nicholasand McDowall (2012) in their study recruited eleven (11) participants withspouses and children (8 males an 3 females), through non-probability technique(snowball and word-to-mouth), engaged in business travel as part of their worklife for an average of twenty (20) years, and staying away from family for atleast five days in a month.In thestudy under discussion, the researchers’ employed a semi-structured interviewapproach with exploratory questions for the data collection purpose. Theinterview questions, as reported by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) in theirstudy, included specific prompts to facilitate further elaborative discussionon the topic in order to encourage participants bring about a direct andcollaborative engagement during collection of data. However, Nicholas andMcDowall (2012) reported to use the guidelines given by Smith and Eatough(2007), for conducting qualitative interviews, in formulating the priorinterview schedule for the participants’ to collect data.Theinterview, thus, conducted in this discussed study majorly focused on theparticipants’ quality of lifestyle in connection to their time spent togetherand apart with their family.
This was done by asking the participants’ to sharetheir life experiences concerning their business travel tenures and how thosetravels were suited or unsuited, at times, to their work and familyperspectives. In this respect, the questions asked to the participants exploredthe specific aspects of their lives including the instances they enjoyed and/or found difficult to deal with while they were travelling. Further, theinterview also focused on encouraging the participants to share and describeexperiences regarding striking balance between work and family when they werereturning from business pursuits, or while they were working from home or hometown.Finally, the participants were inquired regarding their ability to cope withwork demand and stress, and the family commitments; along with giving someeffective suggestions for others to deal with, in this instance, when facing similarsituation. However, the final questions (as reported by the researcher in theirpublished work) of the study tried to explore on participants specificexperiences of travelling and the instances of the time away from home.The datawere collected elaborately by investing almost sixty (60) to ninety (90)minutes per individual, and according to their convenience in respect of timeand place, to make the participants’ feel comfortable during interviewprocedure. The researchers’ further reported that they took full precautionswhile conducting the interviews, which were all recorded and transcribed asverbatim.
The probable preliminary information’s about the participants’identification such as the name of participants, organisational names,countries visited, etc., were kept confidential and the participants’ were alsoassigned pseudo names by the researchers to ensure anonymity andconfidentiality in the study and the published work.Nicholasand McDowall (2012) in their study have chosen thematic method for analysingthe collected data, for its flexible nature (King, 2004) and the criticalframework pattern (Willig, 1999). The researchers’ have particularly followedthe six-step method given by Braun and Clarke (2006) for producing final reporton their research article. This study had strictly followed all the norms ofthematic technique by continuously reconstructing and reviewing themes withcollaboration of the second researcher (noted from the published work) toensure inclusion of only the strongly emerging themes in the final studyreport; and thus, disregarding all the themes that consisted of weak evidenceand/ or less significance.
Hence, withthe application of thematic technique and through observation of every possibleprecautions needed Nicholas and McDowall (2012) produced their study reportthat finalise the emergence of four major themes, namely: “Accepting theirlifestyle choice and role” (which talked about participants’ choice oftheir profession out of free will, self-discretion, and to some extentfinancial determinants), “Process of negotiation” (signifiedparticipants’ requirement for negotiating with their family, friends and organisational/professional demands to fit into/ between their social roles), “Needing toadapt and adjust” (the most crucial part, in which the participants’ talkedabout their as well their family’s need to learn to adapt, adjust andcompromise for meeting with professional requirements) and lastly, “Businesstravellers valued quality of time” (here the business travellers or to saythe participants’ described about the value of quality time spent with theirfamily, over the quantity of time; participants’ shared their experiences ofmaking up for their absence through providing with quality time to their familyas being the key secret of balancing personal and professional spheres of theirlives).However,while discussing the study implications the research investigators have claimedthat this study through its thematic analytic approach not only have explainedthe major themes, thus, emerged. Nevertheless, this exemplified study also havefacilitated points to further demarcate the types of travelling job natures,viz., one in which there exist a prolonged period of absence and the other likethe irregular and unscheduled absence due to business travel (as mentioned inthis present one). Nicholas and McDowall (2012) further proclaimed that thetravelling jobs with scheduled and prolonged period of absence wereconsiderably perceived as less stressful in sense of balancing work and familylife as they consisted of scheduled reunions at regular intervals in comparisonto the brief but unscheduled business travels (Gerstel & Gross, 1982).
Hence, the study affirms that business travels demand much more balancing ofprofessional and personal life through adopting methods like negotiation,adjustment (both from individual’s and their family’s side), compromise andpreferring quality time over quantity. This is due to the fact that in thiskind of unscheduled travelling ventures there remain no clear dividing linebetween ‘work time’ and individual ‘leisure time’ or family time(Holley et al., 2008).Thus, thisstudy by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) on balancing work and family life, undoubtedly,had put forward the effective utilisation of the thematic method inunderstanding the job demands and life experiences of a particular kind ofprofession and professional experts.