Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: August 2015

11 - A Systemic View of Meetings

from Macro Meeting Context



Treating meetings collectively as a unit of analysis enables a holistic view of their theoretical foundations, their practical operation, and potential contribution to organizations. We draw on concepts from systems and process thinking, sensemaking and sensegiving, and organizational collective mind to inform a systemic conceptualization of organizational meetings. A systemic conceptualization of organizational meetings sees meetings as interconnected elements in an ongoing process of organizational sensemaking, rather than as discrete or isolated events. Using data from more than 60 meetings in one organization, we develop a systemic meetings model incorporating retrospective and prehensive sensemaking as the principal categories of connections between past, present, and future meetings. A systemic perspective on meetings views them not only as an integrated whole but also as a process of connected events unfolding in time. The emergent organizational process is termed “collective minding,” requiring greater mindfulness of how meetings are deployed and increased heedfulness of how they are interconnected in practice. Collective minding accounts for how meetings systemically manifest, contribute to, and sustain collective mind over time in organizations.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge Handbook of Meeting Science
  • Online ISBN: 9781107589735
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Balogun, J., & Johnson, G. (2005). From intended strategies to unintended outcomes: The impact of change recipient sensemaking. Organization Studies, 26, 15731601. doi: 10.1177/0170840605054624
Boden, D. (1994). The business of talk. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Boden, D. (1997). Temporal frames: Time and talk in organizations. Time & Society, 6, 533. doi: 10.1177/0961463×97006001001
Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Checkland, P., & Scholes, J. (1999). Soft systems methodology in action. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Cooren, F. (2004). The communicative achievement of collective minding: Analysis of board meeting excerpts. Management Communication Quarterly, 17, 517551. doi: 10.1177/0893318903262242
Cooren, F. (2012). Communication theory at the center: Ventriloquism and the communicative constitution of reality. Journal of Communication, 62, 120. doi: 10.1111/j.1460–2466.2011.01622.x
Cooren, F., Kuhn, T., Cornelissen, J. P., & Clark, T. (2011). Communication, organizing and organization: An overview and introduction to the special issue. Organization Studies, 32, 11491170. doi: 10.1177/0170840611410836
Cooren, F., Matte, F., Taylor, J., & Vasquez, C. (2007). A humanitarian organization in action – Organizational discourse as an immutable mobile. Discourse and Communication, 1, 153190. doi: 10.1177/1750481307075996
Dittrich, K., Guerard, S., & Seidl, D. N. (2011). Meetings in the strategy process – toward an integrative framework. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, San Antonio, TX.
Duffy, M., & O'Rourke, B. K. (2012a). Building a systems view of strategic discourse across organizational meetings. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference Discourse and Organization: Practices, Processes, Performance, July 18–20, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Duffy, M., & O'Rourke, B. K. (2012b). Strategic discourse across organizational meetings – towards a systems perspective. Paper presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Process Organization Studies, June 21–23, Kos, Greece.
Duffy, M., & O'Rourke, B. K. (2013). Systemic contribution of organizational meetings to enhanced collective mind[ing]. Paper presented at the 29th EGOS Colloquium: Bridging Continents, Cultures and Worldviews, July 4–6, Montreal, Canada.
Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Gioia, D. A., & Chittipeddi, K. (1991). Sensemaking and sensegiving in strategic change initiation. Strategic Management Journal, 12, 433448. doi: 10.1002/smj.4250120604
Gioia, D. A., & Thomas, J. B. (1996). Identity, image, and issue interpretation: Sensemaking during strategic change in academia. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, 370403. doi: 10.2307/2393936
Hernes, T. (2014). A process theory of organization. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Langley, A. (2009). Studying processes in and around organizations. In Buchanan, D. A. & Byram, A. (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational research methods (pp. 409429). London, UK: Sage.
Langley, A., & Tsoukas, H. (2010). Introducing “Perspectives on process organization studies.” In Hernes, T. & Maitlis, S. (Eds.), Process, sensemaking and organizing (Vol. 1, pp. 1–21). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social – an introduction to actor-network-theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Maitlis, S. (2005). The social processes of organizational sensemaking. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 2149. doi: 10.5465/amj.2005.15993111
Maitlis, S., & Lawrence, T. B. (2007). Triggers and enablers of sensegiving in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 5784. doi: 10.5465/amj.2007.24160971
McPhee, R. D., & Zaug, P. (2000). The communicative constitution of organizations – a framework for explanation. Electronic Journal of Communication, 10. doi: 10.1177/0893318909351582
McPhee, R. D., & Zaug, P. (2009). The communicative constitution of organizations – a framework for explanation. In Putnam, L. L. & Nicotera, A. M. (Eds.), Building theories of organization: The constitutive role of communication (pp. 1–19). New York, NY: Routledge.
Meadows, D. H. (Ed.). (2009). Thinking in systems. London, UK: Earthscan.
Pettigrew, A. M. (1997). What is a processual analysis? Scandinavian Journal of Management, 13, 337348. doi: 10.1016/s0956–5221(97)00020–1
Rouleau, L., & Balogun, J. (2011). Middle managers, strategic sensemaking, and discursive competence. Journal of Management Studies, 48(7), 953983. doi: 10.1111/j.1467–6486.2010.00941.x
Schoeneborn, D. (2011). Organization as communication: A Luhmannian perspective. Management Communication Quarterly, 25, 663689. doi: 10.1177/0893318911405622
Schwartzman, H. B. (1986). The meeting as a neglected social form in organizational studies. Research in Organizational Behavior, 8, 233.
Schwartzman, H. B. (1989). The meeting. New York, NY: Plenum.
Scott, C. W., Shanock, L. R., & Rogelberg, S. G. (2011). Meetings at work: Advancing the theory and practice of meetings. Small Group Research, 43, 127129. doi: 10.1177/1046496411429023
Taylor, J. R., & Van Every, E. J. (2000). The emergent organization: Communications as its site and surface. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Tsoukas, H. (1996). The firm as a distributed knowledge system: A constructionist approach. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 1125. doi: 10.1002/smj.4250171104
von Bertalanffy, L. (1969). General system theory (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: George Braziller.
Weick, K. (1979). The social psychology of organizing (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Random House.
Weick, K. (1988). Enacted sensemaking in crisis situations. Journal of Management Studies, 25, 305317. doi: 10.1111/j.1467–6486.1988.tb00039.x
Weick, K. (1990). The vulnerable system: An analysis of the Tenerife air disaster. Journal of Management, 16, 571. doi: 10.1177/014920639001600304
Weick, K. (1993). The collapse of sensemaking in organizations: The Mann Gulch disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 628652. doi: 10.2307/2393339
Weick, K. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. London, UK: Sage.
Weick, K. (2001). Making sense of the organization, Vol. 1. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Weick, K., & Roberts, K. (1993). Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 357381. doi:10.2307/2393372
Weick, K., & Sutcliffe, K. (2009). Hospitals as cultures of entrapment: A re-analysis of the Bristol Royal Infirmary. In Weick, K. E. (Ed.), Making sense of the organization – the impermanent organization (Vol. 2, pp. 175188). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K., & Obstfeld, D. (1999). Organizing for high reliability: Processes of collective mindfulness. In Sutton, R. I. & Staw, B. M. (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 1, pp. 81123). Stamford, CT: JAI.
Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science, 16, 409421. doi: 10.1287/orsc.1050.0133