Abstracts for the presentations at the 2nd Meeting Science Symposium (Last updated: 22 March 2019)

(pdf version here)

1. Do Dogs have Meetings?

Helen B. Schwartzman, Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University

Recent research on African wild dogs living in Botswana suggests that they practice an interesting form of collective decision-making about when to move from a resting spot and begin to hunt for food (Walker, et al. 2017). Apparently, consensus about when to move is deliberated by sneezing. According to the investigators this is the first example of a social animal using sneezes or sneezing as a way to determine if there is agreement or consensus about pursuing a particular action. In fact, many animals who live in groups have developed distinctive ways to signal agreement (or not) with particular types of decisions. For example, as Walker, et al. illustrate, meerkats make “moving calls” to determine whether or not to move to a different foraging patch, honeybees make “piping signals” and white faced capuchin monkeys “trill” as a way to indicate agreement about a proposed action.

In this paper I suggest that research on how multiple species engage in collective decisions is an important source of information for investigators who wish to understand the role of meetings in social life. By broadening our focus to consider how non-humans engage (or may engage) in similar actions to humans when it comes to something as basic as signaling agreement or disagreement about pursuing a particular action, this may help us think in new ways about questions like: 1) how can we (or can we) define what a meeting is? 2) are there any universal (or even cross-species) characteristics of meetings? 3) what does a meeting do and/or how is it agentive?

The research reported here is based on a critical review of research on group decisions in non-human animals (e.g., Conradt and List 2008). Some of the issues that stand out when reviewing this material are the role of sound in communicating/facilitating the deliberative process as well as “the decision” and also the importance of recognizing “presence” and “numbers” in terms of whether or not an action can be taken and how or whether that action may be viewed as appropriate, authoritative or “actionable.” I will reflect on these points, as well as other issues that may appear in my review, as I continue to ponder the question, “do dogs have meetings?”


Walker, Reena H., Andrew J. King, J. Weldon McNutt and Neil R. Jordan. 2017. Sneeze to leave: African wild dogs (lycaon pictus) use variable quorum thresholds facilitated by sneezes in collective decisions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Science. Volume 284, Issue 1862.

Conradt, Larissa and Christian List. 2008. Group decisions in humans and animals: a survey. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences . Volume: 364, Issue 1518.


2. Meeting Ethnography: Architecture, Practices of Circulation and Maker

By: Jen Sandler and Renita Thedvall, Presenter: Renita Thedvall

In our paper, we want to offer the concept of meeting ethnography to a methodological discussion on how to study meetings, as well as to a discussion on the ontology of the meeting. We posit ethnography as a key methodological approach for opening up the particular space-time of the meeting. Using ethnography as a method for investigation at and through meetings will make visible certain aspects that are not readily available unless doing participant observation in the meeting. We have developed an analytical framework for the ethnography of meetings, understanding meetings through the concepts of architecture, practices of circulation, and maker (Sandler and Thedvall 2017). In this paper, we want to develop these concepts in relation to our understanding of the meeting as a space of possibilities dependent on the modes of relations in the meeting (as well as adjacent to the meeting). Meetings enact ongoing organizational life through the modes of relations circulating in the meeting room between the participants, the material (e.g. documents, powerpoints, water bottles, coffee…), and the non-material (e.g. ideology, knowledge, affect, power…).

In this way, meetings are containers, collections in space and time of ideas, people, paper, and various qualities of space and time that interact. Meetings both relate to externalities and they contain complex relations. Meetings are organizing and structuring entities whose particular forms make certain relations possible, likely, and necessary. We want to point to meetings as intentional space-time interactions among humans and non-humans ostensibly engaged in, or at least with, the same project. The meeting as a maker alludes to the fact that there is an intent of those calling the meeting, such as information, decision-making, problem-solving, creating legitimacy and authority. And there is the intent of participants. The intentionality includes interpretation – interpretation of the collective project in that we have a recognition that we meet, that it is a meeting. The meeting makes a particular form of relationality that includes intention and interpretation of a collective project. The intent does not have to be the same for all actors; the same meeting can include governance, resistance and development at the same time. The meeting is thus a maker of possibilities. It is a productive space where alternate routes and ways of understanding can be developed. Even if a meeting fails to make what was intended by the person who designed it, it is still a maker (or a breaker) of relational and organizational dynamics.

To understand and examine the modes of relations of the architecture, the practices circulating, and the navigation of the intents in meetings, participant observation in meetings is indispensable. The way to access these processes and practices is thus through meeting ethnography, which enables us to not black-box the meeting, but open it up for inspection.


3. An advanced model of decision-making in workplace meetings

Wilbert van Vree

During my 25 years’ work as a meeting consultant, I developed a model for decision-making in meetings, especially workplace meetings. It is an alternative to the customary decision-making by substantive consensus, which is commonplace in many parliamentary-industrial societies but in practice often leads to either of these:

  • Quickly jumping to over-hasty conclusions.
  • Endless talking without reaching workable conclusions.

In established parliamentary societies, deciding by majority vote is problematic, often even unwanted, in work-place meetings and many other, non-political meetings. However, in those meetings, a deep-seated democratic attitude reveals itself in the pursuit to reach consensus on the contents of the decision. Especially, as leadership is absent, diffuse, unclear or weak, this pursuit is strong and easily leads to a deadlock or an ill thought-out result.

