A Defense Health Agency’s Group Support Systems

Subject: Business Communication
Pages: 83
Words: 25203
Reading time:
105 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

Organizations have numerous activities that run concurrently, and the synchronization of these activities is necessary to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, organizational communication being one of the greatest pillars of success (Crowe et al., 2011). Khare (2011) noted that the productivity of a firm largely depends on the degree of responsiveness within the company structure and specifically its leadership approach. Different decision-making stakeholders want to ensure a higher degree of accuracy on the solutions provided, which is possible through enhancing cohesiveness within the organization (Eweje, Turner, & Müller, 2012).

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Changes in the principles of efficient organizational communication have been drastic (Gresty, 2013). Recent developments in addressing team ineffectiveness involve using technology to meet the growing needs and responsibilities of organizational members (Lee & Wellman, 2012). The group support system (GSS), which enhance the effectiveness of group meetings by offering electronic communication support, is bound to reinvent modern business communication system.

A GSS is a set of approaches, technology, and software whose primary function lies in using techniques that focus on improving communication and decision making during group meetings (Crowe et al., 2011). Technologists believe that introducing GSS in organizations and especially within group meeting settings can contribute significantly to value management and lead to a new powerful network that can shape ethical and moral values among individuals operating in an organization group (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). However, the lack of information on the synapse between GSS approaches and organizational efficiency in terms of value creation, requires an examination thereof.

The development of computer-based group support can provide new opportunities for organizational development and team building (Hayward, 2010), for the emphasis on strategic issues will help enhance the sustainable development of an organization. Such knowledge creates further assistance in improving a GSS to ensure efficient measures (DeSanctis, Poole, & Zigurs, 2008).

The lack of efficiency in getting essential messages across among the members of teams, which can be observed during their meetings, affects not only the success of specific projects, but also the plausibility of the team’s existence. Failing to create new ways of exploring a specific issue and analyze it as a group, the team is unlikely to succeed in distributing the roles and responsibilities among the members. As a result, the creation of an organized team and, thus, the development of a proper group support system, which will enhance the process of communication among the members, are essential.

It is important to use a consistent operational network within an organization (Kadushin, 2012), which improves the overall structure of an organization and establishes fixed norms, values, and standards of behavior (Vega-Redondo, 2013). There is potential for new methods of interaction, the Internet, emerging technologies, and social media-based group work (Hua & Wellman, 2010). These, alongside the exploding growth experienced in communication, lead to new and innovative ways of collaborating (Yao, Wang, Xing, & Lu, 2010). Chapter 1 contains the problem, purpose, and method of the proposed qualitative research study. The aim is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool.

Background of the Study

The demand for transforming organizations around the world is unrelenting, and U.S. companies are seeking breakthrough using modern technologies. Group support systems create benefits for some organizations because they introduce significant improvements at different levels of management (Hoffman, Bynum, & Piccolo, 2011). Globalized settings have new decision-making models to adjust to virtual environments (Turban, Sharda, & Delen, 2011), yet the lack of consistency and cohesion in new approaches, particularly, the planning ones, may jeopardize organizations’ success (Bakker, Albrecht, & Leiter, 2011). Seeing that cooperation among the members of the organization, as well as the efficient and timely transfer of essential information are imperative for carrying out the communication process properly, the significance of GSS for organizations in general and the teams within the latter in particular is crucial to the further development of business communication.

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The integration of technology-supported systems into a collaboration model of an organization can facilitate the prediction of performance and productivity outcomes (Eschenbrenner, Nah, & Siau, 2008). Collaborative use of technology closely relates to the theory of acceptance and closure theory, which identifies the degree of the interaction between social environment and technology (Brown, Dennis, & Venkatesh, 2010). According to the notions of social enclosure, “the value of credentials has nothing to do with the productive capacities that have been incorporated, or the trainability indicated by such credentials” (Werfhorst, 2011, p. 524) but is the means through which individuals adjust toward social inclusion and exclusion.

The manner in which humans adjust to technological changes and use the changes positively matters in the professional development of individuals and the growth of companies (Werfhorst, 2011). The development of technologically advanced settings can allow organizational leaders to sustain a competitive advantage over other organizational leaders less concerned with innovation and change (Owens, Mitchell, & Khazanchi, 2011). The role of GSS in the creation of organizational ethics and values is also quite dubious (Estrada, 2011).

A webinar is a workshop form of communication transmitted through websites using videoconferencing software with an ability to produce, receive, and relay some discussed information (McFarlane, 2013).

Defense Connect Online is a communications platform powered by the Adobe Connect online information and communication platform that provides the U.S. Department of Defense extensive power to communicate. Defense Connect Online supports direct Web conferencing, active chat services, and virtual meetings regardless of the geographical positioning of individuals. The platform allows users from multiple locations to collaborate and interact through virtual networks and allows dispersed member groups to interact and participate in meetings.

Another important GSS communication platform is the Video Teleconferencing-Sysco Tandberg (McFarlane, 2013). The Video Teleconferencing-Sysco Tandberg is communication software that relays content-rich information from one person to another mainly through videoconferencing solutions, therefore, making it possible to record data acquired in the course of meetings. According to Cisco (2011), the system is a powerful information and communication platform that provides exclusive international videoconferencing solutions and tele-presence solutions in single-source solutions and through collaborative systems. The communication tool can support small office rooms to large conference rooms with multiple users.

The GSS communication platforms are particularly important for the aspects such as leadership, team building, effective communication, generating new ideas, informed decision making, employee engagement, and organizational learning (Huang, Kahai, & Jestice, 2010). Most managers spend a considerable amount of time on meetings rather than the actual tasks and goals to achieve (Crowe et al., 2011). The ratio between real-time development and the discussion process is out of proportions in most organizations nowadays, which means that the significance of action must be emphasized (Bessiere, Ellis, & Kellogg, 2009).

Herein the significance of testing the GSS effects on the members of an organizational team lies; since the latter often experience issues with the retrieval, distribution and processing of information, which, in its turn, affects the process of assigning them with specific roles and responsibilities, an enhanced strategy for communicating efficiently needs to be introduced into the realm of team communication.

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The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is a U.S. corporation concerned with managing military health care. As part of their reform agendas, leaders of the Military Health System have been increasingly advocating for the integration and use of GSS communication platforms as tools to enhance effective decision making in group meetings. The DHA serves in a heavily structured system where communication is necessary in decision making.

In the course of the study, interviews have been administered to several members of the DHHQ agency. As the interview results displayed in the sample in Appendix E display, the introduction of both personal interviews and the GSS technique affects the process of conflict solution and decision-making in the course of a meeting among the team members in a very positive manner. Not only does the specified approach eliminate the bias that may possibly emerge in the course of communication among the team members, but also allows approaching the conflict under analysis in a constructive manner by identifying the reasonable compromise to make. Prior to carrying out the study, though, one must draw the line between DHA and DHHQ. While DHA is used to refer to the health agency in general, the DHHQ is utilized to refer to the Defense Health Agency Headquarters. The interviews can be viewed as the second data source, whereas the literature review can be viewed as the third data source.

The broad information system framework of the DHA has been integral in supporting managers and professionals within the Military Health System in making sure that new solutions to health care problems are easily formable. The DHA has a Working Information Systems to Determine Optimal Management (WISDOM) training program for promoting the use of GSS communication platforms such as Defense Connect Online that helps formulate operational solutions, corporate strategies, and management decisions. For approximately 5 years, the DHA has been using the Defense Connect Online GSS platform.

Problem Statement

Communication allows knowledge sharing in modern organizations, where critical decisions seem to require combined efforts. Most meetings held by organized teams in the DHA setting are not efficient in terms of time and task orientation due to the poor use of the opportunities for efficient interpersonal communication. The premise of traditional meetings, conferences, and projects was face-to-face communication and constant interaction between group members and the presence of all participants facilitates the generation of ideas and develops a powerful framework for further discussion (Andres, 2002). The introduction of technology expands the opportunities for alternative measures in exchanging ideas in case face-to-face meetings are impossible (Richey, Adams, & Dalela, 2012); herein the importance of the study lies. Therefore, the general problem is that the communication processes between the members of modern organizations are often hampered and, thus, lead to the inefficiency of the decisions made in the course of communication. In order to attain the specified goals, one will have to employ a combination of a qualitative and a quantitative research.

The population chosen for the study includes HR managers and the DHHQ staff. The key variables, therefore, include the efficacy of the communication process (i.e., the completion of the organizational goals), which is the key dependent variable, and the independent ones, the use of GSS being the key one. The variables will be measured based on the results of the staff performance assessment.

The specific problem is that most meetings held by organized teams in the US business setting lack efficiency in terms of time and task orientation due to the poor use of the opportunities, which the GSS communication tools provide. Within the context of human resource management, meetings tend to take place more regularly, which consumes time and money (Richey et al., 2012). Disagreements, conflicts of interest, divided attention, and squabbles often protract during physical or face-to-face meetings, consequently leading to losing time and cohesion among members. Ineffective teamwork and communication in such cases lead to further wasting the company’s time and effort. DeSanctis et al. (2008) noted GSS might not maximize the IT domain of modern innovation organizations such as the DHA.

