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Perceived Meeting Effectiveness: The Role of Design Characteristics

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Purpose The aim of this investigation was to test hypotheses about meeting design characteristics (punctuality, chairperson, etc.) in relation to attendees’ perceptions of meeting effectiveness. Design/Methodology/Approach Two studies were conducted: Study 1 investigated meetings attended in a typical week (N = 958), whereas Study 2 examined the last meeting attended on a particular day (N = 292). Findings A number of design characteristics (in particular agenda use and quality of facilities) were found to be important in predicting perceived effectiveness. Attendee involvement served as a key mediator variable in the observed relationships. Neither meeting type nor size was found to affect the relationships of the design characteristics and involvement with effectiveness. Meeting size, however, was negatively related to attendee involvement. Implications The findings help us to better understand relationships between design characteristics and attendees’ perceptions of meeting effectiveness. Meeting organizers can use the findings to guide administration of meetings, with potential to enhance the quality of meetings. Originality/Value Meetings are a common organizational activity but are rarely the focus of empirical research. The use of two complementary studies, to our knowledge, provides a unique account of the contribution of design characteristics to perceptions of meeting effectiveness.
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Perceived Meeting Effectiveness: The Role of Design
Characteristics
Desmond J. Leach ÆSteven G. Rogelberg Æ
Peter B. Warr ÆJennifer L. Burnfield
Published online: 22 February 2009
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009
Abstract
Purpose The aim of this investigation was to test
hypotheses about meeting design characteristics (punctu-
ality, chairperson, etc.) in relation to attendees’ perceptions
of meeting effectiveness.
Design/Methodology/Approach Two studies were con-
ducted: Study 1 investigated meetings attended in a typical
week (N=958), whereas Study 2 examined the last
meeting attended on a particular day (N=292).
Findings A number of design characteristics (in partic-
ular agenda use and quality of facilities) were found to be
important in predicting perceived effectiveness. Attendee
involvement served as a key mediator variable in the
observed relationships. Neither meeting type nor size was
found to affect the relationships of the design characteris-
tics and involvement with effectiveness. Meeting size,
however, was negatively related to attendee involvement.
Implications The findings help us to better understand
relationships between design characteristics and attendees’
perceptions of meeting effectiveness. Meeting organizers
can use the findings to guide administration of meetings,
with potential to enhance the quality of meetings.
Originality/Value Meetings are a common organizational
activity but are rarely the focus of empirical research. The
use of two complementary studies, to our knowledge, pro-
vides a unique account of the contribution of design
characteristics to perceptions of meeting effectiveness.
Keywords Meeting effectiveness
Design characteristics Attendee involvement
Introduction
Much time and energy is devoted to work meetings (e.g.,
Volkema and Niederman 1995, p. 3), aiming to accomplish
goals such as information sharing, decision making, and
problem solving. Everyday experience makes it clear that,
although some meetings are effective, many others are not;
indeed, meetings are often viewed as ‘‘notorious time
wasters’’ (Sisco 1993, p. 63). Individuals’ views about
meeting effectiveness are manifestly important within
organizations, as they have the potential to affect attendance
at meetings, behavior in meetings, and the ability of meetings
to achieve their goals (cf. Bennett 1998). Such perceptions
may also feed into overall job attitudes and well-being and
affect longer-term decisions such as an individual’s intention
to leave his/her job (Rogelberg et al. 2006).
Work meetings can be characterized in a number of ways,
such as the presence or absence of an agenda, did the meeting
start on time, and was there a chairperson. These ‘design’
characteristics are typically under the control of the person
Received and reviewed by former editor, George Neuman.
D. J. Leach (&)
Leeds University Business School, Maurice Keyworth Building,
The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
e-mail: d.j.leach@lubs.leeds.ac.uk
S. G. Rogelberg
University of North Carolina Charlotte,
9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte,
NC 28223-0001, USA
P. B. Warr
Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield,
Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
J. L. Burnfield
Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO),
66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 700, Alexandria,
VA 22314-1591, USA
123
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
DOI 10.1007/s10869-009-9092-6
who calls or organizes meetings. Recommendations about
them are common in literature for practitioners, usually
being based on an author’s personal experiences, but they
have been rarely studied in academic terms. In this paper, we
examine the contribution of principal design characteristics
to employees’ perceptions of meeting effectiveness. In Study
1, we report patterns observed in connection with meetings
attended in a typical week. Study 2 permits a more detailed
analysis of a sub-set of key characteristics, and focuses on the
last meeting attended on a particular day.
Given the overall costs of poor meetings (e.g., collective
salary costs and wasted time), the practical importance of
understanding ways to promote meeting effectiveness is
obvious. From an academic and theoretical perspective,
despite their common use, there is a dearth of empirical
research. Schwartzman (1986) pointed out that meetings
have been used as a methodological tool to study other
topics such as small group decision-making, but rarely
studied empirically in their own right; the meeting is a
‘neglected social form in organizational studies.’’ Twenty
years later the same concern was echoed by Rogelberg
et al. (2006). This paper reports research evidence about
meeting design characteristics with two purposes: to pro-
vide an empirical foundation on which additional research
and theoretical work can build, and to yield practical
implications for those responsible for calling, organizing,
and leading meetings.
Study 1
Following a review of both the trade and academic litera-
tures on meetings, five principal design characteristics that
warrant further examination were identified: using an
agenda, keeping minutes, punctuality (starting and ending
on time), having appropriate meeting facilities, and having
a chairperson. Each of these is discussed next.
Using an Agenda
A prominent design characteristic concerns the meeting
agenda (e.g., Kieffer 1988; Tropman 1996; Volkema and
Niederman 1995). Spencer and Pruss (1992) suggest that a
meeting agenda has three key aims. The first is to relay
information concerning the location, date, and time of the
forthcoming meeting. The second aim is to pre-notify
attendees of the topics to be discussed. In an account for
practitioners Spencer and Pruss (1992) comment that ‘‘This
is of paramount importance, since members will be able to
prepare their own input to the meeting in advance which will
greatly speed up the meeting, make contributions more rel-
evant, keep people to the timetable and generally focus the
meeting more directly on the points to be dealt with’’ (pp
183–184). The third aim of the agenda is to state the order in
which the topics are to be discussed and (in some cases) how
much time is allotted for each item on the agenda.
Keeping Minutes
The act of recording discussions has the potential to be ben-
eficial in several ways, such as clarifying decisions, plans, and
assignments (e.g., a collective account of the meeting’s
viewpoint or separate comments by different people). It is
often suggested that records of this kind will increase the
likelihood that attendees will honour agreements made during
the meeting (e.g., Tropman 1996). Minutes can also com-
municate to attendees that what is occurring during the
meeting session is indeed noteworthy, thereby potentially
increasing meaningful attendee involvement.
Punctuality—Starting and Ending on Time
Starting a meeting when it is scheduled to start prevents the
wasting of time, and might encourage future punctuality
(LaForce 2004). Stated differently, waiting for latecomers
serves to encourage future lateness behavior as no apparent
penalty is incurred. Ending a meeting at a pre-scheduled
time has also been advocated in the meeting literature.
Promptness of both kinds enables attendees to reliably
schedule meetings around their personal work tasks,
thereby reducing the disruptive effects of meetings. Should
some issues remain undiscussed, Tropman (1996) suggests
that arrangements should be made for another meeting or
that the issues be dealt with separately.
Having Appropriate Meeting Facilities
Temperature, lighting, noise, and seating provision are key
aspects of the physical environment that have the potential
to affect the ability of a meeting to function well, increase
member comfort, and minimize distractions (Tropman
1996). Waddell and Rosko (1993) comment: ‘‘The room
should be spacious enough to avoid a closed-in feeling.
Having windows and a pleasant view, but not a distracting
vieware highly desirable’’ (p. 42). Several authors (e.g.,
Spencer and Pruss 1992) draw attention to the need to
provide for attendees’ comforts (e.g., refreshments) in part
to facilitate informal talk outside the meeting.
Having a Chairperson/Leader
As Carlozzi (1999) points out, the chairperson can facilitate
the attainment of meeting objectives by directing the pace
of the meeting and keeping the discussion on target. More
specifically, the chairperson or leader is often the person
who ‘‘calls meetings, sets the agenda, runs the meeting,
66 J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
123
makes assignments, and helps coordinate people’s efforts’’
(Sisco 1993, p. 63).
As illustrated above, there are grounds for expecting that
each of the design characteristics will have a positive effect
on perceptions of meeting effectiveness. Collectively, they
serve to structure, organize, and create a pleasant meeting
environment that can maximize the use of time rather than
serving to waste it. In connection with meetings attended
during a typical week (i.e., perceptions of meetings in
general), we therefore test the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1 The five aforementioned design charac-
teristics will each have a significant positive relationship
with perceived meeting effectiveness.
The aim of a well designed meeting (e.g., with effective
use of an agenda and a chairperson, good facilities) is to
facilitate discussions, decision-making, problem-solving and
so on by enabling attendees to be more fully involved in the
meeting with greater focus and fewer distractions (e.g.,
Spencer and Pruss 1992; Tropman 1996). Given the
importance of process criteria (e.g., workload sharing,
cooperation, level of effort) to group/team effectiveness
(e.g., Campion et al. 1996;Hackman1987), we might
expect that perceptions of this involvement will be the
proximal predictor of effectiveness (e.g., Nixon and Little-
page 1992). In other words, we might expect that attendee
involvement will act as a mediator, accounting for the
relationships of the design characteristics with perceived
effectiveness. We therefore test the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2 Attendee involvement will mediate the
relationship between the design characteristics and per-
ceived meeting effectiveness.
Method
Sampling Strategy
We wanted to attract participants from more than one country
and type of organization in order to enhance the generaliz-
ability of responses obtained. To achieve thisaim, respondents
for an internet-based survey were contacted through: personal
referrals, university alumni lists, online interest groups,
commercially purchased double-opt-in email services, banner
advertisements, university web sites,letters in newspapers and
professional magazines, and a flyer in an organization.
Participants
Respondents from the most represented countries were
selected for the present study: USA, UK, and Australia.
This resulted in a usable sample of 958, with a mean age of
39 (SD =11.00), of which 62% were female. On average,
participants worked 38.47 h per week (SD =13.47), and
had been employed in their organization for 6.87 years
(SD =7.36); 53% had supervisory responsibilities. A
number of organizational types were represented: private
for profit 28%, private not for profit 14%, quoted private
24%, and public (e.g., city government) 29%. ‘‘Other’’ or
unspecified organizational types comprised 5% of the
sample. In terms of source country, 67, 26, and 7% were
from USA, UK, and Australia, respectively.
Questionnaire Measures
Throughout the survey in Study 1, respondents were
reminded to focus on prescheduled meetings attended
during a typical week.
Perceived meeting effectiveness. Participants were
asked to rate the effectiveness of their typical meetings in
terms of goal achievement: ‘‘achieving your own work
goals’’ ‘‘achieving your colleagues’ goals’’ and ‘‘achiev-
ing your department’s/section’s/unit’s goals.’’ Ratings
were recorded on a five-point continuum from ‘‘Extre-
mely ineffective’’ to ‘‘Extremely effective.’’ The internal
consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) of this scale
was .90.
Agenda. Two distinct forms of agenda were examined.