When a group has to make a decision, members immediately leap upon a discussion on what is the best decision. Meeting-holders are inclined to blindly focus on the contents and apply a common, taken for granted, procedure: substantive discussions in order to achieve group consensus. However, when a group as a whole is responsible, often nobody feels responsible in person and so either the discussion quickly results in a sloppy solution or the discussion gets vicious and stuck, since the common, unspoken, desire for consensus gives everybody de facto a veto. These ‘chat dynamics’ may even be reinforced by ‘Parkinson’s law’, which says that the more insignificant a topic is the longer it is being talked about.

This pitfall can be avoided by an introductory discussion on what in the particular case is an appropriate decision-making procedure before going into the details of the contents. The goal of this discussion is an agreement on who will be responsible for the decision-making process and the final decision.

In theory, this may be the group as a whole (by majority or consensus) or a part of the group (committee of individual). In practice, the initial, procedural discussion often ends in delegating the decision-making management and the final responsibility to one or a few group members (most competent, most concerned, most senior). The role of the other members, then, is limited to specific tasks in specific phases of decision-making, such as delivering particular information in the beginning, advising the decision-maker in the middle and helping to implement and evaluate the decision in the final phase.

This more advanced decision-making model is better in accordance with the management needs of modern organizations and the desire of their employees to take ownership over their work and to be personally responsible for the results (showing initiative, accountability and team spirit). The new meeting culture is more relaxed and purposive. Less face-to-face meetings are necessary and the ones needed are smaller in number, shorter, more often virtual, more informal, targeted, and efficient.


4. Empowerment in online recovery-oriented meetings

Jeanette Landgrebe, Dept. of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen

Within the Danish social-psychiatric practice, municipalities are obliged by law to offer health services to mentally vulnerable citizens. One such service is the local social-psychiatric drop-in centres, where the citizens – at their own convenience – can participate in social activities. The citizens can also receive mental health support from a social-psychiatric worker, either in the citizen’s home or in the drop-in centre. This sum of services is carried out almost exclusively by physical co-presence and is meant to help the vulnerable citizens towards increased life quality and rehabilitation, i.e. developing a meaningful sense of life, a positive identity, new valued social roles and autonomy.

In recent years, however, the public sector has witnessed an increased pressure from the Danish government to implement digital welfare solutions. In the social-psychiatric practice, this has developed into online mental health support, also known as online recovery-oriented meetings . Despite increased governmental pressure and several pilot projects, a strong resistance and critique prevail from the professionals and citizens alike, one of the strongest and most persistent arguments being that the relational work gets lost in cyberspace. Following this logic, online recovery-oriented meetings have not yet been fully acknowledged, accepted or routinized as a new social-psychiatric therapeutic tool.

Employing the method of Conversation Analysis (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson, 1974; Heritage 2004), I address the above resistance and critique by analyzing video-recordings of how social-psychiatric workers and mentally vulnerable citizens practice online recovery-oriented meetings. In this process, I demonstrate how the ‘constraints’ of the online meeting format allows participants to construct new local competencies and positive identities, which the face-to-face encounter is unlikely to prompt. Based on my analyses, I argue for new and unexplored ways of empowering the mentally vulnerable citizens and point to strengths of the online meeting format, which have hitherto not been recognized nor considered. My results can potentially point towards development of new therapeutic tools and strategies in the Danish social-psychiatric practice.


Sacks, H., Schegloff, E.A. & Jefferson, G. (1974). “A Simplest Systematics for the Organisation of Turn-taking for Conversation”. In Language, 50: 696-735.

Heritage, J. (2004). Conversation analysis and institutional talk: analyzing data: In Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice, Silverman D. (ed.). London: Sage, pp. 222-245.


5. Application of a learning model on meeting design – The 4MAT Model

Melanie Büscher and Hanne Houbak

Phenomenon being addressed: Meetings are typically conceptualized planner-oriented, not participant-centered. The organizer focuses on the expert-knowledge to be shared without specifically reflecting upon the participants’ interests and needs. It is assumed that participants are naturally motivated. Experience shows, however, that this traditional approach often leads to ineffective meetings where new information is not being used in practice.

Central claim: In essence, a meeting is about acquiring and adapting to new knowledge. Therefore, designing it from the perspective of learning theories would be highly beneficial. We suggest applying the simple, but effective learning model 4MAT on meeting design to create more value both for the participants and the organizer.

Methodology and practical experience: 4MAT combines theories of personal development with current research on human brain function and learning. 4MAT is formed from the perceiving and processing dimensions of the natural learning cycle. The four main steps ask the questions: Why? What? How? If? Thus, 4MAT explicitly brings two additional dimensions to any meeting: the establishment of personal meaning and an individual connection to the essence of the information to be shared, and a personal dimension through the facilitation of usefulness and transferability of new knowledge. By incorporating these two dimensions in the meeting design, our practical experience is that meetings create greater impact as the new knowledge is perceived more meaningful to the participants and thus more likely to be applied.

The traditional agenda is extended by the two following steps: 1) an emotional experience that engages participants with the content to be discussed. Personal perceptions and opinions as well as some agreed-upon consensus make the meeting purposeful to each participant and open up for constructive dialogue. 2) Finish through creative applications and personal integration. Participants will usually come up with new and different approaches than originally foreseen.

