The Art of Communication : Investigating the Dynamics of Work Group Meetings in a Natural Environment

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University

Abstract: Meetings in work groups are important organisational arenas to form ideas, share knowledge, and co-ordinate and develop work. Therefore, meetings are a potential source to innovation and efficiency in organisations, as well as to a means to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace. One approach in previous research on group interaction has been to codify verbal utterances and link various communication patterns to group performance. However, missing in previous research is how the interaction pattern in a group emerges and how behaviour of the group affects the interaction pattern. This thesis focuses on behavioural and contextual factors and their impact on the interaction pattern of work groups. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how the interactional pattern of meetings is influenced by the behaviour of the leader, the behaviour of the group members, and the structure of the meeting.To investigate the link between contextual factors and the interaction patterns, group observations were conducted in management teams and work groups, during their ordinary meetings. As a basis for observation, Losada & Heaphy’s (2004) communication model was applied, which showed a link between a specific communication pattern and high performance. The findings of the present thesis suggest that the leader plays a significant role for the outcome of the interactional pattern of a meeting and that he or she can contribute in several ways. Equally important to the interactional pattern of management teams and work groups is the effort and commitment expended by the other participants. The findings further show that the structure of the meeting is relevant: For example, structuring the meeting as a case discussion rather than a traditional meeting agenda results in a more dynamic interaction. By examining how the interaction is affected by leader behaviour, employee participation and meeting structure, the thesis contributes to the existing literature in the field of interaction analysis.

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