One item assessed the extent of use of a written agenda
before meetings (‘‘A written agenda is provided before the
meetings’’) and the other focused on the use of a verbal
agenda at meetings (‘‘A verbal agenda is provided at the
meetings’’). Responses to both items were recorded on a
five-point response continuum from ‘‘Never’’ to ‘‘Always.’
In view of their conceptual and practical distinctiveness,
these items were independently analyzed rather than in a
scale.
Minutes. The recording of minutes was examined
through ‘‘Minutes are taken,’ with response options on a
five-point continuum from ‘‘Never’’ to ‘‘Always’’.
Punctuality. Two items were used to examine time
keeping: ‘‘Meetings start on time’’ and ‘‘Meetings end
when you expect them to end.’’ Responses to both items
were made on a five-point continuum from ‘‘Never’’ to
‘Always.’’ These items were analyzed independently to
determine potential separate effects of the two different
aspects of punctuality.
Facilities. To examine quality of meeting facilities, the
item was ‘‘Meeting facilities (e.g., rooms, equipment) are
good.’’ A five-point response continuum was used from
‘Never’’ to ‘‘Always.’
Chairperson. A single item examined the use of a
chairperson in a respondent’s typical meetings: ‘‘There is a
chairperson/leader at the meetings.’’ Five response options
were offered, from ‘‘Never’’ to ‘‘Always’’.
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76 67
123
Attendee involvement. Two items were used to assess
the extent of personal involvement in meetings: ‘‘Partici-
pation is widespread among meeting attendees’’ and
‘Participants work hard.’’ Five response options from ‘‘Not
at all’’ to ‘‘To a great extent’’ were provided. The internal
consistency reliability of this measure was .72.
Results
Table 1shows the descriptive statistics for each of the
study variables and their zero-order intercorrelations. The
mean of 3.63 for meeting effectiveness indicates that on
average participants perceived their meetings to be mod-
erately effective. Given the general negative representation
of meetings in the literature, this average value is higher
than might have been expected. Correlations between the
design characteristics (variables 2–8 in the table) are of a
small to moderate size. Stronger associations between the
design characteristics concern minutes and use of a written
agenda, facilities with starting and ending the meeting on
time, and presence of a chairperson and use of a written
agenda.
With regard to background variables (10–15), the rela-
tionships of gender and country with perceptions of
effectiveness are non-significant. However, more senior
employees tended to report higher levels of meeting
effectiveness than junior ones, part-time employees
reported slightly higher levels of effectiveness than full-
time employees, and effectiveness was somewhat more
associated with smaller organizations than larger ones.
Given that each background variable is significantly related
to some of the meeting features, they were all controlled in
subsequent analysis.
Hypothesis 1
The first hypothesis states that each design characteristic
will have a significant positive relationship with perceived
meeting effectiveness. In order to test this prediction, the
design characteristics were examined in seven separate
analyses, in each case controlling for the background
variables. Each design characteristic was found to have a
significant positive relationship with perceived meeting
effectiveness: written agenda (b=.20, p\.01); verbal
agenda (b=.17, p\.01); minutes (b=.10, p\.01);
start on time (b=.27, p\.01); end on time (b=.31,
p\.01); facilities (b=.33, p\.01); and chairperson
(b=.08, p\.05). Next, the design characteristics were
analyzed simultaneously to examine the extent to which
each contributes in itself (i.e., controlling for the other
characteristics) to effectiveness. All except minutes and
chairperson maintain their significant relationship (see
column 3 of Table 2, unique effects). Collectively, the
design characteristics account for an additional 20% of the
variance in Study 1 meeting effectiveness scores (DR
2
=
.20, p\.01) after controlling for the background variables.
Overall, the findings offer good support for the hypothesis,
in that each design characteristic is a significant individual
predictor of effectiveness, with agenda use, punctuality,
and facilities being of particular importance.
Hypothesis 2
The second hypothesis is that attendee involvement will
mediate the relationship between the design characteristics
and perceived effectiveness. To test this prediction, we
followed Baron and Kenny’s (1986) guidelines for assessing
mediation effects, along with use of the Sobel test (Sobel
1988) to examine the magnitude of the indirect effect. The
procedure was conducted using the unique predictors of
effectiveness (see column 4, Table 2). As reported in the
fourth column of Table 2, all characteristics except start on
time maintain their significant relationship with effective-
ness after controlling for attendee involvement. The Sobel
test indicated that involvement had a significant mediation
effect (p\.05), accounting for 18% (written agenda), 24%
(verbal agenda), 35% (start on time), 15% (end on time), and
34% (facilities) of the relationships. These effects offer
support for hypothesis 2. The overall regression equation
explains 32% of the variance in meeting effectiveness
(R
2
=.32, adjusted R
2
=.31, p\.01).
Study 2
Study 2 concerns the effectiveness of the last meeting
attended on a particular day. This approach has an
advantage over Study 1, in that responses are less suscep-
tible to measurement limitations associated with recall
biases and that it is possible to undertake a more refined
examination of particular design characteristics.
Two prominent predictors of effectiveness—ones that
are frequently reported in the trade literature—concern
agenda use and chairperson role. Those receive more
detailed attention in Study 2. With a focus on the last
meeting attended, we examine three forms of agenda,
namely written agenda before meetings, written agenda at
meetings, and verbal agenda at meetings, along with the
extent to which the agenda is worked through or com-
pleted. We expect that a written agenda disseminated
before meetings (allowing adequate preparation) and the
extent to which the agenda is completed (indicating good
time management/use of time) will be particularly impor-
tant predictors of perceptions of effectiveness.
