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Title: Open office interaction : initiating talk at work
Author: Salvadori, Francesca Astrid
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 5172
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This PhD project explores patterns of interaction and communication in open offices. The study considers how talk is ordered and organised between staff members, both back stage and also when clients are present. It involves the collection of audio and video recordings of employees in the context of their daily routine work. These recordings facilitate the consideration of a range of interactional resources used by colleagues, including talk, gesture, bodily orientation and also the use of office technologies, such as computer keyboards and telephones. The aim of the project is to refine our understanding of how colleagues in open offices move from seemingly individual tasks to more explicit collaborative activities. Throughout the empirical chapters, particular attention is paid to those moments when new episodes of talk emerge. This focus is important as it goes to the heart of contemporary debates about the nature of open offices: the tension between claims about the enhanced opportunities for knowledge sharing and counter claims about the increased problems of interruption and distraction. While there are many articles on the advantages and disadvantages of the open office, there are remarkably few that explore the organisation of talk amongst people in open office environments. The study’s methodological approach is informed by ethnomethodology (EM) and conversation analysis (CA) and the project has been built around the collection and analysis of video data. Audiovisual recordings are reviewed and transcribed using standard CA orthographies to aid the analysis and explore in depth the sequential organisation of talk and non-vocal conduct. The study’s research approach also draws on ethnographic field observations, discussions with participants and openended interviews. The combination of these materials allows the researcher to unpack the social practices that underpin work and collaboration. The study contributes to contemporary debates in conversation analysis, workplace studies and organisation studies more generally, unpacking the organisation of initiation sequences in institutional settings. The main findings of this research study focus on: (i) the ways in which objects and technologies provide resources for initiating interaction; (ii) the distinctive characteristics of initiations in multi-party interaction; (iii) and the ways in which shared knowledge in the office is used in initiating interactions. These findings contribute to key debates in organisation studies concerning the advantages and disadvantages of open offices — by revealing the practical solutions that participants deploy in managing the tension between interruptions and knowledge sharing.
Supervisor: Hindmarsh, Jonathan Andrew ; Heath, Christian Consitt Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available