Efficient organizations are vigilant in finding ways to improve their efficiency as a group. For example, too frequent meetings are considered a major source of conflict and discontent among employees (Crowe, Cresswell, Robertson, Huby, Avery, & Sheikh, 2011). Hosley (2010) discovered that the productivity of a firm largely depends on the degree of responsiveness within the company structure. The entire leadership structure is responsible for making decisions in the firm. The different decision-making stakeholders want to ensure a higher degree of accuracy on the solutions provided, which is possible through enhancing cohesiveness within the organization (Cahalane et al., 2010).
Recent developments in addressing team ineffectiveness involve the use of technology to meet the growing needs and responsibilities of organizational members. One revolutionary strategy that many organizations have adopted is the Group Support System (GSS).
Group Support System (GSS) is a set of approaches, technology and software whose primary function lies in utilizing techniques that focus on improving communication and decision making (Crowe et al.). In this respect, introducing GSS settings can contribute significantly to value management and develop a new powerful network within which shape ethical and moral codes (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). Because little connection has been revealed between GSS approaches and organizational efficiency in terms of value creations, specific emphasis should be placed on examining the related researches supporting this assumption.
The development of computer-based group support can provide new opportunities for organizational development and team building (Hayward, 2012). It is important to deliberate on the strategic issues that will prevail in terms of the needs of the organizational development. Such a perspective allows managers to identify the pertinent information that is important for choosing the appropriate systems for sustainable development of an organization. In addition, such knowledge creates further assistance in improving a GSSs Group Support System to ensure efficient measures (Niederman et al., 2008). Using a consistent organizational network within an organization improves the overall structure of an organization and establishes fixed norms, values, and standards of behavior.
Background of the Study
Group Support Systems create benefits for a number of organizations because they introduce significant improvements at different levels of management ( Chandra et al., 2010). In a globalized setting, new decision-making models have been invented to adjust to a virtual environment (Turban et al., 2011). While evaluating the efficiency of group meetings beyond the virtual environment, inattentiveness, lack of focus, and unawareness of the topic of discussion can lead to inadequate decisions. This lack of attention to details is of particular concern to the action planning approaches (Bakker et al., 2011).
Most organizations spend considerable amounts of time on meetings rather than the actual tasks and goals needed to be achieved (Crowe et al., 2011). Inefficient distribution of time and resources lead to decrease in organizational effectiveness. Hence, meetings should be kept short so that workers can concentrate more on action instead of discussion (Bessiere et al., 2009).
The integration of technology supported systems into a collaboration model of an organization can facilitate the prediction of performance and productivity outcomes (Eschenbrenner, et al. (2008). In fact, the collaborative use of technology closely relates to the theory of acceptance and closure theory, which identifies the degree of the interaction between social environment and technology (Brown et al., 2010). In addition, the development of technologically advanced settings can allow organizations to sustain a competitive advantage of over other organizations which are less concerned with innovation and change (Owens et al., 2011). However, despite the fact that introducing powerful computer-based approach to group work is beneficial, little research has been conducted on the role of GSSs in value creation and development of new standards, norms, and ethics contributing to the efficiency of an organization. This is of particular concern to such aspects as leadership, team building, employee engagement, and organizational learning (Huang et al., 2010).
Traditional conduct of meeting, conferences, and projects has been premised on face-to-face communication and constant interaction between group members. Indeed, the presence of all the participants facilitates the generation of ideas and develops a powerful framework for further discussion (Andres, 2002). Introduction of technology, therefore, widens the opportunities for alternative measures in exchanging ideas in case face-to-face meetings are impossible (Richey et al., 2012). Constant communication and possibility of instant messaging is a step forward to an advanced and efficient development of ideas and decisions.
The problem to be addressed by the study is that most of the meetings held by boards of directors are not efficient in terms of time and task orientation. Within the context of human resource management, the meetings tend to take place more regularly, consuming time and money (Richey et al., 2012). Ineffective teamwork and communication in such cases further waste company time and effort. In this respect, Niederman et al (2008) state that the information technology domain of such organizations, specifically GSS, may not be maximized in creating a useful, predictable or even reputable improvement of meeting the outcomes of the organization. Hence, this study explores the wide possibilities of GSS in terms of optimizing efficiency in organizational meetings as well as the constraints in its implementation. It will also investigate GSS’s advantages and disadvantages at various directorates level of the DHHQ’s in Falls Church, Virginia.
The significance of the study addresses the re-evaluation of approaches to holding a meeting, including devices and media platforms for information transmission, the structure of group projects, and sequence of settled tasks. Normally, GSS develops improved cohesiveness within the organizational group. It also helps to create ideas and agendas that are consistent with normal organizational traditions through the decision-making process. On the other hand, the accessibility of GSS may minimize employees’ engagement and willingness to participate in online meetings because virtual collaboration can lead to decreased awareness of the importance of the event (Bose, 2003). The success of virtual collaboration depends on the employees’ position. It is purposeful to define the major challenges of technology integration, as well as outline how leadership, employees’ engagement, team building, and organization learning can be redeveloped to fit in the requirements of GSS settings.
Briefly, the main research question posed by this study is “What are the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organizational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA.?”
Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of this proposed qualitative descriptive study is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organizational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA. Specifically, the purposes of the study are enumerated as follows:
- to define the degree of organization’s readiness to implement GGSs to a traditionally structured environment;
- to assess whether the application of GSSs will be a factor on the prevention of negative effects meetings may pose to productivity;
- to understand how GSS application will contribute to better levels of motivation, satisfaction, communication amongst members of the organization
Nature of the Study
This study will adopt qualitative research methods. Specifically, it is a case study on Defense Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) with headquarters located in Falls Church, VA. This organization is a federal defense agency serving medical needs to the country and worldwide USA Military personnel who are commissioned on active duty, reservist and retired professionals. Primary information would come from the leaders and employees of the organization. The study will first seek to explore Group Support Systems as well as group dynamics within an organizational context. In addition, the importance and usefulness of GSS to the organization will be a point of focus by exploring the limitations and the strengths of the system.
The case study will employ the use of focus group discussions with the organizational leaders and survey questionnaires with the employees.
- Focus Group Discussions shall be conducted with the leaders (directors, supervisors, etc.) regarding their use of GSS in arriving at organizational decisions. The focus group discussion will tackle the following questions:
- To what degree e-collaboration tools are used as a primary means of communication within a virtually-supported team environment?;
- What training programs should be implemented to promote employee-engagement, team building, and leadership?;
- How do GSSs overcome the spatial and temporal dimensions?;
- How do GSSs contribute to the group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?
- Survey Questionnaires shall be disseminated to the employees via email about their views and insights of GSS use. Such questionnaires will find out the following:
- What skills and abilities should employees possess to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by GSS environment?