In terms of the chairperson, we examine whether a
chairperson was present at the meeting and also whether
68 J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
123
Table 1 Means, standard deviation, and correlations between Study 1 variables (typical meetings)
Variable MSD1234567891011121314
1. Perceived effectiveness 3.63 .88
2. Agenda: written in advance 2.76 1.13 .18**
3. Agenda: verbal at meeting 3.03 1.14 .16** -.05 –
4. Minutes 2.91 1.29 .08* .48** .00
5. Start on time 3.50 .93 .28** .17** .06 .11**
6. End on time 3.19 .90 .32** .13** .08 .08* .48**
7. Facilities 3.84 .86 .32** .07* .08* .07* .30** .31** –
8. Chairperson 4.16 .97 .06 .22** .06 .20** .15** .09** .12**
9. Involvement 3.59 .87 .47** .11** .13** .04 .23** .21** .28** .04
10. Job level 3.12 .93 .11** .09** -.04 .10** .06 .00 -.02 -.05 .11*
11. Gender
a
– – .02 -.09** .02 -.11** -.05 -.03 .00 -.04 .07* -.11** –
12. F/P time
b
.10** -.03 .03 -.08* .02 .09** -.02 -.00 .10** -.03 .15** –
13. Organizational size
c
––-.08* .13** .05 .17** -.07* -.01 -.02 .06 -.11** –.24** -.08* -.16** –
14. Country
d
– – .04 -.13** .09** -.24** .04 .09** .14** .08* .11** -.01 .20** .07* -.11** –
15. Country
e
––-.05 .13** -.09** .23** -.04 -.09** -.14 -.05 -.08* .06 -.19** -.14** .14** -.85**
N=906–958
*p\.05
** p\.01
a
Dummy coded: male =1, female =2
b
Dummy coded: full-time =1, part-time =2
c
Log number of employees
d
Dummy coded: US =1, UK/Australia =0
e
Dummy coded: UK =1, US/Australia =0
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76 69
123
that person was the research participant or someone else.
We expect that higher levels of perceived effectiveness will
be found for those who report that they chaired the meeting
(e.g., Sisco 1993), consistent with the ‘‘better than average
effect’’—the tendency for people to evaluate their own
characteristics (e.g., abilities) more favorably than that of
an average peer (e.g., Svenson 1981; Taylor and Brown
1988). In order to examine consistency with Study 1, which
covered typical meetings, we also examine the relationship
of punctuality, minutes, and facilities with perceived
meeting effectiveness.
Hypothesis 1 The five design characteristics (including
the three types of the agenda and agenda completion, and
the three aspects of the chairperson) will each have a sig-
nificant positive relationship with perceived meeting
effectiveness.
As with Study 1, we also examine the contribution of
attendee involvement in accounting for the relationship of
the design characteristics with effectiveness.
Hypothesis 2 Attendee involvement will mediate the
relationship between the design characteristics and per-
ceived meeting effectiveness.
In Study 2, we attempt to further gauge generalizability
of findings by assessing effects across meeting types, size,
and duration. Are design-effectiveness relationships con-
sistent across meetings of different kinds? Several meeting
types are documented in the literature (e.g., Volkema and
Niederman 1995; Waddell and Rosko 1993). Here we
examine routine issues meetings, information-sharing
meetings, and special problems meetings as these were the
most common types that participants attended. Given the
lack of systematic research on meeting type to inform
prediction development, no hypotheses appear appropriate
and analysis at this stage is exploratory.
Finally, we examine whether the size and duration of a
meeting moderate the relationship between design char-
acteristics and perceived effectiveness. More specifically,
we assess the importance of design characteristics for
meetings of different sizes and durations. As with the
examination of meeting type, the analysis is exploratory
rather than hypothesis testing.
Method
Sampling Strategy
Participants in an internet survey were recruited using the
same sampling strategy as in Study 1 to obtain a range of
meeting experiences. Respondents were contacted through
personal referrals, university alumni lists, online interest
groups, commercially purchased double-opt-in email ser-
vices, banner advertisements, university web sites, letters
in newspapers and professional magazines, and a flyer in an
organization.
Table 2 Hierarchical
regression analysis involving
predictors of meeting
effectiveness for meetings
attended in a typical week
(Study 1)
*p\.05
** p\.01
Predictors Control
effects
Unique
effects
Involvement
effects
1. Background factors
Job level .11** .10** .07*
Gender -.01 .02 .00
F/P time .09* .08** .06*
Organizational size -.04 -.06 -.04
Country (Dummy code 1) .01 -.01 -.05
Country (Dummy code 2) -.04 .01 -.03
2. Design characteristics
Written agenda before meetings .17** .12**
Verbal agenda at meetings .14** .11**
Minutes -.04 -
Start on time .09* .06
End on time .18** .15**
Meeting facilities .22** .14**
Chairperson -.01 -
3. Involvement .34**
R
2
.03** .23** .32**
Adjusted R
2
.02 .22 .31
4R
2
.20** .10**
70 J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
123
Participants
Respondents from the most represented countries were
selected (i.e., USA, UK and Australia), producing a sample
of 523. To create consistency across respondents in data to
be analyzed, we only examined the three most common
meeting types, restricting attention to meetings that lasted
more than 15 minutes and less than 3 h, and to meetings
that had 25 or less attendees. The final sample was 292
participants, of which 69% were female, with an average
age of 38.12 (SD =10.55). On average, participants had
an organizational tenure of 6.14 years (SD =6.25), and
55% supervised others. They worked in a variety of orga-
nizations, including private for profit 37%, private not for
profit 15%, quoted private 24%, and public (e.g., national
government) 20%. Unspecified organizations (‘‘other’’)
accounted for 4% of the sample. For source country, the
sample included 80% USA, 12% UK, and 8% Australia.
Procedure
In order to participate in Study 2, individuals necessarily
had to attend at least one meeting during the work day in
which they completed the survey. Participants were asked
to complete the survey within an hour of the end of their
work day. If they attended meetings as part of their job but
not on that day, they were instead asked to complete the
survey described in Study 1.
