دانلود مقاله ISI انگلیسی شماره 9082
عنوان فارسی مقاله

بهبود بهره وری و خلاقیت در گروه آنلاین از طریق فرآیند مقایسه اجتماعی: شواهد جدید برای طوفان فکری الکترونیکی ناهمزمان

کد مقاله سال انتشار مقاله انگلیسی ترجمه فارسی تعداد کلمات
9082 2005 18 صفحه PDF سفارش دهید 7360 کلمه
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عنوان انگلیسی
mproving productivity and creativity in online groups through social comparison process: New evidence for asynchronous electronic brainstorming
منبع

Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)

Journal : Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 11–28

کلمات کلیدی
مقایسه اجتماعی - طوفان مغزی الکترونیکی - آموزش پشتیبانی مشترک کامپیوتر - خلاقیت - اینترنت
پیش نمایش مقاله
پیش نمایش مقاله بهبود بهره وری و خلاقیت در گروه آنلاین از طریق فرآیند مقایسه اجتماعی: شواهد جدید برای طوفان فکری الکترونیکی ناهمزمان

چکیده انگلیسی

This article extends the findings in synchronous room-based electronic brainstorming about the impact of social comparison process on productivity and creativity in a web-based context of asynchronous electronic brainstorming. Social comparison was manipulated with a feedback informing group members of their respective contributions on the electronic brainstorming task through a shared table regularly updated by a facilitator. In another group, although participants had the possibility to identify each contribution within the newsgroup, they did not receive any feedback in a shared table. Results showed that both group productivity and group creativity are better in the social comparison feedback condition than in the other condition. It appears that social comparison process has a positive impact on productivity and creativity in a web-based context of asynchronous electronic brainstorming, but only when participants have access to a shared table facilitating the comparison among group members. This finding provides some useful recommendations for learning facilitators to improve productivity and creativity in the context of computer-supported collaborative learning over the Internet. It also invites to future innovative technological developments to improve participation in online groups.