- What are the main challenges of adjusting to computer-based environment?
- How can such dimensions as leadership, employees’ engagement, organizational learning and team building benefit from the introduction of GSSs?
Secondary sources of information would be a thorough literature review covering all elements related to Group Support Systems.
Company Profile of Defense Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA)
The Defense Health Agence (DHA, 2014), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) was established on October 1, 2013. It is central to the governance reforms of the Military Health system (MHS) with the mission of achieving greater integration of direct and purchased health care delivery systems in order to accomplish the 4 aims of the Department, namely:
- achieve medical readiness,
- improve the health of people,
- enhance the experience of care and
- lower healthcare costs.
Scope of the Study
This study will explore the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organizational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA. The study also aims to provide better understanding of how a new collaboration setting can contribute to the productivity and performance of an organizational team. In addition, the study will evaluate whether the GSSs application can compensate the challenges of virtual communication. Concepts such as leadership, organizational learning, and employees’ engagement shall be reassessed to suit new dimensions of success for motivating and increasing job satisfaction among the employees.
Because the integration of technological systems is a relatively new phenomenon, estimation of its successful adaptation to the employed environment can be ambiguous. In addition, the case study of only one organization does not provide a full picture of challenges. Information gathered from the respondents of the focus group discussion and the survey questionnaires are delimited to their views and although they may represent the views of their own unit, the conclusion will not be generalized to the whole population of organizations that adopted GSSs.
In this chapter, and overview of GSS is provided and how it may affect the effectiveness of an organization. It also presented the research problem that this paper will study and the methodology that will be employed for this qualitative research. The subsequent chapter (Chapter 2) will discuss a thorough review of the literature on GSS and organizational efficiency. Chapter 3 will focus on the methodology that this study will employ including how data will be analyzed. The fourth chapter will present the findings of the study derived from the focus group discussions and survey questionnaires and interpret it. Finally, the fifth and last chapter will provide the conclusions and recommendations of the study.
Review of Literature
The successful development of an organization depends on a plethora of factors that are specifically connected with structure, culture, and management mechanisms. The brief analysis of Group Support Systems (GGSs) has created implications for their further research to define how they influence the efficiency and overall performance. Integrating technology into an organization requires total reconstruction of business management. In order to accomplish the research, specific emphasis should be placed on several aspects. First, is necessary to examine various definitions of GSSs, as well as how they are applied in diverse fields. Second, it is purposeful to consider how GSSs can contribute to decision-making and conflict resolution in a global setting. Third, the paper seeks to assess the research studies dedicated to the analysis of the connection between technology and social environment to highlight the pitfalls of current management. Fourth, the examination of theories related to the group support system concept should be discussed. This is of particular concern to theory of acceptance and task closure theory that focus to the degree of interaction between a computer-based environment and social medium. Finally, the research will also refer to the connection between integration of support system and its influence on value creation, norms, and ethics. All these approaches are also premised on the constant interaction between virtual tools and collaborative environment ensuring support and flexibility to teamwork.
Due to the incessant competition, organizations are trying their best to curtail expenditures, augment the quality of their products, provide better customer service, and concentrate on their research and development (Akkirman & Harris, 2005). Important decisions are made in the organizations not individually, but in groups. This is followed in both the sectors; private as well as public (Matsatsinis et al., 2005). Healthy communications between team members can prove to be beneficial for the company because such communications increase the knowledge base of the employees and important information is shared (Woltmann, 2009). However, sometimes, due to the geographical locations of team members, such communication is not possible. Another problem with face-to-face communication is that each individual has very less amount of time to express his/her ideas and thoughts. This particular drawback is termed as air fragmentation (Bredl, 2009). Then, there is a possibility of supremacy by a single person. In addition, people are afraid to express their views because they are afraid that in case their ideas or thoughts are not up to the mark, other people will laugh and make a mockery (Wigert et al., 2012). Another reason for not expressing ideas is that individuals are of the opinion that if their ideas or thoughts are not liked by their superiors, they may be reprimanded and/or demoted. Earlier researches in this field show that in face-to-face meetings, almost 50% of the time is wasted. At this stage, the role of Group Support System becomes inevitable (Hayen et al., 2007). Group Support Systems can be explained as the tool that facilitates the communication between geographically distant team members or people through computer system (Kim, 2006; Pendergast & Hayne, 1995; Mennecke et al., 1992). Group Support Systems provide the organizations with various functions such as discussions, communications, data transfer, etc. (Ready et al., 2004). Such kind of a system permits individuals and organizations to categorize, assess, arrive at conclusions, and prepare for action (Vreede et al., 2003; Lewis & Shakun, 1996).
Group Support Systems
A brief evaluation of the GSSs has presented the term in the context of technological support that enhances project collaboration through integration of digital communication by means of various resources and tools (Brown et al., 2010; Hayward, 2010). However, there are many other alternative views on the scope and role of GSSs in an organizational setting. In particular, the studies by Ackermann and Eden (2011) have discovered that GSSs could be regarded as a representation of a cognitive theory due to their influence at all levels of organizational activities. In addition, GSSs have been employed to enhance negotiation of strategy making groups through an agreed direction. The scholars also insist, “…a GSS may particularly facilitate psychological negotiation within groups, supporting groups in reaching agreements about strategic direction” (Ackermann & Eden, 2011, p. 294). In order to understand the context within which GSSs are used, the focus should be made on a set of strategic interventions within a multi-national organization. This particular use of technology-based support system can allow group leaders to examine cognitive dynamics, namely how participants contribute to the agreement and information sharing between group members. Ackermann and Eden (2011) insisted that individual cognition shapes the underpinning for group negotiation as compared to the collective cognition. Although individual cognition prevents from understanding the role of GSSs in a group working, it is still vital to discuss them within the context of changing cognitions.
The importance of individual thinking is indispensible to evaluating how negotiation changes in the course of introduction of separate ideas and strategies. In this respect, GSSs build the means by which these changes are reflected. Jongsawat and Premchaiswadi (2011) also discussed the changing awareness in the research studies. Due to the fact that the group cognition is premised on the information the members operate during decision-making, group awareness indicates the readiness and availability of team while working on a particular project. In this respect, GSSs can be considered as tools by which the degree of group awareness is identified (Kolfschoten et al., 2012). Additionally, the system also serves as “an integrated computer-based system to facilitate the solution of unstructured of semistructured tasks by a group that has joint responsibility for performing the specific task” (Jongsawat & Premchaiswadi, 2011, p. 232). The main objective of GGSs; therefore, lies in achieving a final group decision with an effective agreement of needs and high quality of solutions.
