The Meeting pp 145-172 | Cite as

Meetings, Time, and Attention

  • Helen B. Schwartzman


When the processes of meeting construction are examined, as they were in the previous chapter, one important characteristic that stands out is the fact that, in order to have a meeting, it is necessary for individuals to allot time to it. As has already been demonstrated, this is not an easy task in a system where there are many competing claims (most of them other meetings) on one’s time (see March and Olsen 1976, especially pp. 38–53). This means that it becomes important to understand how and why individuals decide to allot time to particular meetings or to other gatherings. Once individuals at Midwest agreed to allot time and attention to a meeting, however, there was a very good chance that the meeting would recur and that it might even proliferate. The dynamics of this process and its effect on the lives of individuals at the center are the subject of this chapter. I begin by describing the major types of meetings that existed at Midwest. This is followed by a brief portrait of a typical day as it was experienced “from meeting to meeting” from the perspective of a staff member and also the researcher. The idea of meeting cycles and their effect on the ability of individuals to do “things” in this context such as respond to issues, make decisions, resolve problems, and so forth is presented here in preparation for a more detailed discussion of these issues in Chapters 7 through 9.


Board Meeting Staff Meeting Committee Meeting Council Member Council Meeting 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen B. Schwartzman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Center for Urban Affairs and Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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