Why Meetings Matter


Why Meetings Matter

Everyday Arenas for Making, Performing and Maintaining Organisations

9781803924632 Edward Elgar Publishing
Patrik Hall, Professor of Political Science, Department of Global Political Studies, Malmö University, Malin Åkerström, Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology, Lund University and Erika Andersson Cederholm, Professor of Service Studies, Department of Service Studies, Lund University, Sweden
Publication Date: 2024 ISBN: 978 1 80392 463 2 Extent: 228 pp
This innovative book argues that meetings are a crucial feature of modern organisations, demonstrating that, contrary to popular belief, meetings are what define, represent and maintain organisations.

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This innovative book argues that meetings are a crucial feature of modern organisations, demonstrating that, contrary to popular belief, meetings are what define, represent and maintain organisations.

Through an in-depth analysis of ethnographic case studies, Patrik Hall, Malin Åkerström and Erika Andersson Cederholm illustrate the inner workings of meetings, exploring phenomena such as meeting chains, meeting escapes, the digitalisation of meetings, subtle meeting diplomacy, and seductive business events. This book emphasises how negotiations, collaborations and power dynamics are performed during meetings, making meetings the most fundamental working map of organisational hierarchies. Ultimately, Why Meetings Matter highlights the crucial importance of meetings in an increasingly collaborative professional working landscape.

Offering a cutting-edge approach to a longstanding social phenomenon, this book will be of great interest to academics, students and researchers in the fields of sociology, political science and organisation studies. Including ethnographic studies with practical case-based applications, it will appeal in particular to office-based professionals as it provides new insights into a taken-for-granted workplace activity.
Critical Acclaim
‘Why Meetings Matter challenges our everyday view that meetings are a meaningless waste of time. The authors present an approach that allows us to study what we already think we know about meetings, focusing first on “what meetings do as a social phenomenon” and then asking, “how do [meetings] do what they do?” Drawing on a series of case studies in multiple settings, they present a timely and insightful analysis of the process of “doing meetings” in these contexts. In this way, Why Meetings Matter is an important, engaging and accessible addition to the developing field of research by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists and historians that takes meetings seriously as events that should not be taken for granted and instead require thoughtful analysis and explanation.’
– Helen B. Schwartzman, Northwestern University, US

‘The strength and importance of this book is that it shows in clear and plain language the great, social and organisational significance of meetings in our society. It unravels puzzling secrets of our meeting culture and provides surprising clues for further research into the “meeting landscape”. Thanks to this book, managers and (meeting) consultants need to be less in the dark during their professional work.’
– Wilbert van Vree, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

‘An outstanding achievement by three prominent scholars of organisational practice. Organisations of all kinds have become prominent venues of definition and decision-making about who and what we were, are, or will be in life. Much of this transpires in meetings. The book superbly captures the significance of why meetings matter in this exceptionally broad landscape of social construction.’
– Jaber F. Gubrium, University of Missouri, US
Contents: 1 Introduction: the meeting society 2 What is a meeting? 3 The meeting landscape, its emergence
and expansion 4 Meetings as ‘doing the organisation’ (in collaboration with Vesa Leppänen) 5 Meetings and their documents 6 Escaping while attending meetings 7 Digital meetings 8 Collaborative meetings: diplomatic relations 9 Collaborative meetings: soft political power 10 The seductive meeting: network sociality and the promotion of a new meeting persona 11 Conclusion: the doings, the ‘hows’ and the ‘whos’ of meetings Index
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