Using Computer-Mediated Groups to Improve University Processes: An Action Research Study in New Zealand

Using Computer-Mediated Groups to Improve University Processes: An Action Research Study in New Zealand

Ned Kock (Texas A&M International University, USA) and James Corner (University of Waikato, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-825-3.ch006
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Abstract

We describe in this chapter an action research study of a computer-mediated business process redesign (BPR) group in a New Zealand university. The BPR group used an integrated BPR framework, which comprises a group process methodology, called MetaProi, and an asynchronous groupware tool. BPR group members were from two different departments and successfully redesigned two course-related processes. The study reveals some possible effects of computer mediation on groups that are particularly relevant for managers of distributed BPR projects, namely, lower demand for leadership skills, much lower overall running cost, and much lower degree of interaction. No impact on group effectiveness was observed. The study also indicates that computer mediation lowers barriers to and, in turn, fosters interdepartmental communication, which creates a suitable context for the occurrence of other BPR groups involving different departments. On the other hand, the study indicates that those groups lead to more threats to management, an effect that may lead to lack of support from managers for future BPR groups. Finally, the study suggests that strategic BPR groups, as opposed to those dealing with local operational issues, can better benefit from computer mediation when this is combined with face-to-face and other types of vocal interaction.

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