Workplace Meetings: Following the Action in Making Organisation Around the Table
This dissertation looks at meeting talk as organisational action, asking how meetings partly constitute “organisation”. It considers how meeting members use the phrase “out there” in their work. I conducted observation research, attending the fortnightly staff meetings of an office-based organisation for six months, audio-recording, taking notes and transcribing tapes shortly afterwards. I watched conversations, and following the methodological principles of actor-network theory (ANT), tried to avoid making prior assumptions about how this action was ordered. The phrase "out there" was used by meeting members in each of the workplace meetings attended. I have analysed what members were attending to each time the phrase was used. In three chapters, conversation analysis (CA) is used to carefully examine three uses of the phrase. I use the involvement of the phrase in the meetings to consider members' attempts to make organisational actions and realities. Is the use of the phrase part of the procedures enabling actors able to build shared worlds? I argue that "out there" refers to places and situations that exist precisely in what is made of them in these particular settings. Further, I suggest that we need to ask just where the effects of this making occur. Such effects occur not ”out there” or elsewhere, but here. More specifically, the dissertation considers how meeting members come to be allowed to undertake, and do undertake, the action in the meetings of proposing future actions, and being able to propose future actions forcefully and normatively. I suggest that first-hand experience is a valuable resource for suggesting and defending what the organisation should do next. The intention of this dissertation is to contribute to studies of talk in action and research in workplaces that attempts to understand organisational members' world-building activities.