Title page for ETD etd-4698-01644

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cano, Arnoldo Rafael
Author's Email Address acano@vt.edu
URN etd-4698-01644
Title Effects of Technological Support on Decision Making performance of Distributed Groups
Degree Master of Science
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kleiner, Brian M. Committee Chair
Barfield, Woodrow S. Committee Member
Williges, Robert C. Committee Member
  • macroergonomics
  • distributed groups
  • desktop videoconferencing
  • group communication support systems
  • group decision support systems
Date of Defense 1997-12-12
Availability unrestricted
This research was concerned with the collection of empirical data necessary to estimate the effects of

decision support tools on the performance of distributed groups. Data was collected in a controlled

experimental environment that simulated a geographically-dispersed meeting through the use of

videoconferencing and group communication support (GCSS) technology. Results of the use of a Group

Decision Support System (GDSS) on group process and outcome variables were mixed. As predicted by

the literature the use of a GDSS by distributed groups improved overall group consensus, decision

accuracy, and decision effectiveness. The use of a GDSS also increased perceived process structure.

Contrary to previous studies, the use of a GDSS increased decision time, and decreased overall

satisfaction with the group process. No significant effects were found for perceived consensus,

cooperation, amount of information exchange, or confidence in the decision.

A strong correlation was found between decision quality and decision time. An even stronger correlation

was found between perceived structure of the process and satisfaction with the process. The lack of

feedback about the process and its outcomes could explain the lack of a GDSS effect on perceptions of

consensus, cooperation, and confidence in the decision. Perception of subjective measures of the process

may depend on the presence of the appropriate types of feedback. The results suggest that an increase in

structure without a perceived improvement in decision quality (confidence in the decision) tends to

reduce group satisfaction.

A richer taxonomy for Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems is proposed whereby

three orthogonal dimensions of group support are defined. These three dimensions of group support are:

Communication support, decision support, and presence support. This new taxonomy suggests a number of

research directions aimed at the empirical identification of contextual and design factors relevant to

distributed group performance and decision making performance in general.

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