فراسوی طوفان مغزی : اثر ارتباطات بواسطه کامپیوتر برای وظایف همگرایی و مذاکره
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|942||2009||18 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Volume 10, Issue 4, December 2009, Pages 245–262
Although a considerable body of research in information systems has established that computer-mediated communication (CMC) is beneficial for brainstorming (idea generation) tasks, less is known about its effectiveness for more complex decision-making tasks. This paper reports the results of two experiments comparing the performance of face-to-face and CMC teams in decision-making tasks that move beyond brainstorming. In the first experiment, the performance of face-to-face and computer-mediated teams was compared in two tasks: one requiring participants to engage in convergent thinking and a second brainstorming task requiring divergent thinking. Consistent with predictions derived from McGrath's task circumplex model, the results of experiment one reveal that participants using computer-mediated communication perform significantly better than those interacting face-to-face on the divergent (brainstorming) task. On the convergent task, computer-mediated and face-to-face teams performed equally well; i.e., there was not a significant difference in their performance. In the second experiment, the performance of face-to-face and computer-mediated teams was again compared in two tasks: an integrative negotiation task and an idea-generation task. The results of the second experiment were similar to those of experiment one, in that computer-mediated teams significantly outperformed face-to-face teams in the idea-generation task, while computer-mediated and face-to-face teams performed equally well on the integrative negotiation task. These experiments contribute to the literature by shedding additional light on the conditions under which computer-mediated communication is as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, face-to-face interaction.
Increasingly, organizational team work is being facilitated by computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its variants—group support systems, decision support systems, negotiation support systems (NSS), and other electronic meeting systems. These systems enable teams of knowledge workers to collaborate outside the boundaries of time and distance to identify, discuss, and resolve problems. There has been much ongoing research on the subject of CMC and the conditions under which these systems improve decision-making performance relative to traditional face-to-face group work. Over the two decades, research in information systems has established that for brainstorming tasks groups using CMC can outperform groups meeting face-to-face along several qualitative and quantitative dimensions (Connolly et al., 1990, Gallupe et al., 1991, Gallupe et al., 1992, Valacich et al., 1993, Valacich et al., 1994 and Dennis et al., 1997/98). It should be noted that virtually all of the electronic brainstorming research follows Osborn's (1963) rules that encourage divergent thinking. In essence, participants are told “the wilder the idea, the better” based on the assumption that such divergent thinking fosters more creative ideas. It is also noteworthy that the tasks employed in the prior electronic brainstorming research tended to be generic tasks that did not require any specialized knowledge.2 Thus, while there is a considerable body of research on the efficacy of CMC for generic brainstorming tasks that involve divergent thinking, less is known about the utility of CMC for a range of organizational tasks involving convergent thinking, conflict resolution, or negotiation. Although some group tasks in business domains settings require divergent thinking, there are a host of organizational group decision-making settings where participants must engage in convergent thinking aimed at finding a consensus solution to a problem. A few studies have explored the effects of CMC on various aspects of decision-making behavior where task-specific knowledge is required. In the accounting and auditing domains a number of studies have generally found superior outcomes for computer-mediated teams relative to face-to-face teams ( Kerr and Murthy, 1994, Bamber et al., 1996, Karan et al., 1996, Arnold et al., 2000 and Murthy and Kerr, 2004). In the context of a new product development project continuation decision, Schmidt et al. (2001) found that computer-mediated teams made the most effective decisions relative to face-to-face teams or individuals working alone. Moving from problem-solving tasks to those involving conflict resolution and negotiation, even less is known about the effects of CMC. In such tasks, the interacting parties often have opposing goals requiring them to engage in conflict resolution. Negotiation support systems (NSS) are becoming more common with the widespread use of web-based systems in business (Foroughi, 1998 and Kersten and Noronha, 1999). The InterNeg Group offers web-based NSS for both training purposes and live negotiations (see http://interneg.carleton.ca). Relative to face-to-face negotiations, NSS represent a viable lower-cost alternative when negotiators are geographically separated. Moving beyond simply proving that NSS can work, however, there is a great need for research into how and under what circumstances negotiation processes can be enhanced by NSS support (Foroughi, 1998). Why might the effects of CMC differ for tasks that require more than just divergent thinking? Relative to face-to-face communication, CMC has certain process gains, most notably the ability for each team member to input his/her ideas immediately in parallel with other team members. This parallel communication feature has the potential to enhance performance on divergent-thinking tasks such as brainstorming. However, chat-based CMC also has several process losses relative to face-to-face interaction, such as lack of real-time