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There exist
very few studies on thematic analysis, concerning the arena of work life. One
of such, that has been selected for present discussion as a relevant example is
the study by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) on work and family life balance,
titled as “When work keeps us apart: A thematic analysis of the experience
of business travellers”. This study, though conducted with less number of
participants, have particularly focused on the experience of professional and
personal life balance of the business travellers, under unscheduled conditions,
for organisational and economic growth. In present day scenario, it is evidently
becoming more and more important to strike a balance between work and family
life, and this study by Nicholas and McDowall here have touched the right chord
by trying to examine the experiences of “time together and time apart”
(Nicholas and McDowall, 2012) of the business travellers (employed and

and McDowall (2012) in their study recruited eleven (11) participants with
spouses and children (8 males an 3 females), through non-probability technique
(snowball and word-to-mouth), engaged in business travel as part of their work
life for an average of twenty (20) years, and staying away from family for at
least five days in a month.

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In the
study under discussion, the researchers’ employed a semi-structured interview
approach with exploratory questions for the data collection purpose. The
interview questions, as reported by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) in their
study, included specific prompts to facilitate further elaborative discussion
on the topic in order to encourage participants bring about a direct and
collaborative engagement during collection of data. However, Nicholas and
McDowall (2012) reported to use the guidelines given by Smith and Eatough
(2007), for conducting qualitative interviews, in formulating the prior
interview schedule for the participants’ to collect data.

interview, thus, conducted in this discussed study majorly focused on the
participants’ quality of lifestyle in connection to their time spent together
and apart with their family. This was done by asking the participants’ to share
their life experiences concerning their business travel tenures and how those
travels were suited or unsuited, at times, to their work and family
perspectives. In this respect, the questions asked to the participants explored
the specific aspects of their lives including the instances they enjoyed and/
or found difficult to deal with while they were travelling. Further, the
interview also focused on encouraging the participants to share and describe
experiences regarding striking balance between work and family when they were
returning from business pursuits, or while they were working from home or hometown.
Finally, the participants were inquired regarding their ability to cope with
work demand and stress, and the family commitments; along with giving some
effective suggestions for others to deal with, in this instance, when facing similar
situation. However, the final questions (as reported by the researcher in their
published work) of the study tried to explore on participants specific
experiences of travelling and the instances of the time away from home.

The data
were collected elaborately by investing almost sixty (60) to ninety (90)
minutes per individual, and according to their convenience in respect of time
and place, to make the participants’ feel comfortable during interview
procedure. The researchers’ further reported that they took full precautions
while conducting the interviews, which were all recorded and transcribed as
verbatim. 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 also
assigned pseudo names by the researchers to ensure anonymity and
confidentiality in the study and the published work.

and McDowall (2012) in their study have chosen thematic method for analysing
the collected data, for its flexible nature (King, 2004) and the critical
framework pattern (Willig, 1999). The researchers’ have particularly followed
the six-step method given by Braun and Clarke (2006) for producing final report
on their research article. This study had strictly followed all the norms of
thematic technique by continuously reconstructing and reviewing themes with
collaboration of the second researcher (noted from the published work) to
ensure inclusion of only the strongly emerging themes in the final study
report; and thus, disregarding all the themes that consisted of weak evidence
and/ or less significance.

Hence, with
the application of thematic technique and through observation of every possible
precautions needed Nicholas and McDowall (2012) produced their study report
that finalise the emergence of four major themes, namely: “Accepting their
lifestyle choice and role” (which talked about participants’ choice of
their profession out of free will, self-discretion, and to some extent
financial determinants), “Process of negotiation” (signified
participants’ requirement for negotiating with their family, friends and organisational/
professional demands to fit into/ between their social roles), “Needing to
adapt and adjust” (the most crucial part, in which the participants’ talked
about their as well their family’s need to learn to adapt, adjust and
compromise for meeting with professional requirements) and lastly, “Business
travellers valued quality of time” (here the business travellers or to say
the participants’ described about the value of quality time spent with their
family, over the quantity of time; participants’ shared their experiences of
making up for their absence through providing with quality time to their family
as being the key secret of balancing personal and professional spheres of their

while discussing the study implications the research investigators have claimed
that this study through its thematic analytic approach not only have explained
the major themes, thus, emerged. Nevertheless, this exemplified study also have
facilitated points to further demarcate the types of travelling job natures,
viz., one in which there exist a prolonged period of absence and the other like
the irregular and unscheduled absence due to business travel (as mentioned in
this present one). Nicholas and McDowall (2012) further proclaimed that the
travelling jobs with scheduled and prolonged period of absence were
considerably perceived as less stressful in sense of balancing work and family
life as they consisted of scheduled reunions at regular intervals in comparison
to the brief but unscheduled business travels (Gerstel & Gross, 1982).
Hence, the study affirms that business travels demand much more balancing of
professional and personal life through adopting methods like negotiation,
adjustment (both from individual’s and their family’s side), compromise and
preferring quality time over quantity. This is due to the fact that in this
kind of unscheduled travelling ventures there remain no clear dividing line
between ‘work time’ and individual ‘leisure time’ or family time
(Holley et al., 2008).

Thus, this
study by Nicholas and McDowall (2012) on balancing work and family life, undoubtedly,
had put forward the effective utilisation of the thematic method in
understanding the job demands and life experiences of a particular kind of
profession and professional experts.

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