Literature on modern information systems has shown that, despite common knowledge regarding the efficacy of modern information systems in communication, especially the GSS communication tools, there is an obvious lack of information about its accrual efficiency significance. Hence, the proposed study will involve exploring the wide possibilities of the Defense Connect Online GSS platform, particularly, its optimizing efficiency in organizational meetings, as well as the constraints in its implementation. The study will also involve investigating GSS’s advantages and disadvantages at various directorate levels of the Defense Health Headquarters (DHHQ) in Falls Church, Virginia.

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Purpose of the Study

An analysis of the communication processes within the context of contemporary organizations has shown that the current approaches lack consistency due to the rapid transfer into the global market. Consequently, the necessity to realign the present-day strategies so that they could comply with the new demands and address new issues is required. A closer look at the goals of modern organizations in the global market displays in a very graphic way that the principles of shared communication must be promoted among the company staff along with the idea of using modern media and information technology. Particularly, the integration of GSS communication, which prevents major misunderstandings from occurring in the process of information transfer in Defense Connect Online, should take the center stage of the present-day organization changes discussion. The impact, which the GSS has on the specified organization in general and the performance of the company on a range of levels in DHHQ, Fall Church, Virginia, must be viewed as the focus of the research. Particularly, the following issues should be interpreted as the basic research purposes:

Analysis of the difference in the performance of the group that utilizes a GSS approach and the one that resorts to a different information management and transfer method:

  1. The assessment of the GSS approach will lead to the discovery of its effects in reduction of the negative aftermath of the staff meetings and the further enhancement of the employees’ performance, therefore, reducing the number of possible conflicts to zero;
  2. The integration of the GSS into the operations of the DHHQ organization will help enhance the performance of the DHHQ staff by facilitating a smoother and less contrived information transfer.

Significance of the Study

The significance of the study lies in the reevaluation of approaches to holding a meeting, including devices and media platforms for information transmission, the structure of group projects, and the sequence of settled tasks. Group support systems usually develop improved cohesiveness within the organizational group. They also help to create ideas and agendas that are consistent with normal organizational traditions through the decision-making process. Creating an understanding of the efficiency associated with the use of GSS communication systems such as the Defense Connect Online GSS platform that the study results will help create and understanding of the organization’s internal processes, which, in its turn, will enable managers to make informed decisions regarding the need to adopt and implement these information systems.

Apart from concentrating on the accrued significance of integrating the Defense Connect Online GSS platform as an efficient communication tool, there is a need to understand the implication of these information systems. Accessibility of GSS might minimize employees’ engagement and willingness to participate in online meetings because virtual collaboration can lead to a significant reduction in awareness of the importance of the event (Bose, 2003). The success of virtual collaboration depends on employees’ self-control and adherence to ethical principles. It is purposeful to define the major challenges of technology integration, as well as outline how to redevelop leadership, employees’ engagement, team building, and organizational learning to meet the requirements of the GSS settings.

As noted by Webne-Behrman (2008), the term group process refers to the procedures implemented by members of an organization, who work closely, to come up with viable solutions to common organizational problems. Kim (2006) noted that group processes enable leaders to develop interventional measures that they can apply to change the less desirable attributes showcased by different members of an organization. Organization theory views it leadership as the process of directing a group of people, who work together to accomplish set goals and objectives (Cusella, 2009). According to this description, groups play a pivotal role in gearing any organization toward success. Research will set out to further the management processes by promoting a deeper understanding of this theory and the applicability of GSS in an organizational setting.

The concept of GSS is relatively new. Group support systems are a promising vehicle for managing teams more effectively (Wilson, Thomas, & Jessup, 2010). Studying GSS as a way to aid group decision making in organizations is important to organizational researchers for practical and scientific reasons (DeSanctis & Gallupe, 1987; Huber et al., 1993; Wilson et al., 2010). Elfvengreen (2008) noted GSS provide an avenue through which to hold meetings without necessarily wasting valuable time and employees’ productivity. A gap exists between the significance of GSS and their applicability in resolving productivity issues that stem from ineffective meetings (Kilgour, 2010).

Much of the published GSS research does not contain the configuration specifics of GSS, such as the exact instructions given to the group; the guidelines, constraints, and rules they worked by; and the step-by-step mechanics of how they proceeded with the work (Briggs, Vreede, & Nunamaker, 2003; DeSanctis et al., 2008; Santanen, 2005). There is a significant amount of documented literature exists regarding teamwork and group dynamics, yet little information on the effects of GSS in improving meetings and group efficiency. The proposed study will involve exploring GSS and group dynamics first. The next step will presuppose the analysis of the structure of the GSS and discussing its framework in an organizational context. The study will also include exploring a GSS’s usefulness and the significance of a GSS to an organization by emphasizing its advantages and limitations.

The main focus of this study will be on the role of leaders facilitating meetings and group activities through the integration of GSS in an organizational context. Specifically, the areas, where this research might help leaders in organizational settings to understand:

  1. the objective of GSS,
  2. how to design meetings to support organizational strategic objectives,
  3. how to increase meetings’ effectiveness through GSS,
  4. the dynamics of comprehensive GSS and how they promote teamwork, commitment, and motivation among employees, will be studied.

Understanding GSS-based communication might serve as a means to improve strategies within business organizations for growth and development. Since GSS trends show growth (Boughzala, de Vreede, & Limayem, 2012), it is necessary to understand how to apply this tool effectively. The results of the proposed research could be an indicator of GSS efficacy in business organizations. The responses to the research questions could also serve as a means of understanding the efficiency of GSS in organizations.

Nature of the Study

The nature of this study is qualitative; therefore, the study will include a qualitative research approach;. qQualitative research is mainly exploratory in nature. Researchers conduct qualitative research studies to generate data that produce rich, comprehensive illustrations concerning why individuals behave in a specific manner and the way, in which these individuals feel about their behaviors and their environment (Dean, 2013). Seeing that the focus of this study will be understanding the performance of individuals in relation to their exposure to GSS-based communication tools, it will be important to investigate the individual perceptions and acceptance of the GSS as a tool for communication. Qualitative data might help the researcher gain a better understanding of the individuals’ acceptance of this system of communication. Although a quantitative research approach might also provide analyzable results, it will be difficult to use quantitative research methods to gain a detailed picture of the individuals’ perspectives.

The researcher will confine the research to a qualitative case study approach, where findings of the entire study will reflect the perceptions and perspectives of various scholars and also those of managers and workers of DHA on the use of GSS communication tools. Case studies are the forms of qualitative research, in which researchers investigate a research problem while concentrating on a particular situation, phenomenon, or person. Case studies as research methods are normally useful when researchers investigate a research phenomenon with a large variety of inherent inquiry factors and relationships, or when no basic laws are present to determine important factors for the research to include. Furthermore, case studies can be either qualitative or quantitative (Yin, 2009). A case study reference is made when the specified case study seems to bear a connection with the research question. An appropriate review of a case study means the use of literature that is deemed trustworthy and has been published recently (Hamel, 1993).

The GSS communication tool under investigation is Defense Connect Online, which does not have predetermined factors and relationships of performance that need specific consideration in research or require an analysis type other than the qualitative one (Yao et al., 2010). A GSS is a versatile tool that organizational leaders can modify and use in undertaking various measures that require effective communication among organizational members. Case studies are usually specific and have often been important in research, as scholars, who use them are capable of systematically developing comprehensive study models deemed important in describing the patterns of behavior of a research subject. The proposed research will, therefore, be a qualitative case study of the DHA concerning the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool.

The case study approach will involve using the social constructivist paradigm that forms the basis for forming data collection instruments, collecting data, analyzing and interpreting it. Social constructivist paradigms involve investigating the formation of jointly constructed meanings concerning an environment, a research phenomenon, a person, or a research subject. The qualitative case study approach will be useful seeing that it presupposes an analysis of social interactions, whereas an assumption of the social constructivism theory is that humans normally rationalize their worldly experiences by developing a social world model and exploring the way things behave within the social construct.

An exploratory case study approach focusing on the DHA, formerly known as Tricare Management Activity, with headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, will involve obtaining qualitative and analyzable data. The DHA is a federal defense agency serving the medical needs of commissioned and noncommissioned U.S. military personnel on active duty and reservists, as well as for retired professionals in the United States and worldwide. This organization will be suitable for the exploratory study due to the researcher’s proximity and the inclusion of GSS in the communication model used by the organization’s staff.