Theoretical approach: The fundamental assumptions of 4MAT are derived from the work of John Dewey, Carl Jung and David Kolb. 4MAT is based on learning styles and personal motivation and performance, deepening the levels of personal understanding and that knowledge transfer is more appropriately encouraged when meetings systematically incorporate attention to personal experience, reflection, conceptualization, practice, extension, refinement and integration.

Data to support argument: Extensive research shows a positive impact of 4MAT on learning and retention. By building a bridge between learning theories and meeting design, practical experience shows that meeting design following 4MAT increases participant motivation and improves results.

Practical implications: Using a simple and approved learning method that focuses on personal motivation and individual purpose has the potential of making meetings create more impact.


6. Using leaders’ business meetings interaction to revisit ‘authority’

Mie Femø Nielsen, Dept. of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen

One of the key topics in leadership studies is “who has the capacity to define what is necessary and desirable, what should, and what should not, be done, in certain domains of action in relation to one’s co-participants, and who has the obligation to do what others tell him or her to do”, the interlocutors’ deontic rights and responsibilities (Stevanovic and Svennevig, 2015: 2). This paper will revisit Weber’s work on authority. It will explore leadership practice in concrete moment-by-moment communication with respect to exercising and displaying authority in symmetric as well as asymmetric power relations. The aim of the paper is to identify different interactional strategies and discuss their implications for local construction of authority. A distinction is made between showing to be entitled (in the present), and acting locally to become entitled (in the near or more distant future). These interactional moves and strategies are different from the approach to sources of authority that the literature has shown a strong interest in. The paper will identify four categories of displayed authority on a structural level (chairing and progressing the talk), an epistemic/professional level (displaying to know and master), a design level (action formation) and a normative level (morality work and sensemaking). Finally, the paper will briefly discuss why these types of authority are not merely modern versions of charismatic (or rational-legal) authority. Data are from a large corpus of international business meetings. Examples analyzed are from face-to-face and video mediated meetings that are video recorded in Uganda, Denmark and India.


7. Joking in face-to-face management workgroup meetings: A strategy in the enactment of epistemic and deontic authority

Louise Lüchow, Dept. of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen

Epistemic and deontic authority in institutional settings has long been a field of interest in the studies of social interaction (see e.g. Svennevig, 2011). Especially the latter has become a topic of rising interest (see e.g. Stevanovic & Peräkylä, 2012).

In this study, I add to this field of research by examining how joking slots in management meetings contribute to the subtle power play in the ongoing negotiation of epistemic and deontic authority (Stevanovic, 2018). Joking as a social interactional phenomenon can be found in numerous institutional settings and has multiple interactional functions, such as socializing or in relieving stressed situations (e.g. Vöge, 2008). Furthermore, it appears that managers laugh and joke more than their subordinates, which implies an entitlement related to seniority (Dannerer, 1999; Vöge, 2008).

My point of departure is that joking can be used as a strategy to approach numerous kinds of interactional challenges emphasized or even induced by epistemic and deontic asymmetry, particularly relevant in sequences where future actions for decision making are at issue, such as proposals, directives and announcements (Stevanovic, 2018).

I suggest that joking thereby functions as a resource for the participants, for the teller of the joke as well as recipients, in the enactment and public display of epistemic and deontic authority. Joking may function as a means to negotiate epistemic and deontic rights in an apparently face preserving, non-threatening way (Goffman, 1967) and in this sense work as a resource and a tool for either inciting or retaining the implicit power play of epistemic and deontic authority.

Method: I take a multimodal interactional approach (Streeck et al., 2011), to micro-analyse authentic video data from a management workgroup meeting in a public organization.


Dannerer, Monika. (1999). Besprechungen im Betrieb – Empirische Analysen und didaktische Perspektiven. [Meetings in a Company – Empirical Analyses and Didactical Perspectives] . München: Iudicium Verlag.

Goffman, Erwing. (1967). Interaction Ritual: Essays on FacetoFace Behavior . Garden City: Doubleday

Stevanovic, Melisa; Peräkylä, Anssi. (2012). Deontic Authority in Interaction: The Right to Announce, Propose, and Decide. Research on Language and Social Interaction 45:3, pages 297-321

Stevanovic, Melisa. (2018). Social deontics: A nano-level approach to human power play. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 48:3, pages 369-389.

Streeck, Jürgen; Goodwin, Charles; LeBaron, Curtis. (2011). Embodied Interaction: Language and Body in the Material World . Cambridge University Press.

Vöge, Monika. (2008). All You Need is Laugh – Interactional Implications of Laughter in Business Meetings . University of Southern Denmark


8. Meetings as a Window into Organizational Effectiveness: Insights from Interaction Analysis

Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, Department of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of Hamburg

Organizations are continuously improving their production and administrative processes. Meetings have rarely been considered in this regard, even though they consume substantial human resources and hold great potential for improvement.

Employees spend six hours per average week in meetings, and managers report spending up to 80% of their work time in meetings. Teams in organizations rely on meetings for coordination, idea generation, decision making, and action planning. However, meetings are also an arena for negative group mood, downward spirals, and failing leadership.

This talk will highlight the evidence of what actually happens in team meetings based on insights from quantitative interaction analysis and multi-level modeling. These methods can pinpoint complex team phenomena and behavioral patterns at the core of good and bad meetings. For organizational practice, these findings have several implications for creating more effective workplace meetings.


