The rift between studies

Today I had a lecture in methodology. I attend this course because I have started to write on my dissertation, or actually my thesis. The course is planned to help us choose the way we perform the research needed for the paper.

Today we were focusing on making interviews in order to gain information for researches. The task was to perform an interview on a focus group. The participants for this course study both tourism, as I do, and then we also have some students, about half of the class, that study economics, more specifically management accounting.

Well, the point of today’s exercise was to divide the class in two groups; one being the leader of the interview while the other part would answer the interview questions and therefore be the respondents. The interesting fact was that as we tourism students prepared the questions to be asked, we assumed certain things. And seeing as we all have the same background, let’s say in an academic way, we think at least in a similar way.

What we realized during the interview was actually that these assumptions were made because of our studies. The management accounters thought very differently about the questions we asked them. The topic of the interview was to understand on what ground persons choose the restaurants they go to. The interesting part was that we tourism students thought about a lot of factors that could affect this decision. Factors like company, price, location, atmosphere, popularity, trends etc. The management accounters immediately thought about a business meeting when talking about restaurants. They actually made it sound like they never go to restaurants as a leisure activity, but merely as a part of business life. When asked about the relation between price and quality, they answered that they associate a high price to small portions.

What?? We were amazed by this. How differently people can think about things. Once again I was happy about what I study. Sometimes I take for granted the knowledge I have about customer behavior, hotels, tourists, restaurants, travel agencies and so on. It’s easy for me to assume that everybody knows these things. That everybody has a common interest in these things. But today we proved otherwise.

When the respondents didn’t say much during the interview, our lecturer asked the management accounters what they would have wanted to talk about and they actually answered that it would have been better if the topic would have been management accounting! Can you believe it? How small can one’s world be? I’m grateful for studying something as wide as tourism; we at least have an opinion about almost everything. I think it is suitable today, as the biggest tourism fair in the Nordic countries begins tomorrow here in Helsinki, to appreciate the field I’m studying and encourage everybody to get acquainted with tourism.

What's your opinion?