The GSS platform selected in this case study is the group decision room (GDR). This platform creates an environment for meeting with electronic support to enable the constituent groups or individuals to come up with solutions in a collaborative manner. The research will include questionnaires as a source of collecting primary information from the participants. Open-ended and semi-structured questionnaires are appropriate in the collection of qualitative data among participants because semi-structured questionnaires are not restrictive by definition. Primary information will come from the leaders and employees of the organization. Their respective views regarding the importance of GSS in their interactions with colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors will serve as the basic qualitative data for the analysis. The study will involve exploring GSS as well as group dynamics within an organizational context. The importance and usefulness of the GSS to the organization will be a point of focus of the study, in the course of which the limitations and the strengths of the system are going to be explored. The basis for examining the generated qualitative data will be content analysis of the participants’ responses to the different open-ended questions included in the research study. The researcher will then draw conclusions based on the outcome of the qualitative data analysis.

To summarize, the research design is a qualitative case study approach that will involve open-ended questionnaires in data collection and content data analysis as the approach of analyzing the collected qualitative data. The data will be retrieved from the responses of leaders and employees of DHHQ to an open-ended questionnaire, which is the data collection instrument that is used traditionally in the qualitative data acquisition process. According to Dean (2013), the qualitative method of data collection does not restrict participants’ answers to definite parameters or variables. The freedom that qualitative data bestow is important in analyzing the subtle aspects of a given phenomenon, such as the significance of GSS in organizations. The questionnaire will probe the participants’ perceptions of Defense Connect Online as a common GSS-based communication platform applied in their organization. The outcome of the questionnaire analysis will inform the researcher’s conclusion of how organizational leaders use GSS to improve communication. In addition to the questionnaires, the next data source would be individual interviews. Finally, secondary data analysis to be carried out will include literary works (pertaining to GSS and specific to DHA) of renowned scholars.

Research Questions

  1. Does the incorporation of the GSS information management tools allow for a better information transfer process among the members of the DHHQ organization and prevent possible misunderstandings from occurring, and, if it does, in what way?
  2. May the implementation of the GSS strategy into the operations of the DHHQ contribute to the reduction in the average number of conflicts occurring between the staff and the managers, as well as among the employees, in the course of meetings and problems discussion?
  3. How can the GSS approach be used as a weapon for addressing the negative effects of the meetings and enhancing the productivity of the staff by motivating the latter for personal and professional responsibility and proper use of information?
  4. How making the goals of the GSS implementation into the DHHQ operations and, therefore, its further promotion among the staff may be turned into an opportunity for the boosting organizational performance by raising awareness regarding information management among the staff?

Research Design

The exploratory case study will include individual interviews when collecting data from the organization’s leaders and uestionnaires when collecting data from the employees. The exploratory approach allows researchers to analyze various themes and define their patterns in relation to the subject and hypotheses under study (Maxwell, 2012). As it has been mentioned above, the study will take the form of a qualitative case study, where the changes in the DHA will be the focus of the research. Dean (2013) contended the qualitative study approach of a case study to be a delicate research design that requires accurate definitions of variables and parameters to avert the occurrence of biases. The proposed study will involve collecting qualitative data and conducting thematic analysis with the help of the advanced software, NVivo.

Individual interviews

The individual interviews with the leaders (directors, supervisors, etc.) will concern their use of GSS to arrive at organizational decisions. Individual interviews allow the participants to come up with innovative ideas that can be incorporated within the organization. Focus groups are more effective in cases where there is a cross-cultural environment. People, who otherwise get very little opportunity to talk, can express their views freely during individual interviews. One of the best benefits of focus group is that as and when there arises any issue, employees’ perspective can be known. On the other hand, face-to-face group discussions where participants voiced individual opinions and arrived at a collective conclusion are often inaccurate when compared to the opinions of individuals when averaged without discussion. Dominant individuals can control the conversation in face-to-face proceedings, and in that way the outcomes. The one who speaks out often will often prevail over the group, even though that individual may not be the most knowledgeable. The individual interviews will encompass the following questions:

  1. What is the effect of individual interviews on the staff’s performance and overall output?
  2. How is a decision reached during an individual interview?
  3. How do GSS meetings overcome the spatial and temporal dimensions?
  4. How do GSS meetings contribute to group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?

Questionnaires

The employees will receive questionnaires via e-mail that will contain questions on their views and insights of GSS use. The questionnaires will incorporate the following questions:

  1. What skills and abilities should employees of DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia possess in order to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by the GSS environment?
  2. What are the main challenges for employees of DHHQ in adjusting to a computer-based environment?
  3. How can dimensions such as leadership, employee engagement, organizational learning, and team building benefit from the introduction of GSS at DHHQ?

Literature that covers all elements related to GSS serves as the third data source required for the case study.

Conceptual Framework

According to organizational theory, a company is a group of individuals connected by specific objectives, missions, and goals (Cusella, 2009). Researchers can also apply this theory to understand the aspects of efficient decision-making and problem-solving processes (Xia & Xu, 2011). The framework also relates to the execution of the organization’s tasks, thereby improving the satisfaction of all stakeholders and enhancing productivity. This framework is the study of the organizational processes (Cusella, 2009), which is an important juncture because it provides the point, at which the GDR platform representing GSS factors in. The reason for GDR to be an important and related tool is that it brings an organization’s processes and productive tools together, as outlined by Cusella (2009). Generally, this form of GSS supports the diverse steps involved in solving problems and making decisions, which include brainstorming ideas, structuring ideas, creating consensus, and structuring ideas (Rasheed, 2012). In the specific context of meetings, GSS supports building strategies, managing crises, planning, assessing risks, and evaluating projects. When the aforementioned elements are combined, the complexity of addressing the limitations experienced at the meeting is likely to be less.

To enhance the understanding of how technology can promote organizational welfare, one must bring a special attention to the unified theory of acceptance (Brown et al., 2010). According to the theory in question, management confines the role of GSS to the integration of technology acceptance and group collaboration. As soon as individuals adjust to a new environment, they will be able to understand what steps might help to transfer from a traditional communication model to that one in a virtually based environment. Readiness to change and accept novelties, therefore, is a priority. Appropriate tools and training programs are important for enhancing employees’ motivation (Pittinsky, 2009).

Acceptance theories are pertinent to consider for understanding of the stages that employees should undergo to make a successful transition from traditional to a modern way of communication and collaboration. Along with organizational theories, the acceptance theory can allow managers to understand how to fill technological gaps, as well as what potential benefits they can receive from this adoption. The theory of organization, in its turn, defines an organization as a group of people working together in a bid to accomplish certain set objectives and goals (Cusella, 2009). At the same time, one must bear in mind that the personal goals of the employees are the key motivation force to spur their accomplishments according to the Cognitive Evaluation Theory (Matosic, Cox & Amorose, 2014) and Equity Theory (Cappellen, Eichele, Hugdahl, Specht, Sørensen & Tungodden, 2014). With this description in mind, one may possibly argue that individual interviews are vital for an organization’s success. The proposed research might be instrumental in understanding the organizational theory and the applicability of GSS within an organizational setting.

Different scholars have repeatedly researched the implementation of GSS for decision making. The results of this research might contribute to the theoretical field, especially with regard to the inclusion of technology for group decision making. The focus of this study will be on identifying how GSS assist workers and leaders to make decisions based on the perspective of an entire group. The workers and leaders make decisions quickly by consulting numerous research materials. The literature review contains an overview of historical literature based on GSS in relation to the theoretical framework of communication-based decision making.

Definitions

Group support systems (GSS): Group support systems are the support group processes that include brainstorming, voting, and group writing (Yao et al., 2010). Group support systems are information systems that serve to make group meetings more productive and enhance the communication, deliberations, and decision making of groups through electronic support for a variety of meeting activities (Vreede & Muller, 1997). Group support systems such as group decision support systems (GDSS) have significant benefits because they reduce losses. In addition, being interactive tools of IT, they shore up the concerted efforts that are central in the completion of joint tasks (Dennis, George, Jessup, Nunamaker, & Vogel, 1998). Owing to technological evolution, GDSS became GSS during the early 1990s. The evolution happened because collaborative computing expanded beyond the sphere of decision making (Patrick & Garrick, 2012). Through GSS, individuals are able to create innovative concepts, understand and categorize them, as well as assess them with the help of diverse voting methods. Groups can apply GSS to engage in project assessments, methodological planning, development and evaluation of work flows, group development, and crisis management.

Group decision room (GDR): The GDR consists of support processes and tools that create a virtual meeting room. The idea of the GDR is to bring together the thinking processes of all involved members at the meeting, thus, creating a participative approach aimed at solving complex tasks. This platform works by interplaying between software and hardware in which every participant at a meeting owns a workstation. The main feature of GDR is anonymity, which means that all the participants at the meeting can contribute anonymously. Again, there is a parallel systems of work in which GDR offers contributions in clusters, which means the system can store or collect information under different or similar packages. Finally, the parallel system captures the minutes automatically (Power, 2014).

Assumptions

It is expected that the research results will point at the significance of the GSS approach application. There is no secret that information management is one of the essential elements in the organization’s functioning. Hence, the GSS approach will supposedly help redesign the company’s information management approach, which, in its turn, is bound to lead to a major boost in the data sharing process and, therefore, the overall performance of the company.

More to the point, the fact that the GSS strategy may help address the conflict issue that occurs after regular meetings is doubtless. At present, a major tension can be observed within the environment in question due to the lack of knowledge of what proper leadership should be and what emotional responses it must trigger in the staff. Herein the necessity to teach the staff handle their negative impressions left after the meeting lies. It is expected that the GSS approach will allow the staff to give vent to their feelings, therefore, limiting the amount of possible conflicts to zero and enhancing positive attitudes among the staff members, therefore, galvanizing them for delivering more fruitful results.

As it has been stressed above, the company is obviously facing a range of leadership issues, which the lack of staff’s motivation is a clear signal of. Hence, the significance of GSS as the tool for improving the leadership strategy rises along with the expectations that the adoption of GSS in the DHHQ organization will allow for designing a better leadership approach. It is also expected that the GSS method as a tool will point at the necessity to incorporate the transformative leadership style and the laissez-faire one. As a result, the rise of personal and professional responsibility along with the increase in the performance of the staff members is presumably going to occur.

It should be noted, though, that the study outcomes may not align with the expected outcomes Particularly, the influence of the outside factors, as well a the possibility of the null hypothesis proving true should be mentioned.

Scope of the Study

The proposed study will involve exploring the consequences of integrating GSS as a Defense Connect Online tool in various directorate levels of the DHA in Falls Church, Virginia. The study might also provide a better understanding of how a new collaboration setting defined in GDRs can contribute to the productivity and performance of an organizational team. The study will involve evaluating whether the application of GSS can compensate for the challenges of virtual communication. The study will also involve the reassessment of the related concepts such as leadership, organizational learning, and employee engagement to suit new dimensions of success for motivating and increasing job satisfaction among the employees.

The population of the study will include 20 employees of the DHA, formerly known as Tricare Management Activity, with headquarters located in Falls Church, Virginia. The DHA serves more than 9 million active and retired military persons and their family members across the United States and abroad (Evaluation of the Tricare Program, 2012, p. 14). The agency’s office at DHHQ, Falls Church, Virginia, has over 3,000 employees, including active-duty military members, civilians, and contractors. Based on the target population for the current study, a purposive sampling is appropriate, which will involve identifying and selecting qualified participants, who meet certain criteria for the study (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). In order to shortlist the participants, Seidman’s first phase of the three phase qualitative interview was considered. According to this particular phase, interviewees are asked to divulge as much detail as possible about the participants’ past education, experience, training, etc. The interviewees are also asked whether they have any previous experience about the kind of job that they are supposed to do (Fox, 1996). The study will include the confirmed identities of study participants employed in the DHA as a military member, civilian, or contractor.

Upon receipt of the Institutional Research Board’s approval from University of Phoenix, the selected participants will need to meet the following criteria: (a) being over the age of 18, (b) working at DHHQ as a leader or worker, and (c) active participation experience in GSS at the agency. Participants that can articulate ideas should be able to offer a range of opinions on the issues (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Upon receiving approval, the researcher will schedule the individual interviews at a time that the participants will consider the most convenient and will e-mail the questionnaire to the human resource department for dissemination to the employees. Sampling strategies in qualitative research are numerous (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Polkinghorne (2005) noted a sample size of one to 20 participants for qualitative research is appropriate. For this study, the sample size will consist of 20 employees at the DHA. Sample participants will represent various disciplines.

Limitations

There is a possibility of an association between group challenges and leadership approaches, which might influence the outcome of GSS meetings. Leaders will always want that the outcome of such meetings should be in their favor. As such, they might adopt various measures to influence the participants. Considering the diverse nature of employees, it becomes imperative for leaders to adopt separate persuading techniques for employees from different parts of the world.

Collecting primary qualitative data from respondents representing government organizations presupposes dealing with a limitation because the specified process is normally a challenge given the amount of the bureaucracy in most of state structures. It is often a major issue for researchers to receive accurate response given the prevailing fear of revealing important data concerning the performance of the government organization. Leaders manipulating subordinates to offer positive responses to questions in studies might invalidate the data or make the data offered by the respondents unreliable. It should be born in mind, therefore, that specific strategies, which will allow for mitigating the effects of leaders’ influence on their staff, will need to be adopted. Thus, the credibility of the study will be retained.

In addition to the limitations specified above, the generalizability of the study deserves to be mentioned. Seeing that the scope of the research is limited, it cannot possibly embrace every single workplace scenario and, thus, needs to be generalized substantially.

As the integration of technological systems is a relatively new phenomenon, an estimation of its successful adaptation to the present environment can be ambiguous. The study of only one organization does not provide a full picture of all challenges. The researcher will delimit the information gathered from the respondents of the individual interviews and the questionnaires to their views, meaning that participants might favorably present the views of their own unit or their personal convictions about the GSS. Individual respondents normally produce self-reported data that are often difficult to verify independently, and the researcher will not generalize the conclusion that may be applicable to the entire population of organizations that adopted GSS.

Qualitative data include primary data self-reported from respondents. Maxwell (2012) noted that a personal bias has a significant influence on the collection of self-reported data, and thus, researchers should take appropriate precautions. Though technology may be used as a scaffolding tool for maintaining order within an organization in cases of personal issues, such problems as selective memory issues are to be incorporated into the study as one of the key factors affecting the expected outcomes. Selective memory bias results from the inability of respondents to remember past experiences exactly. Telescoping memory problems occur when respondents confuse events that occurred at different points of time in the past. Exaggeration problems occur when participants overstate the significance of certain events.

The sampling process is subjective to researchers, and sampling biases are an obvious limitation because they may reduce the validity of the findings. Purposive sampling is prone to selection bias because researchers determine the exclusion and inclusion criteria, which is subjective (Suri, 2011). In this view, extrapolating the findings requires consideration of selection bias or sampling bias.

Delimitations

Despite the contingencies and limitations, the proposed research will involve a systematic evaluation of existing studies dedicated to the analysis of various skills, experiences, and models that are necessary for enhancing the efficiency and reliability of collaboration, organizational learning, and employees’ participation (Smith & McKeen, 2011). Yin (2009) argued that case studies, such as single experiments, provide empirical evidence for the reader to derive “analytic generalization” (Yin, 2009, p. 38) from comparing study results within a theoretical framework and not to larger populations. In this respect, specific emphasis should be on the role of information technologies in sustaining and developing new collaboration models.

Summary

This chapter contained an overview of GSS and the ways they may affect the effectiveness of an organization. The chapter also contained the research problem and the methodology for this qualitative research. The significance of the study is to explore and interpret study findings may contribute to the body of knowledge on leadership, interpersonal skills, and the effects on productivity in the workplace. The chapter contained discussions on research method, design appropriateness, appropriateness of a case study to this research study, and the procedures for data collection. Also included in the chapter were a discussion on instrumentation, which consisted of the interview questions for the interviews and the validity and reliability of the questions. The study will involve collecting data through open-ended questions and analyzing them using NVivo software. The researcher will upload transcriptions of the audiotape into NVivo, which is a qualitative software query tool (NVivo, 2012). Using NVivo is helpful in formulating categories to identify themes and explore emerging themes from the narrative text.

Chapter 2 will contain a discussion and a thorough review of the literature on GSS and organizational efficiency. The focus of Chapter 3 will be the methodology selected for the study, including the process of analyzing data. The fourth chapter will include the findings of the study derived from the individual interviews and questionnaires. Also, the chapter will include the results of the research study in the form of common sentences and paragraphs of content analysis results.

The fifth chapter will contain the conclusions and recommendations of the study. These recommendations will emerge from a careful application of the methodological approach described in the third chapter of this research. The objective of the research study led to choosing the qualitative method over the quantitative method. The data for this study will not come from responses to closed-ended questions characteristic of quantitative studies. The sample size for the proposed study will consist of 20 employees of the DHA.

Literature Reviews

The keywords used for the purpose of literature review of this research were group support system, definition of GSS, focal group meetings, advantages and disadvantages of GSS, GSS meetings, objectives of GSS, objectives of focal group meetings, decision making, enhancing communication, face-to-face communication, role of technology in GSS, leadership in GSS, and history of GSS. In the course of resources selection, the choice was made based on the year that the sources were published in (2011 or later) and the credibility of the databases that they came from (peer reviewed journals and scholarly databases).The inclusion criteria for the sources chosen for the literature review incorporate the trustworthiness of the database, which the source was retrieved from, the year, which the source was released in, and the issue, which the author rendered in their paper.

The methods used in the previous research also need to be brought up in this study. One must bear in mind that the research carried out previously also rendered the problem of measuring the relationship between the key variables with the help of a qualitative method. The addition of the thematic analysis, which can be observed in this study, therefore, can be viewed as a step forward in designing the methodology for researching a specific issue.