Questionnaire Measures
Focusing on the last meeting attended, survey questions
asked about design characteristics, attendee involvement,
and effectiveness, as well as demographic factors. Partici-
pants also indicated the number of attendees at that meeting.
As in Study 1, individuals reported on prescheduled work-
related meetings, defined in the same way. However, in this
case the frame of reference was the day they had just
completed rather than a typical week. Measures of meeting
effectiveness (a=.93) and attendee involvement (a=.69)
were the same as used in Study 1. Modified and new mea-
sures included in Study 2 are as follows:
Agenda. Respondents were asked ‘‘What agenda was
made available, if any?’’ with the following options:
‘Written agenda before the meeting’’ (N=53), ‘‘Written
agenda at the meeting’’ (N=24), ‘‘Verbal agenda at the
meeting’’ (N=76), and ‘‘No written, verbal or routine
agenda’ (N =61). For analytic purposes, responses were
dummy coded with each of the three agenda types coded 1
compared to no agenda (coded 0).
Agenda completion. This aspect of the meeting was
addressed through: ‘‘To what extent did the meeting work
through the agenda?’ Responses were recorded on five
points running from ‘‘Not at all’’ to ‘‘Completely’’. A ‘‘Not
applicable’’ response option was also listed.
Minutes. The creation of minutes was indicated by
‘Were minutes taken?’’ with a ‘‘yes/no’’ (coded 1/0)
response option.
Punctuality. Two items were used to examine time-
keeping: ‘‘Did the meeting start on time’’ and ‘‘Did the
meeting end when you expected it to end.’’ Both items used
a ‘‘yes/no’’ (coded 1/0) response, and responses were
analyzed separately.
Facilities. Participants were asked to rate the quality of
the meeting facilities (e.g., rooms, equipment) on a five-
point continuum from ‘‘Very poor’’ to ‘‘Excellent.’
Chairperson/leader. The question ‘‘Did this meeting
have a chairperson/leader?’’ was followed by response
options ‘‘No’’, ‘‘Yes—me’’, and ‘‘Yes—someone else.’
Initial analysis found no difference in perceptions of
effectiveness between ‘‘yes—someone else’’ and ‘‘no
chairperson.’ However, a significant difference was found
between ‘‘yes—me’’ (with higher perceived effectiveness)
and ‘‘yes—someone else’’/‘‘no chairperson.’ The item was
therefore dummy coded with ‘‘yes—me’’ (N=44) coded 1
and ‘‘yes—someone else’’ and ‘‘no chairperson’
(N=245) coded 0.
Types of meeting. Five meeting types were described:
(1) information-sharing meetings (i.e., meetings primarily
about announcing and discussing organizational, depart-
ment, unit, team and/or personnel news); (2) training
meetings (i.e., meetings primarily about receiving some
type of work training); (3) recognition meetings (i.e.,
meetings primarily about recognizing and celebrating rel-
evant events and/or accomplishments); (4) meetings about
routine issues (i.e., meetings primarily about day-to-day
monitoring or decision making that work on issues iden-
tified previously, for example assigning tasks, coordinating
activities, and/or making other decisions); and (5) meetings
about special problems (i.e., meetings primarily about new
or unusual issues, rather than day-to-day problems). Three
types were selected for analysis here as the other types
lacked sufficient data: information sharing (N=128),
routine issues (N=119), and special problems (N=73).
Number of attendees. For the last meeting the number of
attendees was requested. The response options were 2, 3, 4,
5, 26 ?attendees.
Meeting duration. Respondents were asked to indicate
how long the final meeting of the day lasted. Response
options were \15, 15, 30, 45 min, 1 h, 1.15, 5?h.
Results
Table 3shows Study 2 descriptive statistics and correla-
tions between the variables for the last meeting attended on
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76 71
123
a particular day. The mean for perceived effectiveness is
3.67, indicating that participants viewed their last meeting
as being moderately effective. As with Study 1, this finding
contrasts with common assumptions that meetings tend to
be viewed as a poor use of time.
Correlations between the design characteristics are lar-
gely positive of weak to moderate size. The strongest
correlations concern those between agenda use (written in
advance and written at meeting) and agenda completion,
and between those of minutes and agenda use. With regard
to meeting size, larger meetings are positively associated
with agenda use and the recording of minutes, but nega-
tively associated with start on time and attendee
involvement. Longer meetings are positively associated
with use of a written agenda before the meeting, use of
minutes, and attendee involvement, but negatively with
start and end on time. Neither meeting size nor duration is
significantly associated with perceived effectiveness.
None of the background variables (16–21 in the table)
are significantly associated with effectiveness. However,
job level, gender, organizational size, and country of origin
are significantly related to some of the meeting features.
For instance, higher levels of attendee involvement are
reported by more senior employees, agenda use (written in
advance and at meetings) is more frequently reported in
larger organizations, and US participants rated meeting
facilities more favorably than participants from the UK and
Australia. Background variables that were significantly
associated with meeting features were controlled in sub-
sequent analysis.
Test of Hypothesis 1
The first hypothesis states that the design characteristics
will each have a significant positive relationship with
meeting effectiveness. As in Study 1, the characteristics
were first analyzed in turn. After controlling for the
background variables, the following characteristics were
found on their own to predict significantly and positively
perceived effectiveness: written agenda before the meeting
(b=.28, p\.01), verbal agenda at the meeting (b=.18,
p\.05), agenda completion (b=.31, p\.01), facilities
(b=.30, p\.01), and chairperson ‘‘me’’ (b=.24,
p\.01). The recoding of minutes and ending on time were
found to approach significance (b=.10, p\.07 and
b=.11, p\.08, respectively).
These characteristics were then analyzed simultaneously
(see column 3 of Table 4, unique effects), excluding
written and verbal agenda due to sample size attrition.