Aside from the focus on computer-based environment, specific attention requires the role of social networks and face-to-face communication in changing attitudes of group members who enter a virtual space. In this respect, Smith and McKeen (2011) asserted that information technology system shape the basis of collaboration between team members that cannot access face-to-face communication. In this respect, GSSs can be presented as an ideal synergy of IT environment with the participants’ readiness to employ software for enhancing decision-making and communication. Such a perspective is also supported in Istudor and Duţă (2010) who refer to a GSS as to
“…an interactive software-based system meant to help decision-makers to compile useful information from raw data, documents, personal knowledge, and/or business models and artificial intelligence-based tools to identify, model and solve decision problems” (p. 191).
Therefore, group decision support system requires a specific combination of software, hardware, people, and procedures.
With regard to the above-presented terms, GSSs embrace a range of important components, issues, and conditions under which people could effectively interact. Computer-based systems therefore, seek to support activities through interactive communication. Their quality is identified by the degree to which solutions are provided. Importantly, human factor contributes to the effectiveness of online communication in terms of the competence and experience of the team members in applying technological tools (Young et al, 2010).
Group Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution
With regard to the proposed decisions, the main role of GSSs lies in improving decision-making and conflict management in a team (Goh & Wasko, 2010). Such a function is especially important as far as the global setting is concerned because more and more organizations operate in a culturally diverse environment. Indeed, a virtual decision-making process gains momentum in the globalization process. The tendency also leads to collective problem management by employees whose mobility can be increased through web-based collaborative tools (Kerr & Hiltz, 1993).
Rapid and interactive decision-making are facilitators to the development of virtual team software and support systems as well as the promotion of efficient conflict management and improved problem solving (Huang et al., 2010). What is more important is that the integration of IT grounds contributes to proliferation of much faster and practical solutions proposed in an online setting through social networking platforms, micro blogs, and discussion forums (Hayward, 2010). In this respect, Turban et al. (2011) referred to a fit-viability models that assist in evaluating whether social software is suitable to a decision task orientation, as well as organizational development. The scholars find it vital to take organizational culture and structure into consideration because they affect greatly the readiness of employees to accept changes. Similar to Turban et al. (2012), Lee and Dennis (2012) have examined the connection between a decision-making process and GSS. In particular, the researchers have focused on the analysis of the various schemes and measures that should integrated in a software-regulated environment to ensure successful decision-making. In the course of the study, Lee and Dennis have concluded, “the participants in an IT-enabled group decision-making meeting can import from the already existing socially constructed world” (p. 21). Hence, the virtual reality can be identified with the face-to-face communication because it also implies interaction of individuals for the purpose of providing viable solutions.
GGSs, as important sources of enhancing communication, provide a solid ground for reconstructing decisions. In fact, teamwork existing in a real life focuses on the decision-making as a prior action that any team should integrate (Goh & Wasko, 2010). However, traditional decision making in life setting implies a number of elements, including employed environment, cultural backgrounds, and employees’ needs. In the course of years, the evolution of group support into a technologically enabled network creates more challenges for sustainable operation. In this respect, Antunes and Costa (2010) supported the idea that, “group support systems…are seen not only as a communication support, but also as a “decision-enabling technology, supporting debate, organization of ideas, simulation and analysis of consequences, and ultimately, enabler of decisions” (p. 198). Additionally, they are also recognized as media that enhance knowledge acquisition, quality of decisions, and employees’ motivation to participate in negotiation.
Certainly, working in traditional team environments has a positive influence on instant negotiation for various urgent issues. However, globalized approach to management implies developing new mechanisms that can solve the problem of geographical location. The growth of collaborative team has become a regular process in business organizations (Chandra et al., 2010). However, the introduction of GSSs has provided new alternatives for cooperating and group decision-making. Aside from enhanced communication, GSSs positively contribute to human resource management. In particular, Yao et al. (2010) emphasized, “GSS is able to facilitate HR groups to gauge users’ opinions, readiness, satisfaction, etc., increase HRM activity quality, and generate better group collaborations and decision makings with current of planned HRIS services” (p. 401). Hence, while introducing a technology-supported environment, the focus on employees’ needs and welfare remains a crucial point.
Recent trends in developing business organizations are predetermined by a globally driven realm that dictates new, software-oriented settings. The proposed research studies have concluded that GSSs are not only regarded as periphery systems enhancing communications, but as the main tools for establishing relationships between geographically alienated areas. In addition, the integration of GSSs into a business setting promotes human resource management and develops new strategies for decision-making and conflict management.
Advantages and Disadvantages of GSS
Group Support Systems are proving to be more and more famous because of the frameworks capability to improve group benefits and interface. GSS offer a plausible and engaging option to the customary face-to-face conferences and the management finds them to be beneficial, in light of the fact that conferences can frequently squander time or are inefficient (Aiken et al., 1995). Nonetheless, there are several benefits and drawbacks of group support system.. Figure 1 enlists such advantages and disadvantages of Group Support System.
Group Support Systems have numerous advantages. Such advantages include secrecy, parallel contacts, computerized record keeping, more structure and increased output (Vreede & Brujin, 1999). Secrecy permits thoughts to be shared anonymously, which in turn boosts the level of confidence among people to participate in the process (Aiken et al., 1995). As a result of this provision of secrecy the members of the team do not have any inhibitions such as mockery by other team members. Another advantage is that the team members can give their opinions free from any fear of not following the manager’s opinion. It was found that over 80% of errands that included secrecy were about thought creation and it empowers the support of the team in the presentation of unpredictable thoughts (Pissarra & Jesuino, 2005).
In face to face gatherings, individuals should lend ears to what others talk and do not have time to ponder, however a Group Support System permits everybody to express their opinion simultaneously (Dennis et al., 2008). In conventional gatherings, each individual has just a couple of minutes to express thoughts, whereas Group Support System permits communication all through the conference. There is an augmented partaking and the conference is lively and fruitful. The conference is lively and fruitful due to the fact that the team members are allowed to use their thoughts in an unexpected approach. This is also crucial because each individual has his/her own level of intelligence and as such, various new thoughts can be generated (Aiken et al., 1995).
A Group Support System immediately records remarks, voting status, and other important data given by a group. Since there is automatic record keeping facility in GSS, the obtained records are automatically saved in an e-file (Aiken et al., 1995). The plus point in this kind of facility is that the team members or the managers need not carry hard copies of the records whenever and wherever required. They do not have to keep mental track of the proceedings (Bredl, 2009). In conventional aggregation settings members frequently neglect to fathom the narration of the speaker or on the other hand may be unable to process the information rapidly enough to contribute efficiently (Aiken et al., 1995).