The vast growth and development in the field of education has been coupled with mammoth expansion of information that is accessible to scholars doing research on any specific topic. Such information is available in both hard copies and soft copies. As a result, libraries are unable to cope with maintaining records of the incessant increase in the information. As such, schools, colleges, and universities have established their own academic libraries to cope with the growing needs of scholars. As is understood by the alterations in the information management realm, there is no library that is capable of storing all available information. Information technology comes to the rescue at this point. At present, librarians try to acquire the maximum number of computers, with the help of which scholars can access information from all over the world without having to travel to a different location (Hart, 1998). Computers have been at scholars’ disposal since the 1970s (Huber, 1980; Kerr & Hiltz, 1982).

The successful development of an organization depends on a plethora of factors, especially those connected with structure, culture, and management mechanisms. A brief analysis of GSS has created implications for further research to define how the GSS influence efficiency and overall performance. Integrating technology into an organization requires a total reconstruction of business management. To accomplish the research, a special emphasis on several aspects is necessary. First, it is necessary to examine various definitions of GSS, as well as how organizations apply them in diverse fields. Second, it is purposeful to consider how GSS can contribute to decision making and conflict resolution in a global setting. Third, the study will involve an attempt to assess research studies dedicated to analyzing the connection between technology and social environment to highlight the pitfalls of current management. Fourth, it is important to examine theories related to the GSS concept, among which the theory of acceptance and task closure theory that focus on the degree of interaction between a computer-based environment and a social medium are of particular concern. Finally, the research will also refer to the connection between the integration of a support system and its influence on value creation, norms, and ethics. The premise of all these approaches is the constant interaction between virtual tools and collaborative environment to ensure the support of and flexibility for teamwork.

Due to unceasing competition, organizational leaders are trying to curtail expenditures, augment the quality of their products, provide better customer service, and concentrate on research and development (Akkirman & Harris, 2005). Groups, rather than individuals, make important decisions in both private and public organizations (Matsatsinis, Grigoroudis, & Samaras, 2005). Healthy communications between team members can be beneficial for the company because such communications increase the knowledge base of the employees and allow people to share important information in a much more expeditious manner (Woltmann, 2009).

Due to the geographical locations of team members, such communication is not always possible. Another problem with face-to-face communication is that each individual has less time to express his or her ideas and thoughts. This type of drawback is known as air fragmentation (Dahlberg, 2007). There is also a possibility of domination by a single person. People fear to express their views because they are afraid that if their ideas or thoughts are significant others will laugh at them (Wigert, de Vreede, Boughzala, & Bououd, 2012). Another reason for not expressing ideas is that individuals believe that if their superiors do not like their ideas or thoughts, they may receive a reprimand or a demotion. Earlier research in organizational field showed that in face-to-face meetings, almost 50% of the time is wasted (Allen, Sands & Mueller, 2012).

The role of GSS becomes inevitable (Hayen, Swaby & Huang, 2007). Group support systems are a tool that facilitates communication between geographically distant team members through computer system (Kim, 2006; Mennecke, Hoffer, & Wynne, 1992; Pendergast, & Hayne, 1995).Group support systems provide organizations with various functions, such as discussions, communications, and data transfer (Ready, Hostager, Lester, & Bergmann, 2004). These systems permit individuals and organizations to categorize, assess, arrive at conclusions, and prepare for action (Lewis & Shakun, 1996; Vreede, Davison, & Briggs, 2003).

Title Searches, Articles, Research Documents, and Journal Researched

An array of information in the field of GSS was available. Reviewing available information contributed to the development of a historical overview of GSS. The focus of the study was on investigating whether business organizations are ready for GSS. The literature indicated different areas, where organizational leaders use GSS. According to the existing evidence, the evolving features of GSS affect their variables, the identification of which requires considering the evolving characteristics of GSS and performing a historical review of the subject matter.

Deriving the necessary literature presupposed locating various possible sources of information. The search for GSS involved many sources, including peer-reviewed journals from the University of Phoenix’s EBSCO host database, ProQuest database, InfoTrac database, Digital Dissertations, and ERIC database. Google searches also included articles regarding GSS. Multiple Google and Yahoo! Online searches contributed to the identification of necessary resources. Results included articles from more than 300 peer-reviewed journals and 22 books about GSS. Articles also came from different company websites where real-life applications of GSS are obtainable.

Group Support Systems

A brief evaluation of GSS has presented the term in the context of technological support that enhances project collaboration through integrating digital communication by means of various resources and tools (Brown et al., 2010; Hayward, 2010). However, there are many other alternative views on the scope and role of GSS in an organizational setting. Ackermann and Eden (2011) discovered that GSS are a representation of a cognitive theory due to their influence on organizational activities at all levels. Organizations have employed GSS to enhance the negotiation of strategy-making groups in an agreed direction. Ackermann and Eden (2011) also insisted that “A GSS may particularly facilitate psychological negotiation within groups, supporting groups in reaching agreements about strategic direction” (p. 294). To understand the context, within which GSS are used, the focus should be on a set of strategic interventions within a multinational organization. This particular use of technology-based support systems can allow group leaders to examine cognitive dynamics, namely, the means for participants to contribute to the agreement and information sharing between group members. Ackermann and Eden (2011) insisted that the use of individual cognition, compared with collective cognition, shapes the underpinning for group negotiation to a greater extent. Although individual cognition prevents an understanding of the role of GSS in a group, it is still vital to discuss GSS within the context of changing cognitions.

Individual thinking is indispensable to evaluating how negotiation changes in the course of introducing separate ideas and strategies. In this respect, GSS build the tools that allow reflecting the key changes occurring. The GDR applied as a GSS platform wholly supports this concept of narrowing into individual contributions during meetings. No two contributions are identical, and as such, collecting diverse ideas from different persons creates a channel for easier solutions to complex organizational aspects (Salmon, 2012). The GDR acknowledges that every contribution is unique and can contribute to problem solving and decision making. Herein the significance of interviews isthe key tool for retrieving information lies.

Jongsawat and Premchaiswadi (2011) also discussed the changing awareness in research studies. Because the basis of group cognition is the information the members use during decision making, group awareness indicates the readiness and availability of a team while working on a particular project (McFarlane, 2013). In this respect, GSS are the tools used to identify the degree of group awareness (Kolfschoten, Niederman, Briggs, & de Vreede, 2012). The system also serves as “an integrated computer-based system to facilitate the solution of unstructured of semi-structured tasks by a group that has joint responsibility for performing the specific task” (Jongsawat & Premchaiswadi, 2011, p. 232). Group support systems enable organizational leaders to make effective decisions and create viable solutions.

Aside from the focus on the computer-based environment, specific attention should be brought to the role of social networks and face-to-face communication in changing attitudes of group members who enter a virtual space. Smith and McKeen (2011) asserted the IT system shapes the basis of collaboration between team members that cannot access face-to-face communication. In this respect, GSS can be an ideal synergy of the IT environment with the participants’ readiness to employ software for enhancing decision making and communication. Istudor and Duţă (2010) also supported this perspective and referred to a GSS as “an interactive software-based system meant to help decision-makers to compile useful information from raw data, documents, personal knowledge, and/or business models and artificial intelligence-based tools to identify, model and solve decision problems” (p. 191).

Hence, GDSS rely on the synchronization of people, software, hardware, and protocols so that the aforementrioned elements of the company could work flawlessly. With regard to the above-presented terms, GSS embrace a range of important components, issues, and conditions, under which people can effectively interact. Computer-based systems, therefore, seek to support activities through interactive communication. The degree, to which solutions are available, identifies their usefulness. The human factor contributes to the effectiveness of online communication in terms of the competence and experience of the team members in applying technological tools (Young, Heeseok, & Youngjin, 2010).

Group Decision Making and Conflict Resolution

With regard to proposed decisions, the main role of GSS lies in improving decision making and conflict management in a team (Goh & Wasko, 2010). The specified function is especially important with regard to the global setting because organizations are operating in increasingly culturally diverse environments. A virtual decision-making process gains momentum in the globalization process. Decision making tendency also leads to collective problem management by employees, whose mobility can be increased through Web-based collaborative tools (Kerr & Hiltz, 1982).

Rapid and interactive decision making is a facilitator to the development of virtual team software and support systems, as well as the promotion of efficient conflict management and improved problem solving (Huang et al., 2010). The integration of IT Solutions contributes to the proliferation of much faster and more practical solutions proposed in an online setting through social networking platforms, microblogs, and discussion forums (Hayward, 2010). Turban et al. (2011) referred to a fit-viability model that assists in evaluating whether social software is suitable to a decision task orientation, as well as organizational development. Turban et al. (2011) found it vital to consider organizational culture and structure because they greatly affect the readiness of employees to accept changes. The methods that Turban et al (2011) employed can be defined as those allowing for an examination of the connection between a decision-making process and GSS and focused on analyzing the various schemes and measures that organizations should integrate in a software-regulated environment to ensure successful decision making. In the course of the study, Lee and Dennis (2012) concluded, “The participants in an IT-enabled group decision-making meeting can import from the already existing socially constructed world” (p. 21). Management can identify virtual reality with face-to-face communication because it also demonstrates interaction of individuals to provide viable solutions.

