AbstractGroup Support Systems (GSS) are systems, normally involving the use of Information Technology, that have been designed to support groups of people meeting to undertake some task. By providing an additional channel of communication, GSS attempt to reduce group process losses, such as domination of the group by one or more members, and to enhance positive aspects of the group process, for example a group member thinking of a new and useful idea as a result of awareness of the contribution of other group members.
A number of different types of GSS have been developed involving different levels of IT support. However, the majority of research has been targeted at GSS involving networked personal computers, where each member of the group uses an individual personal computer to enter opinions and values. Another type of GSS involves a single personal computer, a large screen that can be viewed by all members of a group, and a number of personal handsets that can be used to send numeric information to the personal computer.
Relative to networked personal computer based GSS, there has been far less research on the effectiveness of handset based GSS in supporting a group of people meeting on some task. Additionally, there is conflicting evidence between studies of GSS that have been undertaken in the laboratory, and studies that have been undertaken in the field. Laboratory studies have found little evidence to suggest that the group process is improved through the use of a GSS, whilst field studies have identified benefits. The evaluation of the validity of a GSS is a complex issue, and can be considered from a number of perspectives and approaches.
This portfolio of projects concerns the development and evaluation of a type of k-GSS in organisational settings. The portfolio includes an account of the background to the development of the GSS and an initial evaluation of the usefulness of the system through a number of field studies. Two field applications of the GSS are the subject of an in-depth evaluation, and include evaluation of both process variables and output variables. The evaluation of the GSS in these applications suggests that an important factor in improving the group process through using a GSS is the extent to which dialogue is encouraged in the group. Additionally, a GSS Design Framework and GSS Design Guidelines are identified which should be reviewed when an application using this type of technology in an organisational context is being considered.
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- Decision support systems
- Teams in the workplace
- Data processing
- Group decision making