feedback from others in the team, and the possible lack of sufficient attention paid to each team member's ideas as members become preoccupied entering their own comments. While these process losses are not likely to hinder teams performing divergent tasks, they are more likely to hinder teams performing convergent and negotiation tasks that benefit from immediate feedback and call for each team member's comments to be carefully attended to and considered by the other members. There are theoretical arguments in support of the notion that the communication needs of tasks involving convergent thinking and conflict resolution differ relative to simpler divergent-thinking tasks. McGrath (1984) proposes a “task circumplex” comprised of a series of tasks arranged in increasing order of the “information richness” requirements for successful task completion, where information richness is a communication medium's capacity to convey information (both verbal and non-verbal information) and improve understanding. At the lower end of the circumplex are tasks such as planning and idea generation that have minimal information richness requirements, whereas higher order tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making, and mixed-motive (conflict resolution/negotiation) tasks have high information richness requirements. The most common form of CMC is a “chat tool” (aka “instant messaging”) that allows the instantaneous exchange of text messages and a common message log accessible to all participants. However, such a tool lacks information richness, as non-verbal cues normally associated with a face-to-face meeting are absent. Thus, according to McGrath's task circumplex model, a CMC chat tool could result in superior performance in the context of brainstorming (divergent thinking) tasks, but it would be too lean of a medium to allow CMC teams to outperform face-to-face teams in convergent thinking and negotiation tasks. This paper reports the results of two experiments aimed at comparing the performance of CMC and face-to-face (FTF) teams in the context of tasks requiring convergent thinking and negotiation. For the purpose of comparison with prior studies and to provide a control group in each experiment, participants also performed a brainstorming task. In the first experiment, participants worked on two tasks, communicating either face-to-face or via a CMC chat tool. The first task in experiment one was akin to prior brainstorming tasks, requiring participants to make recommendations regarding how a company's operations could be improved. In the second task, participants were provided with a list of recommendations and were asked to indicate whether each recommendation would or would not improve the company's operations. Thus, the first task involved divergent thinking while the second task involved convergent thinking. The results of experiment one reveal that while participants using the CMC chat tool performed significantly better than those interacting face-to-face on the divergent task, there was no significant difference in performance between CMC and FTF teams on the convergent task. In the second experiment, a separate set of participants also worked on two tasks—one involving brainstorming and one involving negotiation. The CMC tool used in the brainstorming task resembled a chat-based system, while the computer-based negotiation tool was designed specifically for the purpose of the experiment. The results of the second experiment are consistent with those of experiment one. Computer-mediated groups again outperformed face-to-face groups in the brainstorming task while performing on par with face-to-face groups in a negotiation task. This study thus contributes to the literature by shedding additional light on the conditions under which CMC does, and does not, outperform face-to-face interaction. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. The next section provides background on prior research related to the current study and discusses McGrath's task circumplex model. The research hypotheses are then presented, stating the expected effects of face-to-face interaction and the use of a CMC for divergent, convergent, and negotiation tasks. For each of the two experiments, the research method is discussed, followed by the presentation of the experiment's results. The concluding section discusses the results of both experiments and their implications, summarizes the paper, and provides some directions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study extends the recent line of research on computer-mediated communication in the context of both problem-solving and negotiations. While the majority of prior research on the effectiveness of computer-mediated communication has focused on brainstorming tasks requiring divergent thinking, it is important to investigate whether computer-mediated communication is effective relative to face-to-face communication for tasks that move beyond brainstorming, i.e., tasks requiring convergent thinking and tasks involving conflict resolution and negotiation. Kerr and Murthy (2004) compared the performance of computer-mediated and face-to-face teams on a task requiring both divergent and convergent processes. Participants in the Kerr and Murthy (2004) study were required to generate a list of possible internal controls for a hypothetical company, which was then evaluated on the basis of quality. Divergent thinking was measured in terms of the number of unique ideas generated by CMC and face-to-face teams, while convergent thinking was measured in terms of the percentage of irrelevant ideas generated within each communication mode. In the first experiment reported in this paper, we extend the Kerr and Murthy (2004) work by using two distinct tasks—one involving divergent thinking and one requiring participants to engage in convergent thinking. As hypothesized, the results revealed that while CMC-mediated teams outperformed face-to-face teams on the divergent