Culture and Anonymity in GSS Meetings

Culture and Anonymity in GSS Meetings

Moez Limayem (University of Arkansas, USA) and Adel Hendaoui (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch141
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

Managers spend a considerable part of their work time in meetings participating in group decision making. Group support systems (GSSs) are adopted in a variety of group settings?from within-organization team to multi-organization collaboration teams (Ackermann, Franco, Gallupe, & Parent, 2005)?to aid the decision-making process (Briggs, Nunamaker, & Sprague, 1998). A key characteristic of GSSs is anonymity, which improves various aspects of group performance, including improving group participation and communication, objectively evaluating ideas, and enhancing group productivity and the decision-making process (Nunamaker, Dennis, Valacich, Vogel, & George, 1991; Pinsonneault & Heppel, 1997; Postmes & Lea, 2000). Anonymity, as a distinct aspect of GSSs, was expected to increase productivity by reducing the level of social or production blocking, increasing the number of interpersonal exchanges, and reducing the probability of any one member dominating the meeting (Newby, Soutar, & Watson, 2003). For example, Barreto and Ellemers (2002) manipulated two aspects of anonymity separately: visibility of respondents (i.e., participants could or could not see who the other group members were) and visibility of responses (participants could or could not see the responses given by other group members). Results show that when group identification is low, anonymity manipulations affect group members’ effort. Similarly, in their experiment, Reinig and Mejias (2004) found that anonymous groups produced more critical comments than identified groups did at the group level of analysis. Numerous empirical findings have suggested that the use of anonymity and process structure in electronic brainstorming (EBS) generally promotes a positive effect on the number of ideas generated (Jessup, Connolly, & Galegher, 1990; Gallupe, Bastianutti, & Cooper, 1991) and quality of ideas achieved in decision making (Zigurs & Buckland, 1998). However, the anonymity function inherent in multiworkstation GSSs has been found to heighten conflict as members tend to communicate more aggressively because they tend to be more critical (Connolly, Jessup, & Valacich, 1990; Jessup, Connolly, & Tansik, 1990; Valacich, Jessup, Dennis, & Nunamaker, 1992), to have no effects on inhibition (Valacich, Dennis, & Connoly, 1994; Valacich et al., 1992), to increase group polarization (Sia, Tan, & Wei, 2002), and to have no effects on group performance (Valacich et al., 1994). Other studies show that, in terms of effectiveness, nominal brainstorming may be equal to (Gallupe et al., 1991; Cooper, Gallupe, Pollard, & Cadsby, 1998; Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001) or sometimes less than (Valacich et al., 1994; Dennis & Valacich, 1993) electronic brainstorming, indicating that at least as far as laboratory studies are concerned, empirical investigations have been inconclusive.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Managers spend a considerable part of their work time in meetings participating in group decision making. Group support systems (GSSs) are adopted in a variety of group settings—from within-organization team to multi-organization collaboration teams (Ackermann, Franco, Gallupe, & Parent, 2005)—to aid the decision-making process (Briggs, Nunamaker, & Sprague, 1998). A key characteristic of GSSs is anonymity, which improves various aspects of group performance, including improving group participation and communication, objectively evaluating ideas, and enhancing group productivity and the decision-making process (Nunamaker, Dennis, Valacich, Vogel, & George, 1991; Pinsonneault & Heppel, 1997; Postmes & Lea, 2000). Anonymity, as a distinct aspect of GSSs, was expected to increase productivity by reducing the level of social or production blocking, increasing the number of interpersonal exchanges, and reducing the probability of any one member dominating the meeting (Newby, Soutar, & Watson, 2003). For example, Barreto and Ellemers (2002) manipulated two aspects of anonymity separately: visibility of respondents (i.e., participants could or could not see who the other group members were) and visibility of responses (participants could or could not see the responses given by other group members). Results show that when group identification is low, anonymity manipulations affect group members’ effort. Similarly, in their experiment, Reinig and Mejias (2004) found that anonymous groups produced more critical comments than identified groups did at the group level of analysis.

Numerous empirical findings have suggested that the use of anonymity and process structure in electronic brainstorming (EBS) generally promotes a positive effect on the number of ideas generated (Jessup, Connolly, & Galegher, 1990; Gallupe, Bastianutti, & Cooper, 1991) and quality of ideas achieved in decision making (Zigurs & Buckland, 1998). However, the anonymity function inherent in multi-workstation GSSs has been found to heighten conflict as members tend to communicate more aggressively because they tend to be more critical (Connolly, Jessup, & Valacich, 1990; Jessup, Connolly, & Tansik, 1990; Valacich, Jessup, Dennis, & Nunamaker, 1992), to have no effects on inhibition (Valacich, Dennis, & Connoly, 1994; Valacich et al., 1992), to increase group polarization (Sia, Tan, & Wei, 2002), and to have no effects on group performance (Valacich et al., 1994). Other studies show that, in terms of effectiveness, nominal brainstorming may be equal to (Gallupe et al., 1991; Cooper, Gallupe, Pollard, & Cadsby, 1998; Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001) or sometimes less than (Valacich et al., 1994; Dennis & Valacich, 1993) electronic brainstorming, indicating that at least as far as laboratory studies are concerned, empirical investigations have been inconclusive.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Long-Term Orientation: The fostering of virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular perseverance and thrift. Its opposite pole, short-term orientation, stands for the fostering of virtues related to the past and present, in particular, respect for tradition, preservation of ‘face’, and fulfilling social obligations.

Uncertainty Avoidance: The degree to which a society feels threatened by uncertain and ambiguous situations, which leads its members to support beliefs promising certainty and to maintain institutions protecting conformity.

Culture: The collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.

Power Distance: The extent to which a society accepts the fact that power in institutions and organizations is unevenly distributed.

Group Support System (GSS): Any combination of hardware and software that enhances groupwork.

Masculinity: A preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material success; as opposed to femininity, which implies a preference for relationships, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life.

Individualism: A preference for a loose-knit social framework in a society in which individuals are only supposed to take care of themselves and their immediate families. This is opposed to collectivism, which implies a preference for a tightly knit social framework in which individuals can expect their relatives and clan to protect them in exchange for loyalty.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset