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Managing Electronic Multitasking in Meetings: Perspectives of meeting leaders
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The growth of the internet combined with the proliferation of portable electronic devices has caused an increased use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the workplace. Also in meetings, which present an important tool to communicate and interact within the team, the use of portable electronic devices is common. Individuals frequently use their smartphones and laptops while attending a meeting for meeting-related or -unrelated activities. This behaviour is defined as electronic multitasking. Literature indicates that there are both positive and negative effects of electronic multitasking that might improve the process of a meeting or impair the interaction during a meeting. Since it is the meeting leader’s responsibility to conduct effective and efficient meetings she has to manage potential effects of electronic multitasking. Hence, the meeting leader should make use of positive effects and in this case encourage Electronic Multitasking. On the other hand, if electronic multitasking has negative effects on the meeting, the leader has to limit this behaviour. Considering the entrance of younger generations into the workforce who are more confident in ICT use and view their devices as an important part of their life, the rising relevance of discussing and investigating the management of electronic multitasking in more depth is evident. However, there are only limited empirically developed approaches available to manage the effects of electronic multitasking. By conducting a multiple case study, this major gap was addressed.The case study has been carried out in November 2015 in Umeå, Sweden. Through seven semi-structured interviews with experienced meeting leaders, rich qualitative data has been collected. To analyse this data, a tool called Thematic Network Analysis has been used. Our results encompass several management approaches for meeting leaders to both enhance and limit the effects of electronic multitasking. The identified approaches serve as a toolbox from which a leader has to choose the appropriate approach according to the context that is shaped by the participants, meeting situation and organisation. Leaders can set strict rules at the beginning of a meeting, for example by banning devices. To improve the enforcement of rules, they should be negotiated and respected by the leader as well. Electronic multitasking can be limited by actively confronting multitasking participants during or after the meeting with their inappropriate behaviour. The leader can also make jokes to catch participants’ attention or encourage interaction. Similarly to confronting people with inappropriate electronic multitasking, the leader can encourage the behaviour in case it is useful. For example, one person can be assigned to take notes from the meeting or phases in which all meeting participants engage in electronic multitasking can be announced. Furthermore, the meeting leader can set up meetings by using features such as agenda, breaks, goals, length, size and topics to influence the amount of electronic multitasking. Finally, the company culture or guidelines regarding the use of portable electronic devices can be shaped and applied by meeting leaders. Hence, practical implications have been made to a large extent. Furthermore, this study provides theoretical contributions in the areas of meeting leadership and electronic multitasking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
Meeting, Meeting Leadership, Electronic Multitasking, Management of Electronic Multitasking
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-116840OAI: diva2:903066
Available from: 2016-02-17 Created: 2016-02-12 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved

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