Additionally, more composition and concentration is enforced into a conference that makes it tough, rather impossible, for the members to veer away from the concerned topic or problem. It is understood that the Group Support Systems minimize the distractions prevailing between teams that are functioning towards a common aim of completing any particular venture or assignment (Agres et al., 2005). This helps in avoiding rushed and imperfect assessments. This system also ensures more output due to the fact that the meeting concentrates only on a particular problem and as such, the time consumed is less – no deviations. It is a proven fact that the IT giant IBM was able to halve the time consumed in meetings. The aviation giant Boeing was able to decrease the total time consumed in various ventures by 90 percent (Aiken et al., 1995).
Despite the fact that there are certain advantages of GSS, there are also certain disadvantages. Disadvantages consist of sluggish communication, imperviousness to transformation, absence of media sumptuousness, enhancement of disagreements, loss of nexus members, improper use of technology, and high expenditures (Elfvengreen, 2008; Hayen et al., 2007; Huber, 1980).
Individuals have distinctive studying styles and some take ideas or strategies at a relatively sluggish speed as compared to others. It is understood that there are certain individuals who cannot match their typing speeds with their verbal communication. There are also certain individuals who have insignificant keyboard abilities. Even though this particular disadvantage is gradually diminishing, it is still a hindrance during some specific meetings (Kerr & Hiltz, 1993). It is always advisable to employ a group support system for meetings of bigger magnitude. The point when the magnitude of the group is more than eight, the point of interest of analogous correspondence has a tendency to overshadow the detriments of constrained keyboarding abilities (Wigert et al., 2012).
People are usually extremely impervious to transformation, particularly pertaining to technology. Individuals are regularly threatened by workstations and feel debilitated when interacting with new individuals (Dennis et al, 2008). Employing a Group Support System includes preparing to utilize the programming and some individuals may be impervious to study how to utilize the framework. Managers at higher posts, who are most certainly not workstation proficient, are more inclined towards having a predisposition against utilizing the system while being more inclined towards using the conventional system (Aiken et al., 1995).
The Group Support System greatly depends on hard copies of information, and subsequently different types of correspondence are diminished. In conventional conferences, non-verbal communication and facial statements can assist other team members to have an idea about the reaction of any particular comment (Parker, 2011). Team members always favor face to face correspondence and as such the Group Support System can prove to be detrimental in making the conferences unfriendly and only related to the concerning problem (Ready et al., 2004).
Likewise there could be an enhancement in disagreements because of obscurity in the conference, since the comments of certain individuals might be critical. Members might abuse the system in light of the fact that the remarks are secret and one member could submit different remarks fortifying different members. This might make it appear that more individuals concur with a remark when they might be incorrect (Spiro, 2010). Additionally, individuals who want to command a verbal gathering might be less intrigued by contributing to GSS in light of the fact that they are unable to utilize their verbal aptitudes (Aiken et al., 1995). Be that as it may, bashful members are more probable to take an interest in the system and this inclination augments their participation (Spiro, 2010).
One of the main apprehensions with Group Support System programming devices is the expense which usually fluctuates between US $15,000 and US $50,000. This is particularly the scenario with Group Support System that is intended for utilization in a decision-room background (Kim, 2006). Hence, a substantial amount of money might be involved that might not be cost effective until and unless it is adopted on a regular basis by an organization. It is estimated that specifically crafted Group Support System cabins at the University of Mississippi had huge expenses – US $250,000. A smaller version of such a cabin could cost around US $90,000 (Aiken et al., 1995). Nonetheless, further improvements and upgrades in freely accessible e-collaboration have made numerous Group Support System aspects easy to access that involves no expenses or if at all there are any expenses, they are negligible (Pearlman & Gates, 2010).
Understanding the Gaps between Technology and Social Environment
Rapid integration of technological support in social environments has provided a new framework for operating within a business organization. In particular, the development of GSSs requires acquisition of new skills, experiences, and competences among the employees, which influence the effectiveness of their performance (Bredl, 2009). In fact, virtual teams do not cede the teams to negotiating in a real environment, except for a few issues. In particular, the employees communicating in a virtual space can be less encouraged to achieve trustful and motivated relationships (Cahalane, et al., 2010). The created gap can negatively contribute to further advancement of IT-enabled group support and management. In order to understand the problem, analysis of research studies should be introduced (Dennis et al., 2008).
The emergence of digital community is not a novel issue since the adoption of first technology-based models of collaboration date back to the second half of the past century (Mattison, 2011). In addition, Short (2012) introduced studies in which the focus is on the development and acquisition of new, alternative skills that expand experience in communicating at various levels. In fact, GSS technology substitutes a social context for brainstorming, problem solving, negotiation, and communication by means of an electronic environment (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). In this respect, the assumption that virtual environment can create communication gaps is false. Rather, the scholars insist, “the main objective of GDSS is to enhance the process of the group decision-making by eliminating communication barriers, offering techniques for alternative’s decision analysis” (p. 32). At this point, GSS technology is advanced at information-processing dimension that largely depends on such characteristics as place, time, and synchronicity.
Collaborating technology and group-decision making is vital for entering a culturally diverse setting. In order to integrate this environment, employees must be provided with new tools and skills for collaboration (Chandra et al., 2010). However, the above-mentioned challenges have provided a number of limitations to integrating and developing IT-enabled communities in the workplace. In order to eliminate this gap, Kolfschoten et al. (2012) advised to consider two types of support: technology support and process support, both of which involve design task, application task, and management tasks. These three dimensions rely on associated roles and responsibilities imposed on the members of a business organization. In addition, Kolfschoten et al. (2012) introduced a framework for collaboration and technology-based support, group members should focus on such roles as development, application, and management of design administration. In particular, there should be a process designer, or a collaboration engineer, whose primary responsibility is confined to preparing the meeting process. Second, process application is another dimension that should introduced to collaborative activities. In this respect, a facilitator provides instructions monitoring the group members and assisting them in achieving the established objectives. At this stage, the facilitator should take responsibility for preparing and operating software, including the technical tools assembling the meeting facilities. Finally, management process should focus both on e-collaborative tools and on human resources involvement into the collaborative process.
With regard to the reviewed research studies, it can be concluded that, in order to fulfill the gap between technology and social environments, it is necessary to create a new alternative setting in which employees can improve their communication and develop new skills replacing and improving traditional means of group interaction. A specific framework proposed for this solution refers to three dimensions, including design, application, and management that should engage third parties ensuring successful communication and fruitful outcomes.