Agenda completion, facilities, and chairperson were found
to maintain their significant relationship with perceived
effectiveness. After taking into account the background
variables, the design characteristics explain 15% of the
Table 3 Means, standard deviation, and correlations between Study 2 variables (last meeting)
Variable MSD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 121314151617181920
1. Perceived
effectiveness
3.67 1.05
2. Agenda: written
in advance
– .22*
3. Agenda: Written
at meeting
– .14
4. Agenda: verbal
at meeting
– .19*
5. Agda completn
a
4.04 .98 .30** .35** .42* .24*
6. Minutes .12* .63** .33** .18* .13*
7. Start on time .07 -.08 .05 .02 .08 -.05 –
8. End on time .12* -.02 -.05 .01 .33** -.03 .29** –
9. Facilities 3.70 .98 .32** .20* .15 .23* .17** .13* .06 .01
10. Chair person ‘‘Me’
b
.24** .24* -.14 .20* .09 .06 .06 .03 .13
11. Involvement 3.82 .98 .41** .17 -.04 .22* .30** .16** .13* .11 .38** .25**
12. Meeting type
c
.03 .03 .05 .06 .00 -.04 -.06 -.00 .01 -.10 .01 –
72 J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
123
Table 3 continued
Variable MSD12 3 45678 91011121314151617181920
13. Meeting
type
d
.00 -.03 -.05 -.02 -.07 .05 .06 -.13* .08 .09 -.01 -.46** –
14. Meeting
size
––-.08 .55** .50** .21* .08 .14* -.15* -.01 .02 -.14* -.15* .05 -.10 –
15. Meeting
duratn
e
––-.04 .24** .21 .02 -.05 .19* -.12* -.34** .12 .02 .21** -.02 .10 .12*
16. Job level 3.34 .89 .07 -.01 -.08 .03 .03 .05 .14* -.01 .09 .25** .15** -.12* .10 -.15** -.00 –
17. Gender
f
––-.02 -.07 -.22* -.11 .11 .06 .01 .08 .01 -.12 -.03 -.10 -.12 .03 .00 -.07 –
18. F/P time
g
––-.04 -.06 -.18 .10 -.01 .02 .09 .08 -.05 .04 -.03 -.04 -.15* -.13* -.07 -.07 .15* –
19. Org. size
h
––-.07 .21* .22* .08 .05 -.00 -.09 -.01 .04 -.04 -.08 -.00 .09 .30** -.04 -.36** -.11 -.29** –
20. Country
i
.02 -.15 -.07 -.16 .17* .04 .04 .05 .13* -.02 .05 .05 -.04 .12* -.06 .04 .04 .03 -.05 –
21. County
j
.04 .05 -.02 .07 -.13 -.09 -.09 -.02 -.10 .06 .02 -.05 .04 -.09 .05 -01 -.13* -.14* .11 -.72**
N=83–292
*p\.05
** p\.01
a
Agenda completion
b
Chairperson ‘‘Me’
c
Dummy coded: routine issues =1, special problems/information sharing =0
d
Dummy coded: special problems =1, routine issues/information sharing =0
e
Meeting duration
f
Dummy coded: male =1, female =2
g
Dummy coded: full-time =1, part-time =2
h
Log organizational size (number of employees)
i
Dummy coded: US =1, UK/Australia =0
j
Dummy coded: UK =1, US/Australia =0
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76 73
123
variance in perceived effectiveness (DR
2
=.15, p\.01).
As in Study 1, the findings offer good support for
hypothesis 1 in that most of the design characteristics
individually predict perceived effectiveness, with agenda,
facilities, and chairperson ‘‘me’’ of specific importance in
the overall analysis.
Test of Hypothesis 2
This hypothesis assumes that attendee involvement will
mediate the relationship between the design characteristics
and effectiveness. To examine this possibility, the same
procedure as in Study 1 was used. Findings are presented in
Table 4under involvement effects (column 4). Agenda
completion, facilities and chairperson maintain their sig-
nificant relationship with perceived effectiveness over and
above the contribution of attendee involvement. To
examine the significance of the mediation effect, the Sobel
test was applied. In separate analyses for each of the design
characteristics, involvement was found to mediate signifi-
cantly (p\.05) the associations of agenda completion and
facilities with perceived effectiveness, accounting for 26%
(agenda completion) and 22% (facilities) of the relation-
ships. Attendee involvement was found not to mediate the
relationship between chairperson and perceived effective-
ness. Hypothesis 2 is therefore partially supported. Overall,
the regression model explains a large proportion of the
variance in perceived meeting effectiveness (R
2
=.22,
adjusted R
2
=.18, p\.01).
Meeting type. First, we compared levels of perceived
effectiveness across meeting types. After controlling for
job level, gender, organizational size and country of origin,
no significant differences were found across the three
types. We then considered whether the relationship of the
design characteristics with perceived effectiveness varies
across meeting types. No significant interaction effects
were found for any design characteristic. For instance,
working through the agenda is important to effectiveness
regardless of the type of meeting. Similarly, type of
meeting had no bearing on the relationship between
attendee involvement and perceived effectiveness.
Meeting size. We first examined the relationship
between meeting size and perceptions of effectiveness. The
findings revealed that this relationship was non-significant
(b=-.06, ns). We also found no evidence of curvilinear
relationships. As with meeting type, size of meeting was
found to have no significant effect on the relationship
between the design characteristics and effectiveness, con-
trolling for background variables. For instance, facilities
and attendee involvement emerged as important to per-
ceptions of effectiveness regardless of the size of the
meeting.
Meeting duration. How long meetings last was also
found to have a non-significant relationship with perceived
effectiveness (b=-.03, ns). No curvilinear relationships
were found. All interaction tests were non-significant
except for that of agenda completion with duration
(b=.16, p\.05). The form of the interaction shows high
levels of perceived effectiveness except for meetings of a
longer duration when the agenda is not fully completed.
