Interactional dynamics of team decision making A discourse analytic study of operational planning meetings in the petroleum industry
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Team decision making is becoming a crucial activity in the contemporary workplace and interprofessional interaction is often a prerequisite for reaching decisions. In this thesis I study how interactional dynamics play a role in team decision making. The thesis consists of four articles; one literature review and three empirical articles. The data is gathered in the context of operational planning in the petroleum industry. Decisions in this setting are characterized by high risk, technical and practical complexity, significant interdependencies, as well as uncertainty related to frequent changes in the operational situation. The primary data are video recordings of two chosen meeting sites for operational planning; a weekly plan optimization meeting with participants from six different departments and a daily morning meeting conducted via videoconference with seven locations. This data is supplemented with ethnographic data, interviews, and observations. The study takes a discourse analytic approach to the data, which involves seeing decision making as a communicative process in which the interaction between participants is essential. The first two empirical articles explore the interactional dynamics in the co-located, weekly meeting and shows how a dynamic participant structure opens up for participation across disciplines and organizational roles, and how the use of questions functions as a resource for driving the decision making process. The third empirical article studies turn-taking in the video-mediated meeting and shows how offshore participants contribute to decision making through self-initiated turns. By studying closely the communicative situations in which decisions are made, and the linguistic-discursive choices of the participants, the thesis as a whole contributes with insights into how the communicative genre creates conditions for participation and decision making.