مقدمه انگلیسی

The use of computers and communication systems as support for human cooperative work dates back to the early 1980s (e.g., Huber, 1980). From that date, new forms of computer technology – called Group Support Systems (GSS) – have increasingly developed. Such systems, often called groupware, are defined as computer-based network systems which support group work on a common task and provide a shared interface for participating groups (see Ellis, Gibbs, & Rein, 1991). DeSanctis and Gallupe (1987) defined GSS as combining “communication, computer, and decision technologies to support problem formulation and solution in group meetings” (p. 589). These systems were initially developed for commercial use, usually to support decision making processes in organization. They have been widely used for research on electronic brainstorming in groups in which participants generate ideas on computers (see Fjermestad & Hiltz, 1998, for a review). A large majority of studies examined electronic brainstorming in a synchronous room-based context, although the development of Internet has provided over the last years a web-based context without space nor time constraints for testing new forms of electronic brainstorming. The present study does not only extend electronic brainstorming research, shifting from synchronous room-based context to an asynchronous web-based one, but also provides a new test for the impact of social comparison process on productivity and creativity in on-line groups during an asynchronous electronic brainstorming. 1.1. Room-based studies With electronic GSS, group members communicate by exchanging typed messages, instead of verbally speaking in a meeting room (e.g., Nunamaker, Dennis, Valacich, Vogel, & Georges, 1991). Numerous laboratory and field studies have used GSS to facilitate different types of work and learning methods in different tasks such as communication, planning, voting, negotiation, decision-making, problem-solving, idea generation, and so on. These tasks can be accomplished by using specific instruments such as electronic brainstorming, idea organization, vote, and group writing. GSS's have been essentially used for electronic brainstorming in groups1 and have proven useful in improving group performance, particularly for creativity tasks such as idea generation (e.g., Gallupe, Bastianutti, & Cooper, 1991; Nunamaker, Applegate, & Konsyski, 1987; Pinsonneault, Barki, Gallupe, & Hoppen, 1999). This form of brainstorming consists in groups of various sizes simultaneously and anonymously generating ideas on a specific issue on individual computers located in a same electronic meeting room. Individual computers are connected to a central computer which collects the generated ideas and controls their display on a large screen at the front of the room (or on part of the screen). Participants share ideas through typing them on a network-linked computer (a computer console) which is running group brainstorming software (see GroupSystems, Nunamaker et al., 1991). Because participants have to gather at the same time in a same place, the room-based studies have been limited to small groups. Indeed, among 200 experiments listed by Fjermestad and Hiltz (1998) in their review about GSS, only 4% used groups with 10 members or more. Since then, researchers have tested new forms of electronic brainstorming for larger groups in a room-based context. For example, De Vreede, Briggs, van Duin, and Enserink (2000) separated very large groups into sub-groups which had to generate ideas in a serial mode. Once a sub-group had finished to produce ideas, the next began, and so forth until all the sub-groups had performed the task. Although this technique appeared to be more efficient than a technique in which sub-groups worked in a parallel mode, the sub-group members were involved in a synchronous electronic brainstorming task in a traditional room-based context. Because this technique did not eliminate the time and space constraints, and because there may be more group members than there are GSS workstations in the electronic meeting room, other forms of electronic brainstorming may be developed today over the Internet. 