Pre-closing formulations in Meeting Talk : A Study of a Cross-functional Team Meeting at Ericsson in Stockholm

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för kultur och lärande

Abstract: Meetings are important arenas where institutional roles and relationships are acted out. Conversation analysis, a data-driven qualitative methodology utilized to study naturally occurring talk-in-interaction, was used in this study to uncover the mechanisms behind meeting talk. In a meeting shared understanding is essential and must be done in an economical manner. One interactional device to reach common agreement are formulations that summarize what has been said or draw out its relevant implication. In this essay, a sub-class of formulations, pre-closing formulations, are in focus. They serve to close the current topic and move on to the next. The aim of this thesis was to find out what kind of interactional devices are used in pre-closure formulations. The findings from the analysis of data, from a cross-functional team meeting at Ericsson in Stockholm, show how a pre-closing formulation followed by silence from the participants is the basis for an agreement. Furthermore the chair can utilize a pre-closing formulation to emphasize the topic of discussion and to influence the sense-making and thus “do” leadership. With a pre-closing formulation the meeting participants can be prepared to be held accountable for the status in a project. However, a pre-closing must not lead to a closing of the topic, the findings show how meeting participants act to continue after the chair’s candidate pre-closing formulation.

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