It is beyond any doubt that Group Support Systems are being employed by various organizations throughout the world. The organizations opt for the Group Support System because the GSS decreases the travelling costs, augments the adequacy of decision making and develops a working atmosphere where ideas are generated fast and there is innovation all around the work process (Bose, 2003). Organizations prefer such Group Support Systems that are economical, adaptable and can reconcile with their current information system (Bose, 2003). There are numerous aspects of computer aided interactions that influence the output of organizations pertaining to team attempts – a specific mention of e-coordination is eminent. The main aim of the Group Support System is to augment the adequacy and effectiveness of group collaboration by expediting the distribution of data between the team members (Goh & Wasco, 2010). PC interceded communication needs social habitations and influences the discernment and understanding of the significance of messages shared which makes the sharing of data around scattered teams somewhat troublesome (Kim, 2006). Because of the level of promptness of communication and absence of enough socio-zealous signs displayed in computer-intervened communication in contrast to face to face meetings, the time required for coming to conclusions is amplified and there is a disagreement between members that results in not reaching to any conclusion within the stipulated time (Andres, 2002). The inefficiency of PC-intervened communication to transfer socio-zealous matter in messages is discovered to incite lower fulfillment with the issue comprehending procedure (Andres, 2002).
Numerous collaborative tools are presently accessible with a wide array of characteristics and costs. Various GSSs are available in the global market like, Netscape’s Collabra Share, Novell’s Groupwise, Microsoft’s Exchange and Group Systems (Siau, 2004). It is necessary for business groups and people to identify their actual need and budget before opting for any GSS. These options now incorporate team underpin for the normal web client and could be connected to additional individual utilizations, for example family picture collections and family tree learning. Then again, organizations now have a wide assortment of choices for supporting group collaborations with PC-interceded devices for additional successful team actions and communications (Dennis et al., 2008).
Group Support Systems are amazingly favourable to business conglomerations, scholastic conglomerations, and other people. They are picking up acknowledgement as a viable PC based interaction instrument. Cooperation and decisions made by teams are a critical methodology inside associations and are promoted in scholastic settings (Bessiere et al., 2009). Teams that are topographically scattered can interact as though they were together at the same place concurrently. The conglomerations that at present utilize these frameworks are diminishing travelling expenses while augmenting output. New innovations and enhanced characteristics will lure conglomerations that presently do not utilize GSS networks so they can distinguish the plus points of this system. Since conglomerations have a global competition, Group Support Systems expedite correspondence (Schouten et al., 2010). This is a successful utilization of Group Support Systems.
The scholarly environment every now and again has scholars partaking in team ventures and identified communication. Alternatives are accessible to meet these cooperation ventures. They may be directed through message, inside a course administration framework, or with other considerably accessible, economical instruments (Young et al, 2010). The instrument that provides unsurpassed support is considered to be the superior one. In this way, scholars are presently confronted with numerous of the identical options in selecting that synthesis of characteristics which best furnishes collaboration for a specific learning atmosphere. Taking into account the pattern of a ceaselessly growing Group Support System instrument is tried and tested in this research, the hindrances to e-cooperation have been eradicated by several upgrades in the innovation. The true test now is the way to most effectively utilize such innovations (Wigert et al., 2012; Schouten et al., 2010).
There are several collaborative tools on the market such as WebDemo, Sametime, eRoom, Microsoft NetMeeting, Interwise, Groove, PlaceWare, WebEx, and GroupSystems (Hayen et al., 2007). All such programming devices offer numerous characteristics and advantages that may be convenient to a conglomeration hinging upon their necessities. The e-collaboration feature is accessible to any web consumer through websites such as Google (Google, 2013), MSN (Microsoft, 2013a), and Yahoo (Yahoo, 2013). Some of the plus points of a few major collaborative tools are examined in the ensuing paragraphs.
- GroupSystems offer conceptualizing purpose and is particularly important in scenarios where obscurity, positioning, and voting are important. It permits all members to think and express outside the standard face to face frontiers and permits all people to participate in inventive or issue explaining targets instead of just a couple of features (GroupSystems, 2006). GroupSystems give structure and incorporate the extra feature of secrecy, when needed. Conglomerations utilizing Group Support System programming have saved almost half to three fourth of their expenditure and time as compared to the traditional face to face meetings. (GroupSystems, 2006). Undoubtedly, GroupSystems has some peculiar and vigorous features that make the use of Group Support Systems very easy and uncomplicated. Such features are not available in many of the other collaborative tools.
- Microsoft’s NetMeeting offers videoconferencing, remote desktop sharing, and added security (Hayen et al., 2007). Information encryption, client validation and password security are offered in order to guarantee security (Microsoft, 2013b). Sound and movie upgrades permit members to view other individuals and exchange thoughts and discussions. The whiteboard characteristic permits members to work together continuously with others utilizing realistic qualified data and the remote desktop imparting alternatives allows clients call a remote PC to enter its imparted desktop and provisions (Microsoft, 2013b).
- Groove is yet another Group Support System programming from Microsoft. Groove facilitates the convening of meetings and ventures and keeps a record of all the details pertaining to them (Microsoft, 2013c). Important qualified information for example statistics, records, messages, conferences, and forms are united in one place for everybody in the group to view. Allies inside the conglomeration and outside the conglomeration might be united and team members can dependably know the virtual area, or online vicinity of other team members which facilitates speedy discussion and coordinated efforts (Microsoft, 2013c). Additionally, every living soul can work with the same informative content if they are on the web, logged off or on a low frequency connection. Virtual teams cut across national, organizational, and functional boundaries, often resulting in diversity in team composition (Paul et al., 2005).
- Google’s Groups and Docs & Spreadsheets expedite Group Support System e-coordinated effort for the normal Internet client, since this facility is furnished free of cost. In Groups, users develop a discussion board where other users can post their ideas. Clients post their comments, read others’ comments and enter into a discussion board if required. It is possible to make a discussion group open to all or limited to certain people only. In an open group anyone can participate in the discussion and post his/her comments. In a closed group, only the requested people have the authority to read and post comments. There are various categories available and each category has several groups. With Docs & Spreadsheets, clients have an imparted work region for their e-coordinated effort. They can upload files or other documents so that people in the group can see these files and documents and make any amendments if required. It is noteworthy that the required amendments in files and other documents can only be made if both the persons – one who has uploaded the files and/or documents and the other who is supposed to make the amendments – are online at the same time. This means that the files and/or the documents can be shared concurrently. This e-coordinated effort is conveyed without utilizing a web program. Google’s Groups and Docs & Spreadsheets are examples of Group Support System tools that can be accessed from anywhere via the internet.
Group Support Systems that give e-coordinated efforts have come to be standardized in the previous decade. This system is not accessible to only the bigger conglomerates. It is promptly accessible and extensively utilized by the normal web associated independent people as well. Nevertheless, this has additionally energized the development of Group Support Systems e-coordinated effort all through the organizations and today’s community. In the event that an organizational member is not utilizing Group Support System with any group related functions in the workplace or school setting, the group’s coordinated efforts may need to be re-evaluated (Google, 2013).