Group support systems, as important sources of enhancing communication, provide a solid ground for reconstructing decisions. The key justification for tamwork to exist in the realm of business and entrereneurship concerns its ability to integrate the team members into a single entity (Goh & Wasko, 2010). Traditional decision making implies a number of elements, including employment environment, cultural background, and employees’ needs. The evolution of group support into a technologically enabled network over time creates numerous challenges for sustainable operation. In this respect, Antunes and Costa (2010) supported the idea that “group support systems… are seen not only as a communication support, but also as a decision-enabling technology, supporting debate, organization of ideas, simulation and analysis of consequences, and ultimately, enabler of decisions” (p. 198). Group support systems may also be defined as media that enhance knowledge acquisition, quality of decisions, and employees’ motivation to participate in negotiation.

Working in traditional team environments has a positive influence on instant negotiation for various urgent issues, but a globalized approach to management involves developing new mechanisms that can solve the problem of geographical location. Hoffman et al. (2011) noted that the growth of collaborative teams is central to enabling organizations to adopt and implement GSS. The introduction of GSS has provided new alternatives for cooperating and group decision making. Aside from enhanced communication, GSS positively contribute to human resource management. Yao et al. (2010) emphasized that GSS have a capacity to enhance human resource management through efficient communication strategies, build collaborative teams and promote teamwork (p. 401). While introducing a technology-supported environment is a major part of the GSS implementation, the focus on employees’ needs and welfare remains a crucial point.

A globally driven realm that dictates new, software-oriented settings predetermines recent trends in developing business organizations. The proposed case study has concluded that GSS are not only periphery systems enhancing communications but also the main tools for establishing relationships between geographically separate areas. The integration of GSS into a business setting promotes sustainable human resource management and develops new strategies for decision making and conflict management.

Advantages and Disadvantages of GSS

Group support systems are becoming more popular because of the frameworks’ capability to improve group benefits and interfaces. Group support systems offer a plausible and engaging option to the customary face-to-face conferences, and the management finds them beneficial because, withouta proper communication approach deployed, conferences may return zero results and only turn out to be a waste of time (Aiken, Vanjani, & Krosp, 1995). Group support systems include several benefits and drawbacks. Figure 1 indicates the advantages and disadvantages of GSS.

Advantages and disadvantages of GSS
Figure 1. Advantages and disadvantages of GSS (Aiken et al., 1995). Reprinted with permission.

Advantages

The advantages of GSS include secrecy, parallel contacts, computerized record keeping, a improved and more detailed structure, and an increased output (Vreede & Brujin, 1999). Secrecy permits the anonymous sharing of thoughts, which in turn boosts the level of confidence among people to participate in the process (Aiken et al., 1995). Because of this provision of secrecy, the members of the team are not afraid of mockery by other team members. Another advantage is that the team members can share their opinions without being afraid of a reproachful attitude of the manager, who may disagree with the statements voiced during the meeting. More than 80% of mistakes that included secrecy were about thought creation, and GSS secrecy empowers the support of the team members in the presentation of unpredictable thoughts (Pissarra & Jesuino, 2005).

In face-to-face gatherings, individuals should listen to what others talk and often do not have time to ponder; however, a GSS permits everybody to express their opinion simultaneously (Dennis, Fuller, & Valacich, 2008). In conventional gatherings, each individual has just a couple of minutes to express thoughts, whereas GSS permit communication throughout the conference. There is an augmented partaking, which makes the conference is more stimulating and encouraging. Because the team members can use their thoughts in an unexpected approach which is crucial because each individual has his or her own level of intelligence and can generate new thoughts (Aiken et al., 1995).

With the GDR, there is a significant savings of time. Unlike in traditional meetings that involve losing considerable time giving everyone limited time to participate, GSS save time (Franz, 2012) by welcoming all incoming contributions at the same time by the central computer because the entire GDR is based upon an interconnected computer network (Stair & Reynolds, 2013). Participants present the collected answers for brainstorming altogether, and evaluating the best solution (Power, 2014).

A GSS immediately records remarks, voting status, and other important data given by a group. As there is an automatic record-keeping facility in GSS, the obtained records are automatically transferred into an e-file (Aiken et al., 1995). The advantage of this kind of facility is that the team members or the managers need not carry hard copies of the records whenever and wherever required. In other words, they do not have to keep mental track of the proceedings (Kool, Waes, Bijker, Peelen, Wolfswinkel, Graaf & Klei, 2012). In conventional aggregation settings, members frequently neglect to understand the narration of the speaker or may be unable to process the information rapidly enough to contribute efficiently (Aiken et al., 1995).

More composition and concentration is necessary in a conference, which makes it difficult for the members to stray from the topic or problem. Group support systems minimize the distractions between teams that are working toward a common aim of completing a particular venture or assignment (Agres, Vreede, & Briggs, 2005), which helps in avoiding rushed and imperfect assessments. This system also ensures more output because the meeting concentrates only on a particular problem, and as such, the time consumed is less due to fewer or no deviations. Leaders at IBM were able to halve the time consumed in meetings, and leaders at Boeing were able to decrease the total time consumed in various meetings by 90% (Aiken et al., 1995).

Anonymity also counts as an advantage. Contributions made during meetings were traditionally open, and everyone knew who made which statements. This situation was restrictive, as some people would not share their ideas because they were afraid others would perceive them as irrational or inapplicable (Nunamaker, Romano, & Briggs, 2013). Anonymous participants might give raw suggestions because they do not have to filter any factors for fear of others perceiving them as vulgar, a whistleblower, or indiscreet. As such, the chances of sharing more information or collecting better ideas are higher with the GSS platform.

Disadvantages

Although there are certain advantages of GSS, there are also certain disadvantages. Disadvantages consist of sluggish communication, imperviousness to transformation, absence of media sumptuousness, enhancement of disagreements, loss of nexus members, improper use of technology, and high expenditures (Elfvengreen, 2008; Hayen et al., 2007; Huber, 1980). Another disadvantage of GSS as portrayed by GDR is that collective thinking is usually a trap under several situations. For instance, when a complex matter arises in which no specific, definite solution is likely, GSS is likely will offer the easiest solution. In the event that the GDR systems collect the resulting contributions and the average shows that the easy option is the best solution, then it means the solution was not the best, which presents a limitation of collective thinking: that management might propose the wrong answer (Power, 2014).

Individuals have distinctive studying styles, some taking ideas or strategies at a relatively sluggish speed compared to others. Certain individuals cannot match their typing speeds with their verbal communication. Others may have insignificant keyboard abilities. Even though this particular disadvantage is gradually diminishing, it is still a hindrance during some meetings (Kerr & Hiltz, 1982). It is always advisable to employ a GSS for meetings of bigger magnitude. When the group consists of more than eight members, the point of interest of analogous correspondence has a tendency to overshadow the detriments of constrained keyboarding abilities (Wigert et al., 2012).

Anonymity may be a limitation as well. It becomes harder to tell whether a person behind a workstation (in the GDR) is active during a session or not. Although this may not be a problem as the meeting may proceed in that person’s absence, it means that time and resource wastage is more likely to occur (Nunamaker, Romano, & Briggs, 2013). Anonymity may create a potential channel for irrelevant contributions during meetings. This means that because privacy is a part of this GSS system, a contributor may post irrelevant information that might be misguiding in decision making.

People are usually resistant to transformation, particularly pertaining to technology. Individuals regularly feel threatened by workstations and feel debilitated when interacting with new individuals (Dennis et al., 2008). Employing a GSS involves preparing to use the programming, and some individuals may be reluctant to study how to use the framework. Managers at higher posts, who might not be workstation proficient, are more likely to have a predisposition against using the system and prefer to use the conventional system (Aiken et al., 1995).

The GSS security greatly depends on hard copies of information, and subsequently different types of correspondence are diminishing. In conventional conferences, nonverbal communication and facial statements can help other team members have an idea about the reaction of any particular comment (Parker, 2011). Team members always favor face-to-face correspondence, and as such, the GSS can make conferences unfriendly and only related to the concerning problem (Ready et al., 2004).

Disagreements could increase because of obscurity in the conference, because the comments of certain individuals might be critical. Members might abuse the system because the remarks are secret, and one member could submit different remarks complying with different members, who might make it, appear that more individuals concur with a remark when they might be incorrect (Spiro, 2010). Individuals, who want to control a verbal gathering, might have less interest in contributing to a GSS because they are unable to use their verbal aptitude (Aiken et al., 1995). Introverted members are more likely to take an interest in the system, and this inclination augments their participation (Spiro, 2010).

One of the main issues with GSS programming devices is the expense, which can range from $15,000 to $50,000, especially for GSS intended for use in a decision-room background (Kim, 2006). The substantial amount of money involved might not be cost effective until and unless organizational leaders adopt the GSS on a regular basis. Specifically crafted GSS cabins at the University of Mississippi cost $250,000. A smaller version of such a cabin could cost approximately $90,000 (Aiken et al., 1995). Nonetheless, further improvements and upgrades in freely accessible e-collaborations have made numerous GSS aspects easy to access that involve no expenses or negligible expenses (Pearlman & Gates, 2010).

