Dialogic construction of understanding in cross-border corporate meetings

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2009-08-27
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Kansainvälinen yritysviestintä
International Business Communication
Degree programme
viii, 177 s.
Acta Universitatis oeconomicae Helsingiensis. A, 351
This dissertation focuses on understanding in internal meetings of two large Finnish- Swedish cross-border corporations. Drawing on dialogical conceptions of talk-ininteraction, the study addresses two broad research questions: 1) how do the participants of cross-border corporations co-construct shared understanding of the institutional context, and 2) how do the participants achieve shared understanding of each other’s talk. More specifically, it asks: 1) how do the participants construct their shared understanding of the overall structure of the meeting activity, 2) how is understanding constructed locally, as a sequential and responsive process by the participants of the meeting interactions, 3) what institutional orientations do the participants display while constructing shared understanding, and 4) how do the participants of the company internal meetings use some recurring interactional practices, collaborative completions and code-switching, as building blocks of both intersubjectivity and the institutional context. In order to answer the questions, micro-level analyses were carried out on videorecorded authentic meeting talk-in-interactions (9 h 15 min) using the methodological approach of conversation analysis (CA). The findings of the study extend and elaborate the existing knowledge of how workplace meeting interaction is socially organized by the participants themselves. The findings result in four main contributions. Firstly, they elaborate the concept of internal meetings as activity types by demonstrating that the construction of the overall meeting activity is oriented to, by the chair and the participants, as locally negotiable. Secondly, the findings contribute to the micro analytic studies on meeting interaction by displaying how shared understanding, in the sense of intersubjectivity, is locally constructed by the participants through various interactional practices. Thirdly, the findings contribute to the literature of institutional interaction by demonstrating how the institutional context is constructed through the micro level orientations. In particular, the study sheds light on the multifunctional uses of collaborative completions and code-switching in situ. Fourthly, the findings contribute to the literature on professional lingua franca interaction. They lend support to the previous results which demonstrate that the participants orient to aspects of meaning and shared understanding rather than language use. At the same time, they provide new information on the multifunctional use of some interactional practices in professional lingua franca interaction.
Supervising professor
Charles, Marjaliisa, professor