Interaction Between Computer-Based and Social Environments
The success of GGSs integration depends largely on the psychological and cultural factors. In particular, technology acceptance and recognition is the step toward successful penetration to e-collaborative dimension (Bakker et al., 2011). In this respect, specific emphasis should be placed on theory of acceptance and task closure theory that provide key steps toward gradual acquisition of necessary knowledge, experience, and skills (Owens et al., 2011).
In studies provided by Brown et al. (2010), attention is paid to technology acceptance as the starting point for developing mature group support systems. The concept of maturity implies the presence of models and frameworks that can be employed to a decision-making process. In particular, the researchers introduce the technology acceptance model that seeks to define “…specific classes of technologies that capture the nuances of the class of technologies and/or business processes” (Brown et al., 2010, p. 2). A set of issues constructs the technology acceptance model, including social presence theory and the task closure theory. The latter implies that the social presence and recipient availability constitute the key underpinnings for choosing a communication medium. The model also suggests that the above-presented qualities are significant for selecting a specialized tool for interaction because individuals express the need to bring closure to message sequences. Choosing an appropriate communication device will allow people to feel that they can efficiently achieve results while negotiating.
Aside from developing virtual collaboration, the basic function of GSSs lies in developing a social construction of meaning. Based on task closure theory, Chou and Min (2009) focus on the influence of media environment and group members on the relationship among breadth and depth of information sharing. The researchers also adhere to the idea that, “task closure theory is appropriate for explaining why a low social presence medium (such as electronic information sharing) paradoxically leads to high performance when dealing with fuzzy task” (Chou and Min, 2009, p. 428). Technology acceptance is largely premised on successful knowledge management and corporate software support system that facilitate strategic decision-making and enhance the competitiveness of an organization (Kimble et al., 2010). In fact, within the context of knowledge management, group support system can be regarded as consultation systems the employ artificial intelligent techniques to organize knowledge and make it available for decision-making frameworks. In addition, Trivedi and Sharma, (2012) represent Group Support System in a larger conceptual framework, along with Software Support System and Technology Acceptance Model to emphasize its significance for an organization. In particular, the researchers believe that successful implementation of GGSs is possible through consideration of psychological factors that make individuals accept various types of group support systems.
The awareness of reminiscent models of support systems, as well as technology frameworks for adopting theses systems, is another means for successful integration of IT-enabled technological environment. In fact, GSSs cannot exist separately from such dimensions as information sharing and exchange, knowledge management, and human factor (Koan, 2011). What is more important is that GSSs should correlate with other technology models, such as Software Support System, Decision Support System and Technology Acceptance Model (Richey et al., 2012). Finally, task closure theory is also indispensible to sustaining GSSs and creating a new social construct within an organization (Short, 2012).
Group Support Systems and Value Creation in a Business Organization
The efficiency of GSSs lies in its relevant adjustment to business and employees’ needs. In this respect, the computer-supported environment should also conform to values, mission, and ethnic standards of an organization (Trivedi & Sharma, 2012). The synergy of GSS frameworks and corporate culture can be premised on a number of issues and rationales.
System thinking often opposes the individual decision-making, but this scheme is not consistent with the actual objectives of group support system and its contribution to value creation (Webne-Behrman, 2008). At this point, Ackermann et al. (2010) argue that introduction of computer-based interactive systems add greater value to group management. Various software devices create the link between traditional meetings and proposed virtual settings. In addition, Yao et al. (2010) state that the main advantage of GSSs lies in better awareness of problems, as compared to individual thinking. A technology-supported group has more data at their disposal than any separate member coordinating with each other. In this respect, developing a collective system is possible through GSSs only, which presents a new value for the relationships within an organization. Finally, GSSs are less likely to fail because all processes and activities are carried out in coordination, but not at an individual level (Trivedi & Sharma, 2012).
The significance of GSSs for a business organization is also enhanced with resourced-based capabilities that information technologies introduce. In particular, a range of IT resources creates a competitive advantage and, therefore, provides value to business activities. In this respect, Ramamani (2010) states, “information systems researchers have applied the resource-based view to suggest that some firms view IT assets as key resources and exploit it to leverage competitive advantage” (p. 12). In this respect, combining various techniques and resources within a GSS is beneficial for enhancing the value and mission of an organization. What is more important is that the success of the technology-enhanced support is ensured through pertinent interaction between organizational routines and software utilization (Paul et al., 2005).
With regard to the above-presented findings, it should be stressed that a decision-making process in an organization is more congruent with group thinking. The studies also suggest that successful implementation of GSSs can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of group decision-making through reducing negative effects of collective problem solving and increasing the advantages of group collaboration (Hayward, 2010). Within a GSS setting, the quality of solutions can be enhanced significantly by the possibility to manipulate visual aids, individual-based incentives, group size, communication mode, types of software tools, leadership roles, and incentives (Woltman, 2009).
GSSs and Efficient Leadership
There is significant gap between development of group support system and leadership in a virtual space (Huang et al., 2010). In fact, traditional leadership strategies should be modified to adapt to a new business setting and take control of the employees’ engagement into technology-based environment. Although the emergence of virtual world communication has become a common issue in a global environment, there is still lack of pertinent resources and tools that could integrate this new skills and experiences into business. Nevertheless, virtual worlds can become the means of collaboration and communication as soon as managers and employees are able to manipulate digital devices representing their objectives (Goh & Wasko, 2010).
Leadership is an important condition for fostering GSSs into traditional collaborative team. Specifically, Boughzala et al. (2012) emphasize, “interpersonal and leadership dynamics in team collaboration are different than the real world” (p. 723). For instance, since the members of e-meetings are represented through avatars, they cannot evaluate each other’s nonverbal communication. At this point, facilitators can face difficulties in understanding the members’ perceptions and responses to collaborative processes. IT environment also creates challenges for facilitators to control participants and ensure successful coordination, which can result in conflicts and miscommunication. The concerned are even more serious when it comes to the facilitators who charismatic character can be underestimated in a virtual world. Therefore, leadership in a virtual world is another important aspect that has been insufficiently examined in research literature. In order to solve this problem, Boughzala et al. (2012) suggest that leadership-team performance can be improved in case a leader substitute framework ensures team’s collaboration context, including task orientation, environment and performance. Under these circumstances, the importance of leadership will not be prioritized.
As soon as leadership frameworks is removed, an alternative environment should be created that should be not less efficient. Trust, cooperation, and mutual agreement are among the main underpinnings for establishing GSSs. In this respect, Charles (2010) proposes a fresh and interesting approach to solving this problem through engaging virtual members into a game. In particular, the scholar notes, “the nature of play is fundamentally distinct from work…when we play, there may be a goal, but the goal is by no means the ends” (Charles , 2010, p. 23). Playing, therefore, is often aimed at entertaining and encouraging participants to compete, interact, and communicate, with no pressure imposed on them. Therefore, such an approach can become a remarkable solution to acting in a virtual environment.
