Workplace interaction

This project studies workplace interaction: How colleagues and leaders co-create teamwork, leadership, followership and international collaboration. The aim is to develop a renewed understanding of interactional dynamics in organisational life and to translate this understanding into practical findings that can be used in organisational life.

We have collected data in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas from 100+ private companies, public institutions and non-governmental organisations. We use video ethnography (video recordings of authentic workplace interaction) and anthropological methods (observations, document harvest and question-based methods).

Data include recordings of business meetings, workshops and informal gatherings in café areas, loggings of email correspondence, drawings and photos of office layouts and artefacts, and elicited data such as interviews, focus groups and surveys. We use ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, grounded theory, text linguistics, and a variety of analytic tools ranging from touchpoint analyses to community mapping and breaching experiments.

A special emphasis is on exploring the participants’ use of different semiotic resources (talk, gaze, gestures, objects, physical surroundings, technologies).

Sub projects


We study business meetings (especially team meetings, leadership meetings and department meetings). We explore the interactional co-creation of knowledge sharing,  strategizing, shared leadership, decision-making and conflict resolution as well as ongoing identity work such as the construction of leader and follower roles. We are as interested in the nitty gritty details of the design and sequential development of participant contributions as the larger strategic outcomes of furthering institutional goals and how these may be achieved more effectively and efficiently by developing new meeting formats, guidelines and tools.



The development of new ideas, new products, new processes, new routines, new ways of doing things is a core activity in many organisations. In this research project we investigate how this development is constituted and facilitated by the participants. Facilitation and orchestration of activities and participant contributions are central to a wide variety of professional tasks carried out through social interaction. In comparison to mundane everyday talk, professional interaction consists of specialised forms of talk and social actions related to the overall tasks of the particular type of professional institution and its goals. This project investigates and compares facilitation in recorded and transcribed multimodal interaction during a variety of genres ranging from business meetings and video conferences over coaching sessions and workshops to TV interviews and debates. The aim is twofold. Firstly, the study attempts to identify what minimally defines facilitation as a social activity by studying the details of its in situ production in a context of activities and participant contributions that are shaping and shaped by moral norms. Secondly, the analysis compares facilitation across settings to establish how different formats of talk shape the participants’ contributions and goal orientation.



We investigate how leaders, employees and vendors in global settings communicate and collaborate virtually via a range of information and communication technologies (ICT). Building on and collaborating with other research projects in our research centre, we explore how everyday conduct as well as office facilities and leadership policies may support this interaction. The goal of the project is to develop and deliver tangible and implementable suggestions for how to improve routines and policies.



There are many new ways of using boards and surfaces as media for communication and learning in educational settings and a range of professional settings. The goal of this research project is to contribute with new concrete knowledge and inspiration on an overlooked, yet very relevant area: the use of boards and surfaces as a medium for communication and learning in professional practice. The terms ‘boards ans surfaces' cover: canvas, flip charts, whiteboards, blackboards, emerging boards (for instance sticky notes), smart boards, tablets, bulletin boards, posters etc. The research questions are:

  • How do professionals use boards and surfaces as resources and affordances for communication and learning in professional practice? And what reasons do the professionals give for this use?
  • How can professionals' use of boards and surfaces create more effective and effective practice supporting learning and innovation in professional practice?

Data has been collected in six different settings:

  • Public schools
  • High schools
  • Vocational training
  • Universities
  • Business offices inside meeting rooms (in meetings and workshops)
  • Business offices outside meeting rooms (in factories and manufacturing companies)



Internal researchers

Name Title Phone E-mail
Ann Merrit Rikke Nielsen Postdoc +4535337181 E-mail
Brian Lystgaard Due Associate Professor - Promotion Programme +4535335929 E-mail
Mie Femø Nielsen Professor +4535328356 E-mail
Thomas Toft Postdoc +4535332613 E-mail

External researchers

Louise Tranekjær, RUC
Sabine Jørgensen, VIA
Magnus Larsson, CBS