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The Science and Fiction of Meetings

Meetings are a central fact of organizational life. As a vehicle for communication, they can be extremely valuable mechanisms for disseminating vision, crafting strategic plans, and developing responses to challenges and opportunities. They can also be helpful for gathering ideas, brainstorming, and generating higher levels of employee involvement. But too many meetings are seen as a waste of time -- as a source of frustration rather than enlightenment. The authors explore some basic questions: How much time do people really spend in meetings? Are employees burning out from meeting overload? To what extent do people consider their time in meetings unproductive? And how can companies use meeting time better? To answer these questions, they look at a variety of sources: research and application literature; their own experiences working with clients; and data from two multinational studies of employees (including one that provided the basis of an article titled "'Not Another Meeting!' Are Meeting Time Demands Related to Employee Well-Being?" Journal of Applied Psychology 91, no. 1 (2006): 86-96, by Rogelberg, Leach, Warr and Burnfield). Based on these inquiries, they offer insights into the world of meetings and how organizations can use them more effectively.

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