The public defense of Anna Uhlin’s doctoral thesis in Industrial economics and organisation
The public defense of Anna Uhlin’s doctoral thesis ”You are on mute…” Enabling coming together in digitally mediated meetings in Industrial economics and organisation will take place at Mälardalen University, room Kappa at 13.00 on October 28, 2022.
Titel: ”You are on mute…” Enabling coming together in digitally mediated meetings.
The faculty examiner is Professor Brigid Carroll, University of Auckland, New Zealand and the examining committee consists of Docent Karin Bredin, Linköping University, Sweden, Docent Renita Thedvall, Stockholm University, Sweden and Associate professor Attila Bruni, University of Trento, Italy.
Reserve: Docent Peter Johansson, Mälardalen University, Sweden.
The doctoral thesis has serial number 366.
Planned work meetings are commonly used for gathering people to accomplish things together. The assumption that in organized meetings people come together is challenged once digital technologies become part of the performance of meetings. Understanding meetings in and with digital technologies requires investigation of how coming together is made possible in the first place. Thus, this study aims to contribute to develop knowledge on how coming together in planned digitally mediated meetings is enabled.
To this end, I mobilize a theoretical and methodological framework inspired by praxiography and sociomateriality, and I approach the purpose of the study by looking at, first, what work practices enact the planned digitally mediated meeting, and second in what ways such enactments enable coming together. To study these issues empirically, I performed observations of planned recurrent meetings of three teams within the multinational company, MultiCorp, as well as interviews with team participants.
What emerges in the analysis is first that the often assumed-to-be already-organized frames for meetings – shared time, space, purpose, and participants – need to be constantly enacted in work practices. Instead of being matters-of-fact that frame the meeting before it occurs, these aspects also emerge as continuous sociomaterial work occurring during the meeting event. Second, the planned digitally mediated meeting event emerges not as one meeting but as many co-existing meetings, each of them with its local sense produced in situ. Therefore, what we might call technological flaws, such as disruptions and malfunctioning connections, make local sense to the meeting given that they are part of the assemblages continuously reproducing the multiple meetings during meeting events. Third, understanding agency as continuously flowing through practices, rather than as attributed to actors, sheds light on how coming together in the digitally mediated meeting is enabled, showing for instance how what I call sociomaterial blindness is due to more than the combination of human intention plus digital technologies.
Acknowledging planned digitally mediated meetings as continuously enacted sociomaterial spaces for exploration and creativity, rather than structured spaces controlled by humans, invites an understanding of meetings as ‘good’ also when they ‘only’ enable coming together. Enabling coming together understood as a matter of continuous enactments, both before and during meeting events, contributes to knowledge on how we can accomplish things beyond meeting enactment in digitally mediated meetings.