Maturity or gender? An abductive approach to study workplace meeting effectiveness
Keywords:meeting effectiveness, stratified systems theory, gender role, content of meetings, employee's time horizon
Meetings are an integral part of organisational life, and their effectiveness is essential both for organisations and their employees. Meeting literature provides a rich overview of various factors impacting meeting effectiveness; however, the content of meetings is neglected as an important factor of meeting effectiveness. The content of the meeting can be assessed through related tasks, which form the central tenets of stratified systems theory. Stratified systems theory posits that a specific job position category is associated with a particular time horizon and characteristic tasks. Therefore, we used stratified systems theory as an appropriate framing for the research to test how the fit between the meeting content (characteristic tasks) and the employee's time horizon contributes to perceived meeting effectiveness. The study draws on a quantitative research design. Data were collected via a survey of seven organisations in different industries in the Czech Republic (n=96). Regression models and ANOVA were used as methods for data analysis. The findings reveal that neither an employee's time horizon per se nor the fit between meeting content (characteristic tasks) and the employee's time horizon influence perceived meeting effectiveness, which does not support the main hypothesis. However, the data revealed three other interesting findings, which we elaborated on using an abductive approach. First, by controlling all possible discriminating factors (such as job position category, education, age, and characteristic tasks), we found that women operate within a shorter time horizon. Second, women perceive meetings as more effective. Third, while we found a fit between the employee's time horizon and job position category, we did not find a fit between the employee's time horizon and meeting content (characteristic tasks) nor a fit between the job position category and meeting content (characteristic tasks), which challenges stratified systems theory. The research results contribute to meeting effectiveness literature by challenging the role of job position categories and meeting content. However, in the first place, the results open up a space for a fruitful research inquiry into gender studies and stratified systems theory.