The shifting role of a document in managing conflict and shaping the outcome of a small group meeting

Joan Kelly Hall, Emily Rine Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Small group project work often requires students to meet outside of class. It is important that these meetings be efficacious, as the resulting projects typically figure into students' grades. The challenge is that, unlike in more formal meetings, there is typically no designated institutional authority to manage their work together. In peer meetings students have equal participatory rights; thus, formulating understandings and managing conflict can be especially delicate matters to accomplish. In this single case analysis of a small group project meeting, we examine the shifting role of a document in resolving conflict that threatens the group's work. The analysis shows how, over the course of the meeting, a personal document created during the meeting subsequently becomes oriented to by the participants as an official formulation of their decisions and an authoritative directive to complete their tasks. This shift in orientation to the document allows a way out of the conflict and the meeting to come to a successful conclusion. In addition to providing data on conflict resolution in meetings without an official leader, the finding on the changing role of a document adds to understandings of how actions are accomplished through the construction and manipulation of objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-638
Number of pages24
JournalText and Talk
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The shifting role of a document in managing conflict and shaping the outcome of a small group meeting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this