task, there was no significant difference in performance between face-to-face and computer-mediated teams on the convergent task. It is interesting to note that in the Kerr and Murthy (2004) study, where convergence was measured as the percentage of irrelevant ideas generated in each communication mode, teams interacting face-to-face outperformed teams interacting via CMC. In the present study, where convergence is defined in terms of categorizing possible solutions into groups (effective and ineffective), there was no significant difference between face-to-face teams and CMC teams. We acknowledge, however, that a potential reason for the lack of significant difference between face-to-face and CMC teams in performance on the convergence task is the lack of difficulty in the task, with both communication modes achieving a mean score around 80%. In the second experiment reported in this paper, we compared the performance of CMC and FTF teams in the context of an integrative negotiation task based on the Prisoner's Dilemma scenario. The task required cooperation among group members in order to obtain mutually beneficial outcomes for all individuals involved. Results reveal no statistically significant differences in the average total payoffs to NSS and face-to-face groups at the conclusion of negotiations. The findings of the current study have important implications for organizations contemplating the use of CMC technology to provide electronic support for the teamwork of their professionals. For tasks requiring teams to generate alternative solutions—that is, to engage in divergent thinking—the findings echo prior research suggesting that the use of CMC would lead to superior performance relative to meeting face-to-face. However, for tasks requiring convergent thinking, as the results of Experiment 1 revealed, the use of simple chat-type CMC cannot be expected to produce a performance enhancement over face-to-face interaction. As Sambamurthy and Chin (1994) suggest, for computer-mediated teams to outperform face-to-face teams in tasks requiring convergent thinking, perhaps it is necessary for the CMC tool to incorporate design features that foster consensus building. From an accounting information systems (AIS) perspective, the results of Experiment 1 suggest that CMC can be productively employed for accounting situations requiring idea generation, such as the fraud-brainstorming requirement of SAS No. 99. However, the task of filtering the list of fraud risks to identify the most critical risks is likely better performed in a face-to-face setting than in a computer-mediated session. The results of Experiment 2 revealed that NSS use did not produce superior negotiation outcomes relative to face-to-face negotiations. However, it is noteworthy that NSS was not significantly inferior to face-to-face negotiation. Thus, despite theoretical arguments both for and against the use of NSS for integrative bargaining tasks, such as the Prisoner's Dilemma task used in this study, the findings provide no basis for arguing against the use of NSS for such tasks. It is also important to keep in mind that CMC facilitates “anytime–anywhere” interaction, thereby lowering meeting costs. Thus, the finding that CMC was not inferior to face-to-face interaction for both the convergent task and the negotiation task is encouraging. While further research is required to substantiate the findings of the current study, organizations considering the use of web-based NSS can be optimistic that the outcomes will not be inferior to a face-to-face negotiation setting. Again, from an AIS perspective, these results suggest that NSS could be used for accounting tasks requiring negotiations, such as transfer-pricing negotiations, buyer/seller contract negotiations, or budget negotiations within an organization. With the exception of the Wolfe and Murthy (2005) study on the use of NSS for budget negotiations, very little research has explored the use of NSS in accounting contexts, suggesting an opportunity for future AIS work in this area. In addition to the limitations normally associated with experiments, the generalizability of this study is limited by the use of student participants. Although the use of teams of professional practitioners would have been desirable in this study, there is no reason to believe that professional accounting or auditing experience would have a differential effect on teams' performance across the tasks employed in the two experiments. Furthermore, empirical support for the use of graduate-level business students as surrogates for business professionals is provided by Remus, 1986 and Briggs et al., 1996. Nevertheless, caution should be used when generalizing these results to real-world settings and experienced practitioners. The negotiation task employed in the second experiment was a stylized mixed-motive task designed to foster cooperation to yield the highest payoff. The extent to which this task (the Prisoner's Dilemma scenario) can be extrapolated to real-world business negotiation situations is limited. There are several potential extensions to this study. Future research should examine whether the use of CMC tools, including various information-processing-support tools and agenda-structuring tools, enhance the performance of teams performing convergent-type tasks. In addition, given the hierarchical nature of audit teams, future research should examine whether the findings of prior studies, which have primarily been based on teams of peers, hold in the context of hierarchical teams. Regarding negotiation tasks, future research could examine whether there is an interactive effect between the extent of subjects' negotiation experience and the impact of NSS on negotiation outcomes. Finally, future research could also explore whether the use of NSS significantly alters the dynamics of the negotiation process between negotiators with varying levels of negotiation experience, cultural background, age, and gender.