There's something about meetings: Order and disorder in the study of meetings

Helen B. Schwartzman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


There's something about meetings that makes researchers and participants want to change them, control them, order them, and make them predictable. But there is also something about meetings that makes them resist these efforts at change, improvement, order, and predictability. In this chapter I explore the impact of this order-disorder dynamic on the study of meetings and suggest some reasons why investigators have been concerned with ordering meetings and continually troubled by the disorder that meetings may produce. This volume illustrates how our understanding of meetings in the workplace is both broadened and complicated when meetings are conceptualized as communicative events and when the focus is on examining “what happens before, during, and after meetings in the workplace” (see Chapter 1). This approach requires researchers to challfree the dominant urge to order meetings while at the same time emphasizing the importance of understanding the production and value of meeting disorder. I suggest that the order-disorder dynamic may be related to a series of “folk theories” about meetings, as well as the role of individuals in organizations, and I discuss the ways that individual chapters in this volume contest the folk theories that have been so prominent in guiding our research theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Meeting Science
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781107589735
ISBN (Print)9781107067189
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Ethnography of communication
  • Folk theories
  • Order-disorder
  • Scientific theories
  • The natural history of a meeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


Dive into the research topics of 'There's something about meetings: Order and disorder in the study of meetings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this