Chapter 5. Analyzing meetings in political and business contexts
This chapter compares various instances of everyday routine meetings in political institutions (such as the European Parliament and the European Commission) with meetings in business organizations, with the aim of, first describing similarities and differences in the genre (and subgenres) of meetings across organizations and social fields; and of secondly investigating the impact of organizational knowledge of the genre on presuppositions and context models of the participants related to the interaction and intended outcome of the meetings. I argue that the concept of a “prototype genre of meeting” is adequate for an integrated, interdisciplinary discourse-analytical and sociolinguistic theoretical framework which allows understanding and explaining the intricate dynamic of meetings in a systematic, in-depth, and context-dependent way. Moreover, I claim that organizational knowledge of the genre is part and parcel of successful interaction strategies; and that much miscommunication and problems could be avoided if manifest and latent genre conventions were sufficiently acknowledged. Drawing on transcribed data of 36 meetings in the European Parliament and European Commission, on the one hand, and of 6 meetings (2 away days, 4 regular) in one large business organization, on the other hand, I illustrate the salience of the genre characteristics in the interaction and its intended, expected, and actual outcome.