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A folk theory of meetings -- and beyond

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Purpose
Despite widespread frustration with meetings in organizations, they receive very little attention from academics. The purpose of this paper is to shed conceptual light on meetings and hence render them amenable to research and development.

Design/methodology/approach
From interviews with managers and employees we extracted six common assumptions about meetings, termed a folk theory of meetings, which most office workers seem to carry in the back of their minds.

Findings
This folk theory holds meetings to be places for excessive talk, whether by a domineering leader or highly vocal participants, the purpose of which is to walk through the items on the agenda and dispose of each. This bleak and conservative concept of a meeting impedes intellectual as well as practical progress.

Practical implications
An alternative theory of meetings is proposed, one based on the group facilitation approach to social order in meetings. On this view, a facilitator can change meetings by controlling their form and process, providing direction, stimulating engagement and ensuring that the meeting creates value for its external stakeholders and meaning for its participants. If adopted in management training, this view of meetings—and the widely available facilitation tools that go with it—may render meetings at work the subject of conscious organizational development.

Originality/value
The proposed "folk theory of meetings" is novel, as is the contrast provided with the facilitation approach to meetings. Together, they constitute a reconceptualization that can be used to move meetings out of the organizational doldrums
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Business Review
Volume25
Issue2
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
ISSN0955-534X
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Facilitering af videnprocesser, Livslang læring

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