Leadership traits in Group Support Systems
Good leadership has the ability to elucidate the way to the objective, diminishing deterrents that avert the members from arriving at these objectives and augment the group’s fulfillment in accomplishing the objective (Kim, 2006). Leaders are capable of creating and upholding the connection between fulfillment and output of the group by utilizing diverse authority styles whose viability could be directed by the complexity of the errand (Kim, 2006). The leader must have the capacity to acclimate to distinctive programs and exercises and test issues from diverse points of view and in the meantime, have an authority over the available technology (Ready et al., 2004). Another point of contention is that the interactive teams might have a tendency to perform badly due to the fact that the individuals have a tendency to conform their output to the individual who is at the bottom in giving output (Pissara & Jesuino, 2005). It is an understood fact that people or team members will not perform well simply due to the presence of a leader. The leader has to have good leadership qualities and has to perform better to set a good example and become a role model himself (Kim, 2006).
In order to keep the efforts of the masses concentrated in one direction i.e. achieving the goal, an efficient leader is a must. Without a leader, the efforts of the employees will be scattered and the motive will not be achieved (Kim, 2006). An efficient leader will have the motivation injected in the employees and they will work as a team and teamed efforts seldom fail. Efficient leaders can have a great impact on the employees. Organizations should employee such leaders who have the competence to motivate the employees and lead them to follow the business ethics. “Even if senior management and employees embrace a code of ethics, someone needs to be put in charge of applying and updating it” (Spiro, 2010).
A study by Kim (2006) discovered that teams that had a leader reported a larger amount of fulfillment with the decision process than teams that had no leader. The study also discovered that parallel correspondence mode teams reported a more elevated amount of fulfillment with the decision process than consecutive correspondence teams. This prospective drawback is tended to by even the lowest ranked and no-expense e-cooperation instruments where a leader sets up the meeting area and welcomes team members.
A portion of the collaborative tools puts stress on the actions pertaining to decision making. These Group Support Systems, like the GroupSystems, incorporate practical characteristics to underpin the methodologies fundamental to achieve an imparted team decision concerning a business issue or chance. Other collaborative tools are administered towards offering informative content. These Group Support Systems, for example Google Groups, provide backup situations for e-cooperation with discussion teams and archive the details, however without characteristics like standings and voting on options (Google, 2013).
The team correspondence atmosphere is adapting quickly with the rise of new innovations, where a large portion of the e-coordinated effort devices are currently accessible at minimal cost (Mattison, 2011). This augmentation of innovation permits aggregate members to view one another and show feelings when utilizing motion picture conferencing, sound and content visits. These members have the capacity to appropriate a portion of the same profits that teams get when they participate in face to face conferences (Matsatsinis et al., 2005).
Conglomerations are extensively using the electronic medium to conduct meetings in order to augment the performance. In light of the fact that efficient leadership is the main criteria for the success of a group venture, it becomes imperative to analyze how the conduct and approach of leaders have an impact on the teams utilizing electronic system for conferences. In order to ascertain this very aspect, a research was conducted by Kahai et al. (2006) that proved that (a) Participants made more strong comments under a consultative manifestation of participative initiative than commanding leadership; (b) Participants proposed more results and made fewer discriminating comments for a decently organized issue than for a tolerably organized issue; (c) Participative initiative was more helpful to proposal of results for a reasonably organized issue, while authoritative leadership was more helpful for an equitably organized issue; and (d) Frequency of result suggestions in turn influenced the group output and fulfillment (Kahai et al., 2006).
While writing on any specific feature, innovation or technology, it is very important to view both the sides – positive as well as negative. Having considered all the positive aspects of the Group Support Systems, now it becomes imperative to consider or discuss the negative aspects as well. In fact there is not much negative feedback as far as the Group Support System is concerned. On the contrary, fingers have been pointed at the leadership issue. There has been a case where the Group Support System failed due to the oversight or incompetence of the leadership (Parent & Gallupe, 2001). In an experiment that was conducted to ascertain the effect of Group Support Systems on meeting results showed that, “facilitated groups experienced improved group processes and greater cohesion, whereas the GSS supported groups did not” (Anson et al., 1995). What does this prove? Well, it is quite obvious that the results of the experiment proved that instead of the group that was supported by the Group Support System, the group that was helped by a facilitator showed better results.
Conclusion and Chapter Summary
An in-depth evaluation of research literature has presented a wider outlook on the dimension of influence of technology-supported environment. In particular, the reviewed works overview definitions and explanations of GSSs, as well as how their integration can contribute to decision-making, flexibility, and conflict resolution in a global setting. The point is that business organization are inclined to train and motivate their employees to utilize software for enhancing interaction and creating new, safer methods of information exchange. However, in order to successfully implement GSSs, a gap between technology and social environment should be fulfilled. The majority of scholars insist that strong theoretical framework is the key for building healthier business environment and increasing the potential of technology-enabled employees. Greater awareness of the available capabilities and resources can trigger the development of new methods and techniques can add to the value and mission of any business organization. In particular, the analysis of theory of acceptance and task closure theory proves that GSSs are premised on the acceptance mechanisms worked in an organizational context for advancing technological innovation. What is more important is that these theories will allow employees to accept the novelties and adjust to a rapidly changing setting. Finally, value creation in a technologically savvy setting increases performance and creates a competitive advantage over other organizations. In general, the reviewed literature introduces a strong support for developing methodology and research design to answer the research questions. Chapter 3 includes the research method and design to help address this problem.
A research methodology defines the purpose of the research, how it proceeds, how to measure progress and what constitute success with respect to the objectives determined for carrying out the research study. Since the research objective was to explore consequences of the integration of GSS on organizational efficiency, a focus group discussion with the leaders of DHHQ, in Falls Church, VA. as well as the answering of a questionnaire on the use of GSS by employees of the organization.
This study will explore the insights and opinions of leaders and workers of DHHQ in Falls Church, VA on the incorporation of GSS in the organization and how it affects the organization’s efficiency especially in the area of decision-making through focus group discussions and the completion of survey questionnaires.
The participants of this case study include the leaders and workers of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) with headquarters located in Falls Church, VA.
The main research question posed by this study is “What are the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organizational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA.?”
The study will use qualitative research methods. Qualitative methods such as interviews are useful in yielding new insights or perspectives so one can gain a deeper understanding of information (Strauss & Corbin, 1990; Robson, 2002)., Quantitative researchers pursue causal determination, prediction, and generalization of findings while qualitative researchers seek illumination and understanding to similar situations. Consequently, qualitative analysis results in a different type of knowledge than does quantitative inquiry (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Qualitative researchers search for a variety of perspectives (Glesne, 1999). For example, in qualitative research, face-to-face interactions are the predominant distinctive feature and also the basis for its most common problem. Such problem includes researchers’ involvement with the people they study and the accompanying challenges, and opportunities that such closeness brings.