General Discussion
Two complementary studies have examined the relative
importance of a number of widely proposed predictors of
meeting effectiveness. The studies, to our knowledge in
respect of the literature on meetings, are unique in terms of
scope, content, and approach.
Study 1 was designed to assess the impact of meeting
design characteristics using an employee’s meetings in a
typical week as the frame of reference. As expected, all of
the design characteristics were found individually to have a
significant positive relationship with perceived meeting
effectiveness, controlling for background variables. The
findings suggest, though, that agenda use, punctuality, and
meeting facilities warrant particular attention. As hypoth-
esized, attendee involvement was found to reduce
significantly the relationships of the design characteristics
with perceived effectiveness; and that variable appears to
play an important mediating role in those respects.
Table 4 Hierarchical regression analysis involving predictors of
meeting effectiveness for final meetings attended on a particular day
(Study 2)
Predictors Control
effects
Unique
effects
Involvement
effects
1. Background factors
Job level .06 -.04 -.06
Gender .05 .00 .01
Organizational size -.07 -.09 -.06
Country (Dummy code 1) .06 -.01 -.03
Country (Dummy code 2) .09 .08 .06
2. Design characteristics
Agenda completion .20** .18*
Minutes .03 -
End on time .08 -
Meeting facilities .22** .17*
Chairperson ‘‘me’’ .18* .15*
3. Involvement .25**
R
2
.02 .17** .22**
Adjusted R
2
-.01 .12 .18
4R
2
.15** .05**
*p\.05
** p\.01
74 J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76
123
Study 2 examined the perceived effectiveness of the last
meeting attended on a particular day. Several design
characteristics were found to be individually important in
that respect: written agenda before the meeting, verbal
agenda at the meeting, agenda completion, facilities, and
chairperson ‘‘me’’. Of these characteristics, the findings
suggest that agenda completion, facilities and chairperson
merit specific attention. Again, attendee involvement
served as a mediator of the relationships between the
design characteristics (agenda completion and facilities)
and meeting effectiveness.
An important contribution of Study 2 derives from the
comparison between three markedly different meetings:
routine issues, information sharing, and special problems.
It was found that average perceptions of effectiveness are
similar across those types. Similarly, no significant differ-
ences were found across meeting type in associations
between perceived effectiveness and design characteristics
or attendee involvement. In other words, these predictors of
effectiveness are important regardless of the type of
meeting.
An equivalent pattern of findings was found for meeting
size; that is, the findings indicate that meeting size does not
affect relationships of the design characteristics, or of
attendee involvement, with perceived effectiveness. Find-
ings for meeting duration are also non-significant except in
respect of agenda completion: longer meetings are per-
ceived as less effective than shorter ones when the agenda
is not completed.
A number of consistent themes emerged across the two
studies. First and foremost, we observed that meeting
design factors are generally important to consider when
examining perceived meeting effectiveness, accounting for
a substantial proportion of the variance in that important
dependent measure. One key design factor of relevance
across both studies was the use of an agenda. In particular,
through enabling individuals to prepare for meetings and
therefore perhaps to contribute more effectively in them, a
written agenda distributed before meetings can be of much
practical worth. As expected, it was found that a written
agenda in advance of meetings was significantly related to
perceived effectiveness. Furthermore, the findings of Study
2 suggest that when an agenda is used, it is important to
complete it. This might reflect, for instance, the return on
time invested to prepare adequately for meetings, which is
likely to be higher when the agenda is completed. Alter-
natively, agenda completion might indicate good meeting
management, being perceived as a good use of time.
Another robust finding across both studies was the
importance of appropriate meeting facilities. It is easier to
understand the importance of this factor in influencing
meeting effectiveness by considering when facilities are
‘bad’’ rather than ‘‘good’’. A meeting setting that, for
instance, lacks the appropriate table arrangement, is noisy,
is poorly lit, and is uncomfortable and can impede appro-
priate meeting processes and thus undermine effectiveness.
Attendee involvement emerged as particularly important
in both Studies 1 and 2, having a direct effect on percep-
tions of effectiveness, but also accounting for much of the
relationship between the design characteristics and effec-
tiveness. This pattern of findings is consistent with the
assumption that higher levels of the design characteristics,
particularly agenda use and completion, starting on time
and facilities, increases attendee involvement, which in
turn leads to greater perceptions of effectiveness.
A further point concerning attendee involvement is that
it is an important predictor of perceptions of effectiveness
regardless of meeting size: higher levels of involvement
predict greater perceptions of effectiveness. The zero-order
correlation between size and involvement, though, shows a
negative association: larger meetings are associated with
lower levels of involvement. Given the importance of
involvement to perceptions of effectiveness, this suggests
that meeting organizers need to consider how to promote
attendee involvement as meeting size increases.
Limitations and Future Work
Despite the strengths of these studies, notably the large
number of participants and the focus on different time
periods, the present research has some weaknesses. In
particular, although the pattern of results is consistent with
expectations, Studies 1 and 2 do not provide a strong basis
on which to establish causality. For instance, attendee
involvement might enhance perceptions of effectiveness
that, in turn, might produce a more positive appraisal of the
design characteristics. To overcome this limitation, change
studies are required. Measurements would need to be taken
before the introduction of change (e.g., a more compre-
hensive agenda, a better venue) and after subsequent
meetings over a period of, say, three months. Ideally,
findings would also need to be compared with those from
meetings without change. Nonetheless, cross-sectional
studies of the type reported here are important for the
establishment of between-variable relationships in devel-
oping a new topic of inquiry.
In order to improve further research in the area, it would
be worthwhile to collect independent records of meeting
content and effectiveness. These could include observer
assessments of meeting dynamics, agenda completion,
subsequent goals/targets achieved and whether there was
any formal evaluation of the meeting. Related to this, it
would be interesting to gather more information on the
actual meeting attendees, their relationships with one
another, and how critical each is to the completion of the
task (i.e., whether the right people attended the meeting).
