Meeting Load Paradox: Balancing the Benefits and Burdens of Work Meetings

Document Type



workplace meetings; meeting load paradox

Identifier Data



Publication Source

Business Horizons

Rights Management



Work meetings are a significant part of individuals’ professional lives and have increasingly become a vehicle for organizations to get work accomplished. Recently virtual meetings have become a more prominent feature of employees’ work lives, and scholarly attention to the changing nature of work meeting dynamics has increased in parallel. Not surprisingly, these circumstances have increased the number of meetings individuals participate in each day and the number of mediums through which these meetings occur. In this paper, we introduce the meeting load paradox: increasing the number of meetings employees participate in provides an important avenue for them to contribute more to their organizations while at the same time, consuming more of their personal resources. In this way, an increased meeting load is only effective up to a certain threshold. To demonstrate this empirically, we conducted a field study with 199 full time employees, providing initial evidence of one manifestation of the meeting load paradox—meeting participation, engagement, and creative performance increase as meeting load increases curvilinearly, creating an inverted-U-shaped effect. Furthermore, we find that a virtual medium increases the curvilinear effect while employee conscientiousness flattens the curvilinear effect. We discuss the important implications of these findings and ways employees and managers can navigate the meeting load paradox to ensure they can thrive amid the proliferation of workplace meetings.