The Structure of Problem Structuring Conversations: A Boundary Games Approach



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Springer Netherlands


One of the questions associated with facilitated problem structuring is how the micro level of actors’ multimodal communications, contributes to the emergence of a macro level, framing the possibilities for action in a workshop. This paper shows a way to study this macro level, building the visualization of the conversations’ structure starting from a boundary games theory micro analysis of the interactions. Our empirical evidence comes from following a group of academic consultants working to define a value proposition for their activity. We focus on analyzing two out of nine workshops that were felt diametrically opposite in terms of facilitation and achievements. Moving from the micro towards an upward level, three configurations building the structure are identified—shifting, branching and converging. The work carried out allows us to: (1) visualize the structure of conversations in a problem structuring context, (2) highlight the role of multimodal communications in building the conversations and (3) construct an interpretation bridging the micro and macro readings of a workshop. This knowledge is useful for facilitators guiding the dynamic of a workshop and for researchers looking forward to understanding how micro level interactions build higher levels of the social phenomenon of intervention. © 2018, Springer Nature B.V.


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