9. The ‘meeting logics’ of social movement encounters: A postcolonial analytics

Johanna Leinius, University of Kassel

My presentation puts forward ‘meeting logics’ as power-conscious analytical approach to social movement encounters. Meeting logics enable the critical analysis of how the meeting as social arena is embedded in broader societal contexts, and yet how meeting dynamics are potentially able to disturb hegemonic power relations by fostering alternative ways of linking struggles and identities.

The ‘meeting logics’-approach brings together the meta-level of discourse, the meso-level of organization, and the micro-level of participant interaction with a focus on how different social worlds negotiate meaning within the encounter across difference. It connects social movement research with political ontology, situational analysis, and postcolonial as well as feminist research.

I illustrate the usefulness of the approach by presenting examples from my research on two social movement encounters that took place in Peru, were transnational in scope, and counter-hegemonic in intent: the 5th Dialogues between Knowledges and Movements and the 13th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encounter. My research is based on collaborative research with the meeting organizers.

In my presentation, I first provide an overview of the analytics of meeting logics, showing its potential for analyses that take into account broader (postcolonial) power structures as well as the micro-politics of meetings. I then show how the focus on meeting logics reveals the different ways of how the binary logics of modernity have influenced even the supposedly open spaces of the social movement spaces I analyzed. I moreover discuss how hegemonic logics have nevertheless been (partially) appropriated, challenged, and transformed by meeting organizers and participants. I end my presentation by evaluating how the approach can be generalized for studying meetings not only in social movement spaces, but also in other contexts. I argue that it allows for the study of power relations, dynamics of exclusion and inclusion as well as the co-constitution of identities and meaning.


10. Meetings under Surveillance: Social Movement Assemblies and State Repression

Hans Jonas Gunzelmann, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore

The freedom of speech and assembly is a fundamental precondition for the structure and practice of meetings. However, liberal democracies also employ repertoires of state repression to control contention and dissent in civil societies, ranging from subtle forms such as channeling dissent into other avenues to violent coercion through the use of physical force (Earl 2011; Peterson and Wahlström 2014). This contribution explores the structure and practice of meetings under risk of being infiltrated or surveilled by state authorities. I address the question of how activist assemblies change once a social movement faces intense state repression. I draw on semi-structured interviews with key activist of the Catalan Independence Movement. Since announcing to hold a referendum without the consent of Spanish political authorities, the Catalan Independence Movement has faced severe state repression. This includes raids of associations and private homes, police violence against voters and protesters on the day of the referendum itself, detentions and imprisonment and an ongoing trial against its leaders (Barceló 2018). The interview data reveal that this general context of repression leads to perceived climate of surveillance among activists. In particular, there are two potential threats to activist meetings: infiltration by undercover police and monitoring of supporting ICTs. Describing three case studies, I show how these potential dangers affect social movement assemblies in different ways. The first case is a neighborhood assembly from Tarragona, which restricted the access of strangers to its meetings. The second case is an assembly in a neighborhood in Barcelona, which formally maintained its open character, but essentially removed all decision-making from the main assembly to smaller committees. The third case is an assembly from a small town in central Catalonia, which did not take any of these measures. How to explain these different effects? I suggest they are the result of a shift in relationships of trust among activists. Surveillance puts into jeopardy the generalized trust that is required for social movement assemblies (cf. Haug 2013). Instead, activists rely on relationships of personal trust. This supposes limiting access to strangers in the first two cases. In the small town context of the third case, the assembly has always been relying on personal trust, which is why no change took place when repression set in. These changes of meeting practices have two important consequences for social movements: First, repression factionalizes the movement. When access to assemblies is limited, networking and exchanges across activist groups become more difficult. Second, rather than being open forums for deliberation and debate, social movement assemblies become encapsulated spaces. Thus, the effects of repression on the generalized trust among activists harm democratic practices within social movements. In sum, this article sheds light on social movement assemblies in a context of state repression.

This represents an important contribution to both meeting research and social movement studies.


Barceló, Joan. 2018. “Batons and Ballots: The Effectiveness of State Violence in Fighting against Catalan Separatism.” Research & Politics 5(2).

Earl, Jennifer. 2011. “Political Repression: Iron Fists, Velvet Gloves, and Diffuse Control.” Annual Review of Sociology 37(1): 261–84.

Haug, Christoph. 2013. “Organizing Spaces: Meeting Arenas as a Social Movement Infrastructure between Organization, Network, and Institution.” Organization Studies 34(5–6): 705–732.

Peterson, Abby, and Mattias Wahlström. 2014. Repression . eds. Donatella Della Porta and Mario Diani. Oxford University Press.


11. Communication across cultural and political divides: on the utility of categorization analysis for understanding meeting-talk

Christoph Haug, University of Gothenburg

One of the key contributions of conversation analysis (CA) has been to show how meaning is accomplished sequentially. This insight is undoubtedly very valuable for the analysis of meeting-talk, as has been demonstrated in numerous studies. Yet, there is an important limitation to CA’s “next-turn-proof-procedure”: it only works if the next turn can indeed be heard as a next turn. While this is the case in the paradigmatic speech exchange system of CA (i.e. ordinary conversation), meetings often constitute a different speech exchange system where turns are pre-allocated to varying degrees so that next turns are not necessarily heard (or even hearable) as next turns. As a result, neither participants nor analyst can rely on next turns for understanding the meaning of the previous turn.