1.2. Web-based studies Although the original GSS's were room-based, with strong time and space constraints, the development of the Internet has enabled new forms of electronic brainstorming providing possibilities for individuals to work with others who are geographically remote. The main advantage of this form of electronic communication is that both temporal and spatial constraints are abolished (e.g., Arrow et al., 1996; Cummings, Schlosser, & Arrow, 1996; Gay & Lentini, 1995; Kiesler & Sproull, 1992). There is a new form of GSS derived from Internet such as web-based systems which incorporate various communication tools, synchronous and asynchronous, and can be used by individuals working together. However, when people work together, there is often a need not only to communicate with others but also to share information. That is the reason why shared workspaces are used in the today GSS for the storage of different kinds of information data such as documents, tables, pictures, URL links to web pages, member contact information, and so on. Although many GSS have evolved to the increasingly popular and ubiquitous Internet applications that enable participants to communicate with other group members over the web, the electronic brainstorming remains dramatically synchronous. However, the synchronous mode of communication of web-based GSS confronts people to serious agenda problem reducing the interest for these systems. Consequently, it is often very difficult to support very large groups in a single web-based GSS meeting although the use of room-based electronic brainstorming plays a key role in enhancing productivity in groups, particularly for larger groups (e.g., Valacich, Dennis, & Connolly, 1994). On the contrary to traditional GSS, asynchronous computer conferencing systems such as newsgroups provide many participants with an opportunity to work together without time nor space constraints. Although Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) has been used in GSS studies, researchers and practitioners have rarely used a traditional asynchronous computer conferencing, i.e. a newsgroup, to conduct an electronic brainstorming session in a web-based environment. One of the objectives of the present study is to use this mode of communication for electronic brainstorming. Apart from the technological environment in which electronic brainstorming can be used, some studies on electronic brainstorming have been guided by group processes which improve (or impair) performance, respectively for individuals – who firstly separately work (without communicating) and later on pool ideas (i.e. nominal groups) – and persons involved in verbal brainstorming (e.g., Gallupe et al., 1991; Valacich et al., 1994; Ziegler, Diehl, & Zijlstra, 2000). 1.3. Group processes in electronic brainstorming Several dozen group processes have been studied in controlled experiments on group computer-supported brainstorming such as production blocking2 (Diehl & Stroebe, 1991), evaluation apprehension (Brown & Paulus, 1996), social loafing (Karau & Williams, 1995), social comparison (Shepherd, Briggs, Reinig, Yen, & Nunamaker, 1996), and so on. It appeared that one of the most important advantages of electronic brainstorming is that it reduces or eliminates the harmful blocking effects which appear in verbal brainstorming (e.g., Diehl & Stroebe, 1987; Gallupe, Cooper, Grise, & Bastianutti, 1994; Valacich et al., 1994). Indeed, because nobody in the group has to wait for a turn to speak, production blocking is eliminated during a synchronous electronic brainstorming session (e.g., Gallupe et al., 1991; Paulus, Legett-Dugosh, Dzindolet, Coskun, & Putman, 2002). However, production blocking is not eliminated by the synchronous mode of communication per se, but rather by the possibility to generate ideas at any moment into a shared workspace, either synchronously or asynchronously. Another advantage of electronic brainstorming is to reduce evaluation apprehension (e.g., Connolly, Jessup, & Valacich, 1990). The anonymity of electronic brainstorming reduces the threat to be negatively evaluated by other participants. However, this advantage can also be detrimental to productivity in groups because anonymity also encourages participants to loaf. Social loafing is the process by which individuals tend to make less effort in group tasks than they do in individual tasks, unless their individual contributions can be identified (e.g., Diehl & Stroebe, 1987; Latané, Williams, & Harkins, 1979; Shepperd, 1993). Alternative to original electronic brainstorming which promotes anonymity of group members, an electronic brainstorming through a traditional newsgroup may provide an identification of the contributions of group members and, consequently, reduce social loafing. In addition, identification is likely to provide group members with an opportunity to compare to each other. Social comparison processes are known to be an important determinant for group behaviours and performance, even in electronic brainstorming. 