Understanding the Gaps Between Technology and Social Environment

The rapid integration of technological support in social environments has provided a new framework for operating within a business organization. The development of GSS requires the acquisition of new skills, experiences, and competencies among the employees that influence the effectiveness of their performance (Hardin, Looney & Fuller, 2014). Virtual teams do not allow the teams to negotiating in a real environment, except for a few issues. The employees communicating in a virtual space can be less encouraged to participate to achieve trustful and motivated relationships (Eweje et al., 2012). The gap can affect further advancement of IT-enabled group support and management negatively. An analysis of research studies might help to understand the problem (Dennis et al., 2008).

The emergence of a digital community is not a novel issue, as the adoption of the first technology-based models of collaboration dates back to the second half of the 20th century (Dumeresque, 2013). Short (2012) introduced studies, in which the focus was on the development and acquisition of new, alternative skills that expand experience in communicating at various levels. Group support system technology substitutes a social context for brainstorming, problem solving, negotiation, and communication by means of an electronic environment (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). The assumption that a virtual environment can create communication gaps is false. Rather, Chen and Kyaw-Phyo noted that “The main objective of GDSS is to enhance the process of the group decision-making by eliminating communication barriers, offering techniques for alternative’s decision analysis” (p. 32). At this point, GSS technology advances at an information-processing dimension that largely depends on such characteristics as place, time, and synchronicity.

Collaborating technology and group decision making are vital for culturally diverse settings. To integrate this environment, employees must have new tools and skills for collaboration (Hoffman et al., 2011). However, the above mentioned challenges have provided a number of limitations to integrating and developing IT-enabled communities in the workplace. To eliminate this gap, Kolfschoten et al. (2012) advised considering two types of support, technology support and process support, both of which involve design tasks, application tasks, and management tasks. These three dimensions rely on associated roles and responsibilities imposed on the members of a business organization. Kolfschoten et al. (2012) introduced a framework for collaboration and technology-based support that indicated group members should focus on such roles as development, application, and management of design administration. The framework should include a process designer, or a collaboration engineer, whose primary responsibility is designing a set of strategies for the meeting process.

Process application is another dimension needed for collaborative activities. Its facilitator provides instructions for monitoring the group members and assisting them in achieving the established objectives. At this stage, the facilitator should take responsibility for preparing and operating the corresponding software, including the technical tools for assembling the meeting facilities. The e-collaborative tools and on human resources involvement in the collaborative process should be the focus of the management process. The reviewed research studies indicated that it was necessary to create an alternative setting, in which employees can improve their communication and develop new skills replacing and improving traditional means of group interaction to fill the gap between technology and social environments. A specific framework proposed for this solution refers to design, application, and management, which should engage third parties to ensure successful communication and fruitful outcomes.

Organizational leaders around the world are employing GSS. The leaders choose the GSS because it decreases traveling costs, increases the effectiveness of decision making, and cretes a working atmosphere, where ideas occur quickly and the air of innovation surrounds the work process (Bose, 2003). Organizational leaders prefer GSS that are economical, are adaptable, and can reconcile with their current information system (Bose, 2003). Numerous aspects of computer-aided interactions influence the output of organizations pertaining to team attempts, and a specific mention of e-coordination is eminent. The main aim of the GSS is to improve the effectiveness of group collaboration by expediting the distribution of data between the team members (Goh & Wasko, 2010). Personal Computer-interceded communication needs social habitations and influences the discernment and understanding of the significance of messages shared, which makes the sharing of data around scattered teams somewhat troublesome (Kim, 2006). Because of the promptness of communication and the absence of enough socio-zealous signs displayed in computer-intervened communication, in contrast to face-to-face meetings, the time required for coming to conclusions increases. Moreover, there is a disagreement between members concerning results, i.e., the failure to reach any conclusion within the stipulated time (Andres, 2002). The inefficiency of PC-intervened communication to transfer the socio-zealous matter in messages incites lower fulfillment with the issue comprehending procedure (Andres, 2002).

Numerous collaborative tools are accessible with a wide array of characteristics and costs. Various GSS are available in the global market, including Netscape’s Collabra Share, Novell’s Groupwise, Microsoft’s Exchange and Group Systems (Siau, 2003). Business groups and people should identify their actual need and budget before opting for any GSS. These options incorporate team underpinning for a standard Web client and could connect to additional individual uses such as family picture collections and family tree learning. Organizational leaders have a wide array of choices for supporting group collaborations with PC-interceded devices for additional successful team actions and communications (Dennis et al., 2008).

Group support systems are favorable to business conglomerations, scholastic conglomerations, and other people. They are gaining acceptance as a viable PC-based interaction instrument. Cooperation and decisions made by teams are critical steps made inside associations and promoted in scholastic settings (Bessiere et al., 2009). Teams that are geographically scattered can interact as though they are at the same place. Conglomerations that have these frameworks have fewer travel expenses and improved output. Innovations and enhanced characteristics will lure leaders of conglomerations who do not use GSS networks so they can learn the advantages of this system. As conglomerations have global competition, GSS expedite correspondence (Schouten, van den Hooff, & Feldberg, 2010). This is a successful use of GSS.

Participants of GSS at the DHHQ have indicated electronic meetings are much easier and more enjoyable. In comparison to traditional meetings, electronic meetings enable brainstorming, voting, defining concepts, and collectively evaluating ideas according to categorized methods. The Internet and general IT are the basis of GSS platforms, and as such, they extend beyond the intra-organization bracket. Through supporting technologies such as videoconferencing, international or inter-organizational communication is possible.

Videoconferencing at the DHHQ is currently enabled using the Adobe Connect Online tool, which makes it possible to communicate virtually within and beyond videoconferencing. The tool records virtual meetings and stores them in a content library. This videoconferencing tool is also suitable for inter-organization trainings. Other features of the GSS that the DHHQ staff members enjoy include security compliance and enhanced security control.

Virtual communication and videoconferencing technologies such as Webinar and videoconferencing hosts Sysco Tandberg Systems enable videoconferencing. These GSS technologies are similar in concept but differ in their areas of application. The Adobe Connect Online technologies have features that most of these other technologies lack. When combined, these factors make meetings simpler, cheaper, more effective, and better in terms of support and decision making (Jennex, 2012).

The scholarly environment sometimes has scholars partaking in team ventures and identified communication. Alternatives are available to meet these cooperation ventures. They may be directed through message, inside a course administration framework, or with other considerably accessible economical instruments (Young et al., 2010). The instrument that provides unsurpassed support is superior. In this way, scholars face numerous identical options in selecting the synthesized characteristics that best furnish collaboration for a specific learning atmosphere. Since the pattern of a ceaselessly growing GSS instrument is tried and tested in this research, several upgrades in the innovation have eradicated the hindrances to e-cooperation. The true test concerns finding the way to use innovations such as GSS most effectively (Schouten et al., 2010; Wigert et al., 2012).

Sametime, WebDemo, Microsoft NetMeeting, eRoom, GroupSystems, and WebEx are some of the collaborative tools on the market that support the use of GSS (Hayen et al., 2007). These programming devices offer numerous characteristics and advantages that may be convenient to a conglomeration, depending upon its needs. The e-collaboration feature is accessible to any Web consumer through websites such as Google (Google, 2013), Microsoft Network (Microsoft, 2013a), and Yahoo (Yahoo, 2013). The ensuing paragraphs contain a description of some of the advantages of a few major collaborative tools.

Group systems

Group systems offer conceptualizing purposes and are essential in scenarios where obscurity, positioning, and voting are important. Group systems allow all members to think and express themselves outside the standard face-to-face environments and permit everyone to participate in inventive or issuing explained targets instead of a mere couple of features. GroupSystems give structure and incorporate secrecy when needed. Leaders of conglomerations using GSS programming have saved almost half to three fourths of expenditures and time compared to those using traditional face-to-face meetings. GroupSystems has some features that make using GSS easy. These features are not available in many other collaborative tools.

Microsoft’s Net Meeting

Microsoft provides teleconferencing or videoconferencing through the Internet with advanced security features (Hayen et al., 2007). The encryption of information is important because it enhances the security of computer systems that store information securely (Microsoft, 2013b). Sound and movie upgrades permit members to view other individuals and exchange thoughts in the course of discussions. According to Microsoft (2013b), the Whiteboard is important because it promotes teamwork among members. Organizational members use valid and accurate data and carry out remote conversations with others in various remote regions.

