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An investigation into the performance of different group communication modes : using soft systems methodology to investigate factors

Shaw, Gregory John, Information Technology & Electrical Engineering, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW

2007

  • Title:
    An investigation into the performance of different group communication modes : using soft systems methodology to investigate factors
  • Author/Creator: Shaw, Gregory John, Information Technology & Electrical Engineering, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW
  • Subjects: Group Support Systems; Task-technology fit; soft systems methodology; systems thinking
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2007
  • Description: This thesis has two distinct research threads. One thread examines the effectiveness of technology support on the performance of focus groups. Unlike previous research, the work described in this thesis addresses the fundamental issue that groups are social systems, and that comprehensive measurement of the effectiveness of group activities requires assessment of both the task-oriented and social aspects of the group activity. In this research, four different communication modes are used to compare group effectiveness. The second research thread in this thesis is the use of Systems Thinking, and specifically Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), as the framework for inquiring into the effects of technology support on group effectiveness. The strategy in this thesis for developing and evaluating hypotheses extends the general descriptions and guidance in the literature on using SSM for hypothesis testing. Systems thinking also provides the basis for examining the prevailing ‘profile deviation’ view that the better the fit between the group task and the technology support the greater the group performance. Using the six perspectives of fit developed by Venkatraman (1989), the most common GSS models and other models developed to examine Task-Technology Fit (TTF) are analysed. The results show that group performance models are most often tested from a ‘profile deviation’ perspective and TTF models developed from a profile deviation perspective claim to have predictive and descriptive validity for assessing the level of group performance. To assess whether an SSM based approach can improve the predictive and/or descriptive analysis of the impact of technology support on group work, a field experiment was conducted at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Twenty focus groups of officer cadets assessed their military training program using a GSS in one of four communication modes. The results showed little predictive or descriptive support for the profile deviation perspective of TTF when measuring the group's overall effectiveness, task effectiveness, participant satisfaction or group relations. The alternative ‘gestalt’ perspective, operationalised in this research by using SSM, provided a more comprehensive approach to examining the effectiveness of technology support for group work.
  • Language: English
  • Rights: http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/copyright; http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/copyright

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