1.4. Social comparison processes: Upward comparison and downward matching Since their origin, the social comparison processes have been known to be useful for self-evaluation and self-improvement. Indeed, Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954b theory of social comparison processes postulates that there is a “motivation to know that one's opinions are correct and to know precisely what one is and is not capable of doing” (p. 217). Although people prefer objective standards to evaluate themselves, these are hardly available. Under such circumstances, people compare to each other to assess their standing and they prefer “similar others” to “dissimilar ones”. Consequently, there is a trend to stop comparing oneself to others when they are very different. Regarding ability, Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954b postulates that there is a “unidirectional drive upward” in which people make ability comparisons, in particular with “similar others” who are marginally better than themselves. This upward comparison process is generally a good incentive for self-improvement (e.g., Helgeson & Mickelson, 1995; Wood, 1989). Indeed, viewing others performing slightly better than themselves may lead people to set higher personal standards which can motivate efforts to improve themselves, and by doing so, they improve themselves (e.g., Blanton, Buunk, Gibbons, & Kuyper, 1999; Huguet, Dumas, Monteil, & Genestoux, 2001; Seta, 1982; Vrugt & Koenis, 2002). For example, in an academic context, Blanton et al. (1999) found that the academic performance feedback of Dutch school children tended to improve if they compared their examination grades with high-performing students (see also Huguet et al., 2001 for studies among French school children). Similarly, Vrugt and Koenis (2002) recently showed that upward comparison produced higher personal goals which predicted the future scientific productivity of academic staff members. However, the presence of very productive members in a group could motivate increased performance in the other group members, but only if the downward matching process can be counteracted or minimized (Paulus et al., 2002). Downward matching is the process by which social comparison leads to lower standards for performance when generating ideas within groups. Indeed, over contributors tend to reduce their contributions to match the group's poor standards, whereas under contributors are challenged to reach the level established by others (Forsyth, 2000). This process tends to lower overall performance levels, also in groups working via computers (e.g., Paulus, Larey, Putman, Leggett, & Roland, 1996), but it can be reduced by increasing a comparison among group members (e.g., Brown & Paulus, 1996; Paulus & Dzindolet, 1993). Indeed, electronic brainstorming studies in room-based context have demonstrated that group members who could monitor others' ideas production in real time eliminated downward matching during an idea generation task (e.g., Paulus et al., 1996; Roy, Gauvin, & Limayen, 1996; Shepherd et al., 1996). Consequently, brainstorming groups are more productive when they are provided with a continuous public display of the ideas generated by anonymous group members projected at the front of the electronic meeting room. Similarly, in a study in which participants announced to the group how many ideas they generated every 5 min, Paulus et al. (1996) demonstrated that the shared performance feedback increased productivity, compared to the “no feedback” condition. Taken together, these results suggest that techniques which provide a real-time – or a delayed performance feedback – seem particularly useful to improve productivity because they create many opportunities for social comparison within the group. Thus, social comparison process is not only useful to evaluate oneself accurately by viewing the performance of group members, but also to improve one's productivity in group through comparison with (slightly) more productive participants (e.g., Monteil & Huguet, 1999). 1.5. Overview and hypothesis The present research aimed to test the influence of the social comparison process in a web-based electronic brainstorming context in which geographically remote participants asynchronously generate ideas in a newsgroup. Participants were randomly assigned in one of the two gender balanced groups. In one group, social comparison was possible through a feedback which informed participants of their own contributions and those of each member within the group by using a shared table regularly updated. In the second group, treated as a control condition, participants did not receive any feedback in a shared table although they had the possibility to identify contributions of group members in the newsgroup. Consistent with findings on room-based studies (Roy et al., 1996; Shepherd et al., 1996), it was assumed that participants who received a feedback of social comparison through a shared table should be more productive than those who did not receive any feedback. Although there is a lack of empirical evidence, it was also assumed that the same pattern should be observed on group creativity measured through the quality of ideas generated in electronic brainstorming.