In the present paper, I suggest that in such situations the analyst can turn to categories as the main resource for the (re)construction of meaning and that (membership) categorization analysis provides the tools study the semantics of implicit as well as explicit categories in use. In a sample analysis of an international assembly of social movement activists during the COP21 climate summit in Paris (video recorded), I show how categorization analysis renders visible the ongoing negotiation of meaning among the activists as well as how the formal turn-taking system of the assembly facilitates the inclusiveness of these negotiations across political and cultural divides.

The findings are discussed with regard to the revived debate about the relationship between CA and membership categorization analysis.


12. Looking through meetings; epistemic activism in the United States, three ways

Jennifer Sandler, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Across the United States, people are engaged in meetings that aim, through complex and diverse projects, to shift how power thinks about growing problems of poverty, inequality, violence, and social suffering. But these projects are not usually studied as a whole; they are usually divided up into types and fields, isolated and picked apart. How do we see scientific activism, social movement activism, and policy activism in the same frame? I suggest that the primary everyday activity that structures each project – meetings – provide the answer.

Meeting ethnography is uniquely suited to theory building on a complex socio-political landscape that defies conventional typologies of discipline, organizational category, scale, method, and ideology. Meetings are good not just as objects to look at , but as sites through which to see important things about collective projects, movements, and organizations. Meeting ethnography, or a richly anthropological focus on meetings (Schwartzman, 1980; Sandler and Thedvall, 2017), is a methodological approach that enables researchers to use participant observation in and of meetings to understand the practical everyday manifestations of major politically salient themes such as power, identity, and epistemology. In particular, meeting ethnography allows researchers to examine such themes across many of the usual silos of social inquiry and civil society.

This paper presentation will illustrate the utility of meeting ethnography for looking across diverse civil society projects in the United States. I will examine three distinct projects: a policy reform coalition, a science advocacy network, and a social movement. I will utilize the meeting ethnography framework to look at the landscape of meetings in each project, as well as some of the specific meeting practices and how they function organizationally and politically (internally and externally to each project). This inquiry across projects enables an analysis of the epistemic politics of these three quite distinct projects. Meeting ethnography over the long term in each site suggests three wholly distinct epistemic projects, and shows how these epistemic politics are designed, mobilized, and have effects within a dominant epistemology shaped by neoliberal efficiency metrics.

If science advocates, localist political and social reformers, and immigrant social movement activists are struggling against the same dominant U.S. epistemology in such wholly different ways, how do we make sense of that struggle in terms that go beyond anecdote and case study? There is a need for theory development, which requires rigorous engagement with — and, somehow, across — the everyday practices of each project. Ultimately, I show that meeting ethnography enables us to do just that. By looking through each project’s meetings using a theoretically rigorous ethnographic approach, we are able to hold these different civic projects together in the same frame, to see an important epistemic “slice” of civil society.


13. Situated Co-operative Creativity: Solving emergent problems in situ

Brian Due, Dept. of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen

Research in creativity diverge into many different areas: Usually, the approach is to focus on individuals personality or cognition (Runco, 1998) or group problem solving capacities from functional perspectives (Gouran & Hirokawa, 1996). These approaches may span what has been called big-C, pro-C and little-C (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009). There are also some research from a mini-C perspective, typically from business context, looking into how ideas are created during meetings (Due, 2016). In this presentation I will outline the elements to a theory of creativity, that diverge from these approaches. Based on ethnomethodology, I will show how creativity is an everyday social and situated accomplishment involved whenever people encounter and orient to emergent problems. This has also been the aim within some anthropological theories. But although these apply an emergent approach to peoples improvising actions (Hallam & Ingold, 2008), they tend to only be looking at the creation of culture on a more societal level. Based on four examples from different institutional and mundane settings, I will on the contrary show how participants make emergent problems accountable through multimodal social interactions, and how they creatively co-operate to achieve solutions that are specifically suited to fit the haecceity of their current situation (Garfinkel, 1967). These examples are from video ethnographic studies and will focus on visibility in video-mediated interaction, robot-interaction and business meetings. They will show how creativity is a non-scripted, mundane, basically human resource that is co-operatively accomplished as improvisations to emergent problems (cf. C. Goodwin, 2018; M. H. Goodwin & Cekaite, 2018). This research has implications for our theoretical understandings and for practitioners who strive to better understand the nature of creativity.


Due, B. L. (2016). Co-constructed imagination space: a multimodal analysis of the interactional accomplishment of imagination during idea-development meetings. CoDesign , 0 (0), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/15710882.2016.1263668

Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology . Englewood Cliffs, N. J.

Goodwin, C. (2018). Why Multimodality? Why co-operative action? Social Interaction. Video-Based Studies of Human Sociality , 1 (2).

Goodwin, M. H., & Cekaite, A. (2018). Embodied Family Choreography: Practices of Control, Care, and Mundane Creativity (1 edition). Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York: Routledge.

Gouran, D. S., & Hirokawa, R. Y. (1996). Functional theory and communication in decision-making and problem-solving groups: An expanded view. In RY Hirokawa and MS Poole (eds.) Communication and group decision-making (pp. 55–80). Sage, Thousand Oaks (.

Hallam, E., & Ingold, T. (Eds.). (2008). Creativity and Cultural Improvisation . New York, NY: Berg Publishers.

Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2009). Beyond big and little: The four c model of creativity. Review of General Psychology , 13 (1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013688

Runco, M. A. (1998). Personal explicit theories of creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior , 32 (1), 1–17.


14. Framestorming and refraiming – are we asking the right questions when looking for solutions with groups?

Kenneth Agerholm, Consultant and founder in FLOK and Now Is The Time guest professor in AB Banku Business School, Riga

Most facilitators, leaders and meeting moderators have conducted ”brainstorms” in search for solutions. The outcome of these sessions mostly turn out to be mildly futile. FRAMESTORMING is reversing this process: facilitating a process looking for new root causes rather than new solutions – resulting in multiple perspectives and solutions.

Reframing (framestorming): The point of reframing is not to find the “real” problem but, rather, to see if there is a better one to solve. In fact, the very idea that a single root problem exists may be misleading; problems are typically multi-causal and can be addressed in many ways. (Tina Seeligl, Stanford Professor)

Problem: As facilitators, leaders and coaches we often have a disproportionate belief that posing the right ”good” question to a group, leads to the best solutions.

Central claim: We (companies, facilitators, leaders) should be much more engaged in searching out different root courses and challenges, rather than searching out many solutions based on the one or two questions we can perceive.

This paper is based on the following sources and theoretical background:

  • 15 years of experiences as a meeting facilitator in more than 1000 brainstorms and framestorm sessions in organizations and businesses in Scandinavia and the Baltics.
  • Researches by professor Tina Seelig – Ph.d. in neuroscience, Stanford University
  • Researches by Danish researcher Pia Lauritzen Ph.d. – specific her research into questions.
  • Platon, Heidegger and Kirkegaard

Methodology: Framestorming as a term have been coined by Tina Seelig. And recently it has been rewritten by consultant Thomas Wedell Wedellsborg and professor Paddy Miller.

  1. Move from ”problem framing” to ”solutions space”
  2. Now framestorm the problem by finding multiple root causes, ”framings” and problems that surround the original challenge. Remember to disrespect the original framing of the challenge.
  3. Make sure you don´t try to find solutions. Make sure you don’t disguise a solution as a question.
  4. Take each of the different root causes and reframing and idea generate solutions.
  5. Select some solutions and take them through a (design thinking like) process.

Practical experience and example: A large Danish engineer company was asked by the local synagogue to solve the sound problem in the church. The problem being that congregation could hardly understand what the old wise rabbi was saying in the synagogue. They asked for a complete rebuild of the inner church to create a better overall sound. The company calculated the rebuild to cost 2 million Danish Crowns. However in computer simulations the result was disappointing.

I was asked to help on task – and we performed a framestorming process resulting in another root cause, with another solution: a voice training course for the rabbi – at the price of 7.500,- Danish Crowns.

We create frames for what we experience, and they both inform and limit the way we think. (Tina Seelig, Stanford Professor)


15. Meeting Places, Meeting Spaces and Creative Collaboration: A Case Study

Gina Poncini, Humanities and Social Sciences, Khalifa University

This paper examines the design of meeting spaces and the potential of this design to foster interaction and collaboration at meetings. It uses a case study approach to examine a set of newly designed “unconventional” meeting environments within a wider venue for industry events in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It gives attention to the way these spaces came into being following the initiative of practitioners interested in making meetings more engaging and meaningful, and it reports on the preliminary use of these new meeting places and the kinds of interactions enabled.

The role that space design plays in facilitating creative collaboration is the focus of work by Doorley & Wittholft (2012) and their colleagues at the d.school at Stanford University. For this case study of spaces and meetings, it is interesting to give attention to the journey the practitioners took, from their observations of delegates at meetings, to their activities aimed at learning more about meetings, their formats, and research on meetings. They were the ones to initiate changes in their own organization’s meetings, which in turn led to their organization’s development of new “unconventional” spaces for their clients’ use with a view to fostering greater engagement, creativity, and collaboration.

Data consist of ethnographic observations while visiting the meeting spaces; semi-structured interviews with the two practitioners that initiated the change and the development of the new spaces; videos produced by participants for pilot meetings and events; and selected materials and texts, including texts promoting other meeting spaces.

A qualitative approach is used to develop the case study, integrating observations, interviews and selected written texts and images. The paper develops a framework for investigating the meeting spaces and physical environment by drawing on concepts and insights presented in Doorley & Wittholft (2012) and relating them to collaboration and different configurations of interaction. For example, in examining one of the spaces (observation, video and/or photos), attention may be given to space allowing different ways to move, such as open space; seating (e.g. nonprescriptive seating; multiple seating heights); the use of vertical space (p. 23); writing surfaces; and other concepts presented by the authors. A discourse analytic approach is taken when examining texts.

Practical implications stem from the collaboration between practitioners and an academic who share an interest in meetings. Working together on the theme of meetings, meeting formats and meeting spaces, while in the new spaces themselves, makes for a richer understanding leading to new insights about meetings and best practices. This collaboration can also help develop better ways to assess the impact meeting spaces and format have on making meetings engaging and meaningful to participants.


Amabile, T. M., and Pillemer, J. (2012). Perspectives on the Social Psychology of Creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior 46(1): 3–15.

