An introduction to the cambridge handbook of meeting science: Why now?

Joseph A. Allen, Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock, Steven G. Rogelberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


Meetings are an integral part of employees' everyday workplace experiences. In the workplace, people meet to generate ideas, talk about problems, develop solutions, and make decisions (e.g., Romano and Nunamaker, 2001; Van Vree, 2011). What happens in workplace meetings has implications for individual employee attitudes such as work freagement, as well as for team and organizational performance (Allen and Rogelberg, 2013; Kauffeld and Lehmann-Willenbrock, 2012). Today, there are more than 25 million meetings per day in the United States alone (Newlund, 2012). On average, employees of today's organizations spend 6 hours per week sitting in meetings (e.g., Rogelberg, Leach, Warr, and Burnfield, 2006; Schell, 2010). The work lives of employees in managerial positions are even more driven by meetings. A study with senior managers showed that these managers were sitting in meetings for 23 hours a week on average and were expected to have even more meetings in the future (Rogelberg, Scott, and Kello, 2007). The majority of a manager's workday is often spent preparing for meetings, sitting in meetings, or processing meeting results (e.g., Van Vree, 2011). It is likely that most managers spend more of their time on meeting-related activities than on any other activity in their work lives. These figures illustrate a key point: Meetings are ubiquitous and time-intensive workplace events. Practitioners have long recognized this and have built entire consulting practices around organizational meetings. An Amazon search in July 2014 for advice books on how to run meetings yielded 475 hits on topics ranging from planning and leading freaging meetings (e.g., Harvard Business Review, 2014) to collaborating in meetings (e.g., Canfield and Smith, 2011) to when to abandon meetings altogether (e.g., Ressler and Thompson, 2008). Astonishingly, however, a scientific look at meetings as a focal topic remains largely elusive. Granted, research certainly exists that examines constructs/events relevant to meetings and meeting attendees. For example, a body of research on teams and leadership exists, and this literature is certainly highly relevant to meetings – but it does not feature the study of meetings per se. Given that meetings are essential feature of organizations, the development of a meeting science is of paramount importance. Meeting science is the study of what happens before, during, and after meetings in the workplace. It is a look at the psychological, sociological, and anthropological underpinnings and consequences of meetings at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Meeting Science
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781107589735
ISBN (Print)9781107067189
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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