نتیجه گیری انگلیسی

The present research aimed at transferring what happens in a synchronous room-based electronic brainstorming – as for the impact of social comparison process on performance – into a web-based context (asynchronous electronic brainstorming). Based on room-based studies (Roy et al., 1996; Shepherd et al., 1996) as well as on theoretical arguments about social comparison theory ( Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954b), we expected that participants who were to receive a feedback of social comparison through a shared table would be more productive than those who did not receive feedback. It was also assumed that the same pattern should be observed on creativity measured through the quality of ideas generated by participants during the asynchronous electronic brainstorming task. As assumed, results revealed that individuals with a basis for social comparison on a shared table for their on-line group outperformed individuals with no basis for social comparison. However, the difference between the feedback condition and the control condition was only observed in the number of non-redundant ideas generated and in the originality of ideas. No differences were observed neither in the number of newsgroup's logs or in the estimated time spent reading and writing ideas in the newsgroup. These results suggest that different patterns of productivity and creativity between the two conditions cannot be explained by the time participants spent in the newsgroup, nor by the number of sessions in which they participated. Thus, participants who had access to the shared table did not focus on information about time and number of newsgroup's logs, but rather on the number of ideas produced by other group members, which is the core of a brainstorming task. Eventually, additional analyses did not reveal a correlation between the number of ideas and the creativity scores. This lack of correlation suggests that creativity does not depend on the proportion of ideas generated in the newsgroup, but is rather to be considered as the result of an individual effort to find original ideas relatively to other group members. Taken together, these results suggested that social comparison process was as much at work in asynchronous web-based environments as in traditional synchronous room-based electronic brainstorming studies performed in laboratory settings (see Roy et al., 1996; Shepherd et al., 1996). When participants viewed the contributions of each group member in the shared table, they adjusted their performance level during the idea-generation task increasing the overall group performance. By contrast, although the contributions of group members were identifiable in the newsgroup of the control condition, participants did not use this information to improve their productivity and creativity. Consequently, providing a shared table of each member's contributions seems to be a fruitful strategy to improve performance in an asynchronous electronic brainstorming. In the present study there has also been a shift from the quantity to the quality of ideas. Indeed, quality was measured in the present study through the originality of ideas given by each group member providing a creativity index. Although the shared table did not mention this criterium during the electronic brainstorming, participants seemed to have increased their efforts to produce originality ideas. Social comparison process engaged participants in making a greater effort to do better than their co-workers in creativity when they were engaged in a comparison on the basis of productivity criteria. Maybe this result reflected a strategy of participants to differentiate from other group members on creativity while they could not do that on productivity. However, the lack of correlation between the two measures suggests that we should be precautious as for this interpretation. Indeed, in the case of a differentiation strategy, we should have observed a negative correlation, which is not the case here. The present study shows that traditional technologies such as newsgroups can be useful to improve the use of electronic brainstorming in an on-line learning context, provided participants have the opportunity to compare their contribution to that of other group members in a shared table regularly updated by a facilitator. According to Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954b social comparison theory, participants are likely to make comparisons with others who are slightly better than themselves (unidirectional drive upward). This process encourages participants to compare to group members performing slightly better than themselves through the shared table, which is likely to motivate their personal efforts to improve themselves. Although somewhat speculative, this proposition can be supported by an experiment about social comparison choices examining this process (Wheeler, 1966). This experiment demonstrated that when individuals had the possibility to view the scores of their group members, they were likely to compare to someone better to assimilate with her/himself (see Collins, 2000). In contrast, very few chose a downward comparison target by avoiding viewing the scores of someone performing worse. Thus, upward comparison is known to be motivated by self-evaluative and self-improvement needs (e.g., Seta, 1982; Wood, 1989) whereas downward comparison is likely to be motivated by self-protection and self-enhancement needs (e.g., Wills, 1981). More important, some studies suggested that viewing others performing slightly better than themselves may lead people to improve their performance (e.g., Blanton et al., 1999; Huguet et al., 2001; Seta, 1982; Vrugt & Koenis, 2002). However, because we did not know in the present study exactly what participants did with the data presented in the shared table, an alternative interpretation to Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954bunidirectional drive upward might be suggested. For example, participants might have made a mental calculation of the average contribution of group members and might have responded to that perceived average number rather than to that of the slightly better performers. However, such interpretation may not be valid. Indeed, Festinger, 1954a and Festinger, 1954b social comparison theory also assumed that a large difference between self and others would result in the cessation of social comparison. In our study, this process is probably at work, as the data about standard deviation seem to suggest that the standard deviation is higher in the experimental condition than in the control one (see Table 2). In other words, some people stopped comparing when the discrepancy between themselves and others became too large. A comment of one participant illustrates this process and the resulting discouragement (“…viewing the great number of ideas and the time spent by others has been a key to relief”, DB). Although empirical evidence is lacking about the direct influence of social comparison in productivity and creativity in on-line groups, theoretical arguments about social comparison process authorize some inferences about its potential role in an asynchronous electronic brainstorming task using a traditional computer conferencing system. Future research should examine more accurately the way participants used the shared table to engage either in upward or downward comparison, but also as for the motives supporting their comparisons (e.g., self-evaluation, self-improvement). Indeed, when they work together in a group, participants are generally uncertain about their relative expertise, knowledge, or contribution on a given task. This difficulty needs to be resolved because group's ability to recognize the expertise of its members is known to be vital to the group's success in face-to-face environments (e.g., Einhorn, Hogarth, & Klempner, 1977; Libby, Trotman, & Zimmer, 1987). Consequently, information on the relative expertise, knowledge, or contribution of each group member should be provided. Such information is likely to be very important in on-line groups in which participants are physically isolated from one another and only meet in a virtual shared space without information about their co-workers. In addition, to improve productivity and creativity in electronic brainstorming, we assume that the shared table given in the experimental condition may also reduce the uncertainty among group members by providing information about their performance. Thus, motives for self-evaluation as well as for self-improvement may be satisfied through the information contained in the shared table. An additional post-task questionnaire would be very useful to better investigate the motives underlying social comparison process during an asynchronous electronic brainstorming. Because post-experimental measures are lacking in the present study, it is difficult to know exactly what are the motives underlying the consultation of the shared table. In addition to the motives described above, participants may also be keen on competing with others, feeling guilt when they know that others are working harder than they are, feeling embarrassment or anxiety about what someone else might think of them, and so on. These issues suggest possibilities for fruitful future research about the motives underlying social comparison processes in on-line groups learning.

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