Meetings bloody meetings! A Goffmanesque approach to interaction work in change meetings

Amanda Mead, Richard Badham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Despite increasing recognition being given to the uncertain, complex and emergent nature of change and its management, what those formally involved in change management 'actually do' is far less often explored. This paper will contribute to an improved understanding of how change management work is done. One unexplored area of change management practice is the micro dynamics of interaction in change meetings. Three recent studies drawing on Mintzberg's classic investigation (Mintzberg, 1973) investigated how senior managers involved in major cultural changes in steel plants spent their time (Hoeksma, 2003, Laeven, 2002, Nilsson, 2003). The main findings were that these managers spent over 50% of their time in complex meetings managing potentially competing and/or conflicting needs with more than three other participants from different sections and levels in the plant. The purpose of this paper is to explore the micro dynamics of interaction in such change meetings. The ritual perspective is one useful way of examining the social dynamics of practice in this area, We characterise change meetings as transition rituals and employ a Goffmanesque interaction work approach to allow us to explore the complexities of participative multi-hierarchy cross-functional change meetings. The intention is to further develop Goffman's views of how the different features of Interaction Work intertwine and mediate between 'macro' contexts and the 'micro' dynamics of self and identity in change meetings. We focus the analysis on tbe phases, processes and issues involved in change meeting rituals, particularly focusing on the micro dynamics of liminality. We believe that a systematic framework capturing and providing the basis for updating and further developing these insights is valuable. We present the early beginnings of such a framework and illustrate it with a representative anecdote.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th APROS International Colloquium
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventAsia Pacific Researcher in Orgnaisation Studies International Colloquium (APROS) (12th : 2007) - New Delhi, India
Duration: 9 Dec 200712 Dec 2007


ConferenceAsia Pacific Researcher in Orgnaisation Studies International Colloquium (APROS) (12th : 2007)
CityNew Delhi, India


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