Facilitating Computer-Supported Meetings: An Exploratory Comparison of U.S. and Mexican Facilitators

Facilitating Computer-Supported Meetings: An Exploratory Comparison of U.S. and Mexican Facilitators

Fred Niederman (University of Baltimore, USA)
Copyright: © 1997 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/jgim.1997010102
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Abstract

Facilitation is a key element in managing meetings particularly for groups using group support systems (GSS) (Ackermann, 1993). Research comparing adoption of group support systems, however, found differences in understandings and preferences based on cultural background (Ho, Raman, & Watson 1989; Watson, Ho, & Raman, 1994). According to studies by Hofstede, Mexico and the U.S. differ markedly on three of four cultural dimensions. It would be expected that group facilitators in Mexico would differ from those in the U.S. in terms of what they see as (1) key elements to meeting success and as contributions and risks associated with use of GSS and (2) in their selection of tools and tasks for using GSS. Comparison of interview data gathered from 7 Mexican and 37 U.S. facilitators, showed similar views when aggregated into larger constructs. However, when examined in detail these also revealed a number of intriguing differences on the part of Mexican facilitators including (1) a greater concern with the physical environment, (2) greater concern with achieving expected rather than high quality results, (3) greater concern with group rather than individual facilitator skills, and (4) lesser concern for the influence of technology on group process. Both facilitator groups shared concerns regarding participant anxiety with technology and its effect on participation and the expectation of better meetings with careful planning and use of agendas. In interpreting these findings, the reader should note that some background characteristics, such as age and amount of experience leading meetings, differed between Mexican and U.S. facilitators. Facilitators also differed in their level of experience with GSS and with which GSS they were familiar

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