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Management Research Review





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Purpose - Meetings are a workplace activity that deserves increased attention from researchers and practitioners. Previous researchers attempted to develop typologies of meeting purpose with limited success. Through a comparison of classification methodologies, we consider a taxonomy as the appropriate classification scheme for meeting purpose. The goal of our study is to propose a taxonomy of meeting purpose. We then utilize the developed taxonomy to investigate the frequency with which a representative sample of working adults engaged in meetings of these varying purposes. Our proposed taxonomy provides relevant classifications for future research on meetings and serves as a useful tool for managers seeking to use and evaluate the effectiveness of meetings within their organizations.

Design/methodology/approach – This study employs an inductive methodology using discourse analysis of qualitative meeting descriptions to develop a taxomomy of meeting purpose. Our discourse analysis utilizes open-ended survey responses from a sample of working adults (N = 491).

Findings - Our categorical analysis of open-ended questions resulted in a 16 category taxonomy of meeting purpose. The two most prevalent meeting purpose categories in this sample are “to discuss ongoing projects” at 11.6% and “to routinely discuss the state of the business” at 10.8%. The two least common meeting purpose categories in this sample are “to brainstorm for ideas or solutions” at 3.3% and “to discuss productivity and efficiencies” at 3.7%. The taxonomy is analyzed across organizational type and employee job level to identify differences between these important organizational and employee characteristics.

Implications – The data suggest that meetings are institutionalized in organizations making them useful at identifying differences between organizations as well as differences in employees in terms of scope of responsibility. Researchers and managers should consider the purposes for which they call meetings and how that manifests their overarching organizational focus, structure, and goals.

Originality/value - This is the first study to overtly attempt to categorize the various purposes for which meetings are held. Further, this study develops a taxonomy of meeting purposes that will prove useful for investigating the different types of meeting purposes in a broad range of organizational types and structures.


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