Issues and Challenges in the Use of Template Analysis: Two Comparative Case Studies from the Field.


  • Teresa Waring
  • David Wainwright


template analysis, qualitative, NHS, interview, information


One of the most problematic issues for researchers who conduct qualitative research using semi‑structured, unstructured interviews or story telling data collection methods is the analysis of large quantities of rich data. In the past this has often led to fairly unmethodical approaches to analysis which in turn has led to qualitative business and management research being seen as insubstantial and unworthy of consideration. A relatively recent development in organisational research has been the application of Template Analysis to rich unstructured qualitative data following the primary data collection phase. Template Analysis appears to have emerged from the USA during the 1990s and academics familiar with the Grounded Theory approach to data analysis may see similarities in the techniques used. Nevertheless, it has gained credibility in the UK through the work of Nigel King and other colleagues researching in health and sociology related fields. This paper provides an overview of the origins of Template Analysis and discusses how it has been used to structure qualitative data. It then goes on to examine through the two case studies how Template Analysis has been extended and used by the authors in two different research projects. In the first case study the research team worked within a Primary Care Trust in the North East of England on a project that explored the Diffusion of Innovation of clinical and administrative computer systems across General Practice within the Trust. Seventeen Trust members were interviewed for approximately one hour and this led to over 85000 words of rich data. The second project focused on the NHS Secondary Care sector and examined IT project management practice related to the development of integrated pathology computing systems across eight separate laboratories in the North of England. Eight senior managers were interviewed and this, combined with participant observation and over 3 years of document collection, also resulted in a large volume of rich textual material. The use of template analysis, combined with a critical success factors methodology, resulted in a novel approach for learning about current IT project management practices. This paper critically examines these two case studies in terms of their particular research philosophy, epistemological approach and the lessons learnt from the techniques employed. The paper then provides a discussion of the principles and practicalities of template analysis and explores the benefits to the business and management research community at large.



1 Sep 2008