Jenny Helin (2011)

Living moments in family meetings: A process study in the family business context

This dissertation studies meetings from a process perspective. Such an approach, which can be labelled ‘process organisation studies’ is promising in that it directs attention to social processes continuously in the making. The thesis builds on the current development in process organisation studies in two ways. The first centres on an elaboration on key assumptions of approaching organisational life from a process perspective. I here bridge process organisation studies with Bakhtin’s work on dialogue into a dialogical becoming perspective.

This perspective calls for a distinct way of understanding processes of becoming which makes it possible to explore meeting practices as situated, emerging and relational world-making activities. The second is a comprehensive processual account based on a collaborative field study with two owner families. Organised meetings held in a family that owns a business (or several) has proved to be of importance for family business longevity in that the family members can help to develop strong family relations and a healthy business. In this setting, where people are dealing with that which is often most important to them in life, such as their identity, work, family relationships and future wealth, a process approach is useful since it helps to understand the emotionally loaded, complex and intertwined issues at stake.What emerges as central in understanding movement and flow is the need to understand the here and now moments in meetings. I refer to these moments as ‘living moments’ as a reminder of the once-occurring, unique and momentary transformation that can take place between people in such encounters. Thus, the living moment is the moment of movement.