Specifically, this research will launch a case study on a federal defense agency serving medical needs to the country and worldwide USA Military personnel who are commissioned on active duty, reservist and retired professionals. Defense Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) has adopted GSS and this study will find out if it works in improving the efficiency of the organization.
A case study is defined by Leonard-Barton (1990) as an “in depth investigation comprising an oral, archival and secondary-based history of a past or current phenomenon. The phenomenon being researched, always dictates, so some extent, the terms of its own dissection and exploration” (p. 249). Tellis (1997) explained that case studies are selective, focusing only on one or two issues in order to understand the whole system being investigated. Zivkovic (2012) contended that the case study is often without clear methodological thoroughness that other research methods have due to the fact that there is a lack of formal protocol in conducting it, and the perceived obviousness of the results.
Focus Group Discussion
Semi structured interviews provide enough flexibility to interviewers and allows for participants to expound on their answers. Digressing to another topic should be controlled by the interviewer so that they stay on the issue at hand. The interviewees should be made to feel confident, relaxed and encouraged to express their deepest thoughts about the subject being studied but at the same time, made to feel that there are certain expectations from him. The interviews were recorded and transcribed in verbatim for qualitative analysis.
Winter (2000) argued that participants’ answers to questions posed to them regarding their own experiences are enough as long as they are truthful so they become considered valid (Butt, 1992). “In the case of the human sciences it is the congruence of our text of understanding with the lived reality of persons” (Eisner & Peshkin, 1990 pp. 97-98). This means that validity would depend on how well we represent the perceptions, feelings, thinking, experience of persons, the breadth, depth and interrelations of issues, concerns and themes (Butt, 1992). Thus, in exploring the experiences of others, the best methodology would be through interviews. These give a vivid vivid picture of participants’ perspectives and they are considered the experts on the topic.
For this study, the focus group discussion with DHA organizational leaders will be semi-structured with the researcher asking some questions and allowing such questions to be springboards to open discussions. The following questions will be field-tested by the researcher to people outside DHA to gain feedback to on how people respond to them. The questions may be revised depending on the results of the field testing:
- Please share how much time you spend on real-time, face-to-face meetings where members are physically present in the same room? (before and after the integration of GSS).
- What GSS do you use?
- What are the effects of integrating GSS in your organization?
- How much do you know about GSS and its use?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using GSS?
- To what degree e-collaboration tools are used as a primary means of communication within a virtually-supported team environment?
- How did the employees respond to the integration of GSS?
- What training programs should be implemented to promote employee-engagement, team building, and leadership?
- How do GSSs overcome the gaps in spatial and temporal dimensions?
- How does GSS affect their efficiency?
- What skills are required for one to be able to use GSS?
- What challenges have you encountered in using GSS?
- How do GSSs contribute to the group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?
- Would you recommend the integration of GSS to other organizations? Why or Why not?
Questionnaires will be used because they are a versatile data-gathering method because of its affordability and ease of administration (Campbell et al, 2004). Cohen, et al. (2000) also praised the use of questionnaires for their efficiency. It allows the researcher to collect a significant amount of information in one attempt, rather than conducting interviews over a period of weeks. Gillham (2000) wrote that questionnaires make efficient use of the respondent’s time, because the survey participant can complete the questionnaire at a time that is suitable, and the survey process does not require the researcher and respondent to match free periods of time to conduct the research. Writing their remarks on open spaces in the questionnaires was useful in exploring the respondents’ insights that may not fit within the closed question part of the questionnaire.
For this study, survey questionnaires with additional spaces for explanations to elaborate their responses in will be distributed to DHA employees via email. The survey-questionnaire will likewise be field-tested and revised as needed before distribution.
It is appropriate to use this research method because the researcher will gain insights directly from the participants. Initially, respondents answer the survey questionnaire items and then elaborate on their responses by writing their comments or remarks in the spaces provided for. Percentages of responses for each item were analysed. The qualitative aspect of the research design will be the narrative remarks the participants will write to show their insights about the items asked in the questionnaire as well as their responses in the focus group discussion, which aims to delve deeper into the issues in the questionnaire (See Appendix B).
Procedures of the Study
Permission to conduct the case study shall be sought from the officer-in-charge of DHA with a letter of request (Appendix A). The letter will explain the objectives of the study and the methodology to be employed. It will indicate that a focus group discussion is planned to be conducted with the leaders of the organization while a survey questionnaire shall be emailed to the employees for completion. Upon getting approval, the focus group discussion will be scheduled at the time most convenient to the participants while the questionnaires will be emailed to the Human Resources department for dissemination to the employees.
Analysis of Data
Data from the focus group discussion will be analysed qualitatively and compared to information derived from the literature. With the questionnaires, descriptive statistics derived from percentages of responses per item will be plotted in graphs or charts and compared and analyzed accordingly together with the qualitative data from the explanations of answers in the questionnaire.
This study complied with ethical standards and considerations involved when conducting research with human participants. A letter of consent to conduct the study with their personnel will be sent to the head of DHA. Confidentiality of information will be ensured so that the trust of the participants was established. Participation is non-obligatory and participants may withdraw anytime they feel like it.
This chapter discussed all details pertinent in carrying out the study from the research objectives, research problem, participants, instruments and the actual procedures to be followed all the way to how data derived will be analyzed. Ethical considerations were also discussed.
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Appendix A Permission Letter
Defense Health Agency
Falls Church, VA
Dear Sir/ Madam:
I am a student of (name of university) currently finishing my degree in (name of degree). My dissertation is on the consequences of the integration of Group Support Systems (GSS) on the efficiency of organizational meetings
I am aware that your organization has been using GSS. I am interested in knowing about how it has affected the efficiency in your organization especially in terms of time management and decision making. In this regard, I am seeking your consent to disseminate a simple questionnaire (see attached) to your employees as well as conduct a group interview with you and other organizational leaders to discuss the effects of GSS on your company at your most convenient time.
I am hopeful that you will allow me to conduct my study with your participation. Please contact me at (contact details) to let me know of your decision or any concerns.
Looking forward to meeting you soon!
Appendix B Survey Questionnaire
Please complete the questionnaire with careful consideration of how you regard the integration of Group Support Systems (GSS) at work. When applicable, check on your selected response on the statement following the legend below:
- SD – Strongly Disagree
- D- Disagree
- NS- Not Sure
- A – Agree
- SA- Strongly Agree
Please write a brief explanation/clarification of our choice in the space provided for each number. You are free to expand the space for your explanation if needed.
Please answer the following:
- What are the main challenges of adjusting to computer-based environment?
- How can such dimensions as leadership, employees’ engagement, organizational learning and team building benefit from the introduction of GSSs?