J Bus Psychol (2009) 24:65–76 75
123
These factors may be important to consider when assessing
perceptions of meeting effectiveness. The use of such
independent observations could be used to validate per-
ceptual accounts and would reduce concerns about same-
source variance, a potential bias that can increase observed
associations between measures. However, the mainly weak
to moderate correlations between design factors reported in
Studies 1 and 2 suggest that this form of bias was not
particularly problematic (e.g., Spector 2006).
In order to obtain descriptions of meeting design char-
acteristics, single items were used. The information
observed about a particular issue can thus lack detail. It
would be worthwhile, for instance, to examine which
aspects of facilities are most important to perceptions of
effectiveness. The same issue applies to the end-on-time
aspect of meeting punctuality. If a meeting did not end on
time, it might have ended late or early, and for varying
reasons, with potentially different implications for per-
ceptions of effectiveness. To obtain richer accounts of the
way in which such design characteristics relate to per-
ceived effectiveness, multiple items are required.
Two additional sets of findings with respect to non-
central variables draw attention to interesting research
possibilities. More senior managers viewed their meetings
more favorably than others. This positive bias could create
blind spots in these leaders’ ability to identify problems
and make positive improvements. Future work to examine
differences between job levels would be very valuable.
Findings also suggested that the UK participants had
slightly lower perceptions of meeting effectiveness than
participants from other countries. While this study did not
draw representative and equivalent samples across coun-
tries, it does raise the possibility that significant cultural
differences might exist. Further work could sample more
strategically, perhaps examining countries along a contin-
uum of key cultural dimensions (e.g., individualism-
collectivism) to ascertain the importance of culture in
meeting processes and outcomes. Similar comparisons
would also be attractive with respect to culture at the
organizational level: in what ways are different compo-
nents of organizational culture reflected in differences in
meeting processes and outcomes?
In overview, the relative importance of design charac-
teristics in perceptions of meeting effectiveness has been
clarified, taking into account the role of attendee involve-
ment as well as meeting type, size, and duration. The
results from this study can be used by those who call
meetings to inform meeting construction, with potential
benefits for both attendees and organizations. Meeting
organizers should be particularly aware of the importance
of agenda use (particularly completion), punctuality, venue
quality, and the role of the chairperson in shaping attendee
perceptions of effectiveness. Given the large number of
meetings which employees attend, making even modest
improvements will likely pay substantial dividends.
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Managers spend a great deal of time in meetings and the results of those meetings (decisions, shared understandings, action plans) are critical to organizational success. Despite this investment, organizational meetings remain understudied in structure and function. The purpose of this study is to provide additional knowledge regarding how groups use information in the course of meetings employing differentforinats. Based on observations of meetings within 35 different organizations: (a)forum meetings represented the most common meeting format,followedby round-robin and announcements meetings, (b) the use offormal mechanisms for storing and distributing information (agendas, supporting documents) wasfound to vary by meeting format, and (c) the availability and use of meeting technologies was limited. Implications for systems development andfuture research are discussed.
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It has become widely accepted that correlations between variables measured with the same method, usually self-report surveys, are inflated due to the action of common method variance (CMV), despite a number of sources that suggest the problem is overstated. The author argues that the popular position suggesting CMV automatically affects variables measured with the same method is a distortion and oversimplification of the true state of affairs, reaching the status of urban legend. Empirical evidence is discussed casting doubt that the method itself produces systematic variance in observations that inflates correlations to any significant degree. It is suggested that the term common method variance be abandoned in favor of a focus on measurement bias that is the product of the interplay of constructs and methods by which they are assessed. A complex approach to dealing with potential biases involves their identification and control to rule them out as explanations for observed relationships using a variety of design strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved). I talk about how I came to write this paper here: https://managementink.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/truth-or-urban-legend/
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Workplace deviance is a prevalent phenomenon. Surprisingly, however, in light of how widespread deviance is, most prevention seems aimed at identifying and eliminating deviant employees. The paper takes a different approach; the focus is on the work environment. A worker's perceived lack of control over his/her work environment is proposed as a cause of workplace deviance. Restrictions of control are suggested to result in both attempts to regain control (corrective function) and in hostile aggression (retributive function). Employee empowerment is proposed as way of reducing employee deviance by enhancing employees' sense of control. Data from two studies are presented in support of these arguments. Participants in study 1 were 219 randomly selected individuals (average age 43.5) from the Toledo, Ohio area. All were currently employed full time in a variety of jobs. 240 employees in a regional distribution center for a national shipping company participated in study 2. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Discusses the use of meetings and the available studies of meetings that have been conducted by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, business administrators, and others. It is argued that researchers have made meetings a tool of analysis, when they should have been the topic of investigation. A framework for a theory of meetings is presented, which sees meetings as rituals, social metaphors, and homeostats as prerequisite to the study of meetings in organizations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Previous research has demonstrated that work team characteristics can be related to effectiveness (Campion, Medsker, & Higgs, 1993). This study provides a replication with professional knowledge worker jobs, different measures of effectiveness, and work units that varied in the degree to which members identified as a team. Data were collected from 357 employees, 93 managers, and archival records for 60 teams in a financial services organization. Team characteristics were measured with questionnaires completed by employees and managers. Effectiveness measures included immediate manager judgments at two points in time, senior and peer manager judgments, employee judgments, and archival records of employee satisfaction and performance appraisals. Results were similar to previous findings in that most team characteristics were related to most effectiveness criteria. Relationships were strongest for process characteristics, followed by job design, context, interdependence, and other characteristics. Further, work units higher on single-team identity were higher on many team characteristics and effectiveness measures.