Understanding workplace meetings; A qualitative taxonomy of meeting purposes

Joseph A. Allen, Tammy Beck, Cliff W. Scott, Steven G. Rogelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to propose a taxonomy of meeting 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, the authors consider a taxonomy as the appropriate classification scheme for meeting purpose. The authors then utilize the developed taxonomy to investigate the frequency with which a representative sample of working adults engaged in meetings of these varying purposes. Their proposed taxonomy provides relevant classifications for future research on meetings as well 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 taxonomy of meeting purpose. The authors discourse analysis utilizes open-ended survey responses from a sample of working adults (n = 491). Findings – The authors 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 were “to discuss ongoing projects” at 11.6 per cent and “to routinely discuss the state of the business” at 10.8 per cent. The two least common meeting purpose categories in this sample were “to brainstorm for ideas or solutions” at 3.3 per cent and “to discuss productivity and efficiencies” at 3.7 per cent. The taxonomy was analyzed across organizational type and employee job level to identify differences between those important organizational and employee characteristics. Research limitations/implications – The data suggested that meetings were 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..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-814
Number of pages24
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 12 2014


  • Classification schemes
  • Meeting purpose
  • Meetings
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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