Doorley, S., & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration . Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


16. Work Place Meetings for Learning in Organizations: Making Use of Customization Practices

Nikolas Käkelä & Annika Engström, School of Engineering, Department of Supply Chain and Operations Management, Jönköping University

Meetings in the work place is important for sharing information, solving problems, developing and implementing an organizational strategy and hosting team debriefings (Mroz et al., 2018). This paper explores work place meetings’ role for organizational learning and performance in customization settings. In efforts to create customer value, many companies adopt a manufacturing approach known as Engineer-To-Order (ETO) manufacturing, where products are engineered and designed according to the needs of individual customers (Gosling, 2009). As the products are often one-of-a-kind, special demands are put on the manufacturer’s ability to communicate seeing as they for each customer order must respond to different customer requirements. To build procedures and arenas that promotes communication can therefore be decisive for efficient fulfillment of customization tasks (i.e. customer orders), but also trigger organizational learning.

Meetings can function as such an arena while also fostering employee engagement (Allen and Rogelberg, 2013) and acting as foundation for organizations to learn (Edmondson, 2012). Meetings at work are of significant interest in research (Allen et al. , 2008) which reflects the increasing time spent on meetings in practice (Rogelberg et al. , 2006). Complex tasks, such as order fulfillment for ETO manufacturers, requires teamwork which tends to lead to further meetings in the workplace (Geimer et al. , 2015). It is during these meetings that individuals in different groups with different functions create an understanding of a task and at the same time learn collectively (Edmondson, 2012; Ellström, 2001).

In a collaborative research project common challenges in terms of communication throughout customer order fulfillment processes at five ETO manufacturing companies have been analyzed. Various types of meetings have been identified that promotes communication and serves as structures for learning. Some meetings identified are at a concrete level of action, where employees learn about the specific customer order project, the process involved or work procedures in operations. In those meetings they are communicating with each other and with customers to solve the task at hand, which stimulates organizational learning. Other meetings, at an abstract level of action, step back from practical action and adopt a structural perspective on communication, where learning by reflection and evaluation stimulates the work place to become a learning organization. Meetings for specific customer order projects, processes and operations are considered, as well as meetings supporting learning for the organization as a whole. Successful procedures for meetings at both a concrete and abstract level can strengthen the ETO manufacturers ability to not only efficiently fulfill customer orders, but also grants a sustainable influx of learning into the organization.


17. Analyzing student interactions at the studio space: Cluster supervision as a design meeting

Sille Julie Jøhnk Abildgaard, Copenhagen Business School, Dep. of Marketing

The study presented here is a part of my Ph.D. project, which presents an interactional perspective to the analysis of student interactions at the studio space, 21st century skills, and the design education pedagogy of Studio-Based Learning. The project is based on the analysis of extensive video recordings at different studio settings across a variety of higher education sites (design schools, professional bachelor programs, and business schools) (Heath, Hindmarsh, & Luff, 2010). The framework is inspired ethnomethodological conversation analysis (EMCA) and multimodal analysis (Garfinkel, 1967; Heath, Knoblauch, & Luff, 2000; Mondada, 2010; Sacks, 1992; Streeck, Goodwin, & LeBaron, 2011).

In this study, I analyze video recordings of student interactions (and student-teacher interactions) during two 4h cluster supervisions, which is a part of an interdisciplinary master’s programme “Strategic Design and Entrepreneurship” with students from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) and Copenhagen Business School (CBS). The cluster supervision has a facilitated structure with certain rules for participation (Matthews, 2009) and is framed as a design meeting i.e. a social design activity during a design process (McDonnell & Lloyd, 2009).

The purpose of the cluster supervision is to support the groups in their process of developing a strategic design proposal for a client organization. The supervision is divided into two clusters (each with four groups), in which the students are given the change to reflect and comment upon each others’ work and process (in addition to feedback from the teachers). Each cluster of groups will meet 4 times with each session lasting 4h (1h per group).

Through a close analysis of the students’ interactions, I examine how the rules for participation i.e. comments and feedback are used, and sometimes ignored, in the course of the cluster supervision sessions. Through selected empirical excerpts, I will look closer at how the students orient to the rules of the cluster supervision (and thus the production and maintenance of social order).

The topic of design meetings will be of interest to academic scholars and design practitioners at any level, along with researchers from a variety of design disciplines and social studies.


Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology . Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2010). Video in qualitative research: Analysing social interaction in everyday life. London: SAGE.

Heath, C., Knoblauch, H., & Luff, P. (2000). Technology and social interaction: the emergence of “workplace studies.” The British Journal of Sociology , 51 (2), 299–320. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2000.00299.x

Matthews, B. (2009). Intersections of brainstorming rules and social order. CoDesign , 5 (1), 65–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/15710880802522403

McDonnell, J., & Lloyd, P. (Eds.). (2009). About: Designing – Analysing Design Meetings . London: CRC Press.

