Time for Meetings

This paper belongs to Open Session 2 of the Gothenburg Meeting Science Symposium

Helen Schwartzman, Northwestern University (Anthropology)

In this paper I will join the topics of time and meetings to explore several issues, including why it seems to be time for meetings to be a topic of research for so many disciplines (when they have existed in the background for so long for so many investigators). Why now? For example, how is the turn toward “meeting ethnographies” in anthropology (see Sandler and Thedvall, forthcoming 2017) related to researchers’ increased interest in understanding the work and effects of multiple organizations and institutions (NGOs, corporations, state and international bureaucracies)? And, what does this turn suggest about past, present and future meeting studies? I will also consider the issue of time in relation to why the time “spent” in meetings is continually framed as a problem by and for managers, workers, and especially consultants, in the corporate world. How does this “time” problem influence both our definition and understanding of meetings in these settings? Finally, I will take up the issue of the timing of meetings and the importance of examining the landscape of meetings and other activities that exists in any setting in order to understand the effect of meetings in particular contexts.

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