Mondada, L. (2010). Understanding as an embodied, situated and sequential achievement in interaction. Journal of Pragmatics , 43 , 542–552. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.08.019

Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on Conversation . Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Streeck, J., Goodwin, C., & LeBaron, C. D. (2011). Embodied interaction: Language and Body in the Material World . (J. Streeck, C. Goodwin, & C. D. LeBaron, Eds.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

18. Event connectivity: remapping the social role of mental health service users through a chain of meetings

Sophie Thunus and Carole Walker, Institute of Health and Society, UCLouvain

This paper draws on a conception of “meetings as brackets in time and space”, that is, distinct social events capable of reflection on their environment (reference to the authors’ work). It provides an empirically grounded argument on a processual collective reflection, unfolding through interrelated meeting events, about the evolving social role of mental health service users (MSU). Specifically, it claims that meetings derive their agency as they connect different types of meetings which differ according to their level of separateness from and connectedness to their environment. Thus, a heterogeneous chain of meetings would guide the collective reflection examined throughout this paper.

This paper analyses this chain of meetings by relying on ethnographic and focus group material collected for a research designed to evaluate the organisation of mental health services in the Brussels area from September 2017 to September 2018. This project, called Parcours.Brussels, gave priority to the perspectives of former or current MSUs. These people (n=27) were recruited through “alternative spaces” which are not formerly associated with traditional mental health services. They are inclusive spaces which voluntarily dissolve or at least deemphasize both social and diagnostic categories in every day interactions. They are mostly centrally situated and accessible to anyone passing by, regardless of their mental health history.

The research participants were deliberately encountered in different contexts including (1) planned but informal meetings taking place within alternative spaces (natural context); and (2) planned and formal meetings held for the research purpose in neutral settings (experimental meetings).

The research process thus embodied an original history of meetings bringing together, on a regular basis, people from very different worlds in different contexts. This paper analyses this chain of meetings by relying on the metaphor of “meeting in brackets”, which borrows from system and process theories. The metaphor draws focus on the distinctiveness of meetings as communicative events involving interrelated sequences of observation and auto-observation. In this regard, the meetings analysed in this paper (1) enabled participants to observe different ways of making sense of their role and (2) offered opportunities to perform their role differently depending on their perception of the meeting context.

Moreover, the metaphor highlights that meetings act as brackets in a text. They make a difference that makes sense in relation to other differences. The iterative selection and articulation of differences is achieved through interrelated sequences of meeting communications, from one meeting to the next. This paper thus argues that meetings derive their agency in orienting a collective reflection on the social role of people with a history of MSU from their embeddedness in a chain of meetings. This chain of meetings combines (1) informal meetings taking place in natural contexts, as well as (2) formal or experimental meetings taking place in artificial contexts

– both characterized by different degrees of connectedness with and separation from their environment. This paper examines the specific impact of such a chain of meetings on collective and reflective processes relating to transformations within MSUs’ social roles.


Allen, G. (2011). Intertextuality. London and New York: Routledge.

Duffy, M. (2016). The Agency of Meetings as Systemic Process in the Constitution of Organizations: Insights from a Longitudinal Study and Bifocal Analysis of an Organizations Meetings.

Freeman, R. (2008). Learning by meeting. Critical Policy Studies, 2(1), 1-24.

Haug, C. (2013). Organizing Spaces: Meeting Arenas as a Social Movement Infrastructure between Organization, Network, and Institution. Organization Studies, 34(5-6), 705-732.

Jarzabkowski, P., & Seidl, D. (2008). The Role of Meetings in the Social Practice of Strategy. Organization Studies, 29(11), 1391-1426.

Luhmann, N. (2006). System as Difference. Organization, 13(1), 37-57.

Schwartzman, H. B. (1989). The Meeting: Gatherings in Organizations and Communities. New York: Plenum Press. Weick, K. E., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking. Organization Science, 16(4), 409-421.

19. Visual collaboration – Visual Facilitation – System visualization

Ole Qvist-Sørensen, BiggerPicture

How a more visual way of working in meetings can transform the way we think, communicate and collaborate Visually collaborating in meetings can bring system understanding, ownership and commitment in a group dealing with complex contexts. More and more time is spent in meetings where we need to reach results faster. THE FIVE VISUAL DESIGN LOOPS is a practical method for learning visual facilitation.

Visual facilitation offers a new and effective way of working. It is a technique that can give you, your colleagues, and your meeting participants a way to reach clarity when working with complex contexts.

A facilitator manages a process in a way which makes the interaction in a group of people easier. A visual facilitator uses visual tools to do that. A visual facilitator uses visual tools and techniques, including simple drawing that anyone can learn, to enhance communication and clarity. When we draw, we have to show what we mean. Drawings can bring complex processes into coherent focus and help a group of people, faster, develop and reach shared system understanding.

This specific approach to visual facilitation is based on a set of fundamental systems theory assumptions, a focus on group learning and the idea that places where social processes unfold can be considered visual learning arenas. We call this approach SYSTEM VISUALIZATION.

We propose that most processes (meetings, workshops, conferences and projects) can benefit from adopting a more visual way of working. THE FIVE DESIGN LOOPS makes it easier to get started working visually.

Over the last 15 years we have trained more than 10,000 people in working visually. This includes teachers, presenters, meeting managers, students, politicians, consultants, change agents, managers, designers, and engineers. We have developed more than 500 strategic tools, large and small, for a diverse range of organizations, and we have designed, facilitated, and drawn for a large number of meetings, workshops, and conferences.

It has been our experience that a visual working culture can strengthen the way groups of people think, communicate, and collaborate. A more visual way of working delivers: increased efficiency (we work better, smarter, faster), stronger knowledge systems (develops learning organizations), improved understanding across cultures (more diversity and inclusion) and higher engagement (co-created and co-owned results). And it’s fun.