Groove

Groove is a GSS program that Microsoft offers to its clients. The program facilitates the convening of meetings and ventures and keeps a record of all the details pertaining to them (Microsoft, 2013c). Important pieces of qualified information such as statistics, records, messages, conferences, and forms are stored together in one place for everybody in the group to view. Allies inside and outside the conglomerates might be united, and team members can know the virtual area or online vicinity of other team members, which facilitates discussions and coordinated efforts (Microsoft, 2013c). Everyone can work with the same informative content if they are on the Web, logged off, or on a low frequency connection. Virtual teams cut across national, organizational, and functional boundaries, often resulting in enhanced diversity rates (Paul, Samarah, Seetharaman, & Mykytyn, 2005).

Google’s Groups and Docs and Spreadsheets

Google’s services expedite GSS e-coordinated efforts for regular Internet clients, because this tool is free. In Groups, users develop a discussion board where other users can post their ideas. Clients post their comments, read others’ comments, and enter into a discussion board if required. It is possible to make a discussion group open to all or limited to certain people. In an open group, anyone can participate in the discussion and post comments. In a closed group, only the requested people have the authority to read and post comments. As diverse categories exist with several groups, they reflect the complexity of the discussions. With Docs and Spreadsheets, clients have an improved work area for their e-coordinated effort. Clients can upload files or other documents so that people in the group can see the files and documents and make any amendments. People can make amendments to files and other documents only if both the person who has uploaded the file or document and the person who wants to make the change are online at the same time. This means the involved parties can share the file or document concurrently. This e-coordinated effort takes place without a Web program. Google’s Groups and Docs and Spreadsheets are examples of GSS tools that are accessible from anywhere via the Internet.

Managers standardized GSS that give e-coordinated efforts in the last decade. This system is not accessible to only bigger conglomerates. It is easily accessible and extensively used by normal Web associated independent people as well. This has also energized the development of GSS e-coordinated efforts throughout organizations and the community. If an organizational member does not use a GSS with any group-related functions in the workplace or school setting, the group’s coordinated efforts may need reevaluating (Google, 2013).

Interaction Between Computer-Based and Social Environments

The success of GSS integration depends largely on psychological and cultural factors. Technology acceptance and recognition is a step toward a successful penetration in the e-collaborative dimension (Bakker et al., 2011). Specific emphasis should be on the theory of acceptance and task closure theory that provide key tools for the gradual acquisition of necessary knowledge, experience, and skills (Owens et al., 2011).

Brown et al. (2010) noted that researchers have paid attention to technology acceptance as the starting point for developing mature GSS. The concept of maturity implies the presence of models and frameworks that are employable in a decision-making process. The technology acceptance model involves defining “specific classes of technologies that capture the nuances of the class of technologies and/or business processes” (Brown et al., 2010, p. 2). A set of theories constructs the technology acceptance model, including social presence theory and task closure theory. According to the task closure theory, social presence and recipient availability constitute the key underpinnings for choosing a communication medium. The model also implies that the qualities presented above are significant for selecting a specialized tool for interaction because individuals express the need to bring closure to message sequences. Choosing an appropriate communication device allows people to feel that they can efficiently achieve results while negotiating.

Aside from developing virtual collaboration, the basic function of GSS lies in creating a social construction of meaning. Using task closure theory, Chou and Min (2009) focused on the influence of the media environment and group members on the relationship among breadth and depth of information sharing. Chou and Min (2009) also adhered to the idea that “task closure theory is appropriate for explaining why a low social presence medium (such as electronic information sharing) paradoxically leads to high performance when dealing with fuzzy task” (p. 428). Successful knowledge management and corporate software support system that facilitate strategic decision making and enhance the competitiveness of an organization are the primary basis of technology acceptance (Kimble, Grenier, & Goglio-Primard, 2010). Within the context of knowledge management, GSS can serve as consultation systems thatemploy artificial intelligence techniques to organize knowledge and make it available for decision-making frameworks. Trivedi and Sharma (2012) represented GSS in a larger conceptual framework, along with software support systems and the technology acceptance model to emphasize their significance for an organization. Trivedi and Sharma noted that a successful implementation of GSS is possible through the consideration of psychological factors that make individuals accept various types of GSS.

The awareness of previous models of support systems, as well as technology frameworks for adopting these systems, is another means for the successful integration of IT-enabled technological environments. Group support systems cannot exist separately from the dimensions such as information sharing and exchange, knowledge management, and human factors (Koan, 2011). More importantly, GSS should correlate with other technology models such as software support systems, decision support systems (DSS), and technology acceptance model (Richey et al., 2012). The task closure theory is also indispensable to sustaining GSS and creating a new social construct within an organization (Short, 2012).

Adaptive Structuration Theory

Another important theoretical aspect to consider in the study of GSS is the adaptive structuration theory. The theory developed from the hypothesis that group organization is a function of social and task-based practices (Naik & Kim, 2010). Because analyzing GDSS involves focusing on the way, in which groups use them, the analysis of GSS-based decision making also occurs within these contexts. Analyzing the influence of GSS on decision making can involve identifying the systems that conform to GSS technology. These systems include guidelines that groups can apply for structuring (Ghiyoung, 2014). While testable GSS-based decision making could be relevant, it is important to analyze the different structures to discern GSS-based decision making.

In their research, Gupta and Bostrom (2013) differentiated between aspects of technological systems. Gupta and Bostrom identified life, which referred to the overall objectives and approaches that the system endorses (egalitarian decision systems), and the specifics, which referred to the systematic integration of structures into the organizational core (unidentified contribution of concepts). These GSS-based decision-making procedures are usually compatible but frequently seem to oppose one another. Decision-making systems that are GSS based have features based on the structuration theory. Structuration is a system development and redevelopment method based on users’ conformity to rules and application of available resources (Darshana & Gable, 2010).

A major aspect of the theory of adaptive structuration is group interaction since different social interactive procedures re-create the applicable structural system (Jollean & Clinton, 2011). Any relative factor that influences member collaboration (such as organized creativity, task features, and deadlines) may affect GSS-based decision making. In-depth analysis of group activities helps to identify the appropriate application of GSS in decision making. The focus on the ways, in which these groups employ and re-create technical and social systems, will result in a clear understanding of the most effective approach for GSS-based decision making (Jollean & Clinton, 2011).

It is possible to investigate appropriation from small group collaborations at a particular instance when the GSS decision systems involved span long periods and when they concern organizational and societal technology values (Sora, Kai, Min, & Hee-Dong, 2012). Sora et al. (2012) offered a viewpoint on GSS-based decision making whereby both social elements and technology influence the group results, but only via influence on the structuring processes of the members. The focus of most research studies on adaptive structuration theory is on the ways, in which social elements and technology influence group appropriation procedures. Jollean and Clinton (2011) explained social and technology GSS-based decision making was less appropriate for conflict management when compared to groups not exposed to the examined GSS-based decision-making procedure (Sora et al., 2012).

Other research studies have identified variations in the effectiveness of conflict management between GSS-based and manual decision-making procedures. Since individuals react differently when exposed to stimuli, it is obvious that GSS systems will influence groups differently (Sora et al., 2012). In a similar conclusion, Ghiyoung (2014) explained that individuals exposed to GSS-based decision-making procedures had a considerably higher level of agreement than other individuals exposed to only instruction systems. Thus, adaptive structuration is a theoretical indicator of the significance of GSS-based decision-making systems for organizational productivity.

Research Questions and Variables

The main purposes of the study are:

  1. to define the degree of an organization’s readiness to implement GSS in a traditionally structured environment;
  2. to assess whether the application of GSS will be a factor in preventing the negative effects that meetings may pose to productivity;
  3. to understand how GSS application will contribute to better levels of motivation, satisfaction, and communication among members of the organization.

The use of GSS currently occurs in almost every field. A review of historical, current, and future trends in GSS research will highlight the relationship between GSS and the above-mentioned variables.

Historical Current and Gaps Overview of GSS Systems

Decision making remains the most significant element in management (Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner, 2011). Literature on GSS-based decision making frequently relates the process to the intelligent design choice paradigm. The theory includes confined rationality (which insinuates that, although it is possible to achieve a rational process of decision making, there are restrictions in individual intellectual processing skill under complex situations) and satisfying (indicating that even when the best decision is the goal, confined rationality and restricted evidence could lead to endorsing solutions that are considerably feasible; (Javad, Ribeiroa, & Varelac, 2014)). Researchers have performed various studies on GSS-based decision making to eliminate the restrictions of fabricated complexity resolvers.

A considerable increase in processor-based computers was notable in the 1960s (Hosack, Hall, Paradice, & Courtney, 2012). The major application of this form of computing in business operations was the automation of repetitive business handling (Hosack et al., 2012). At that time, computers were massive, costly, and had different specialized requirements for effective upkeep and use (Ghrabab, Saadbc, Gargouria, & Kasselb, 2014). Creating computer models was complicated. A person would require special programming knowledge to develop software that could accept data, and it was necessary for the programming to be on tape and created through a rigid set of commands (Alkhuraijia, Liua, Oderantia, Annansingha, & Pana, 2014). It was impossible for users to make any modifications to the process without the assistance of programming professionals (Alkhuraijia et al., 2014). Implementing these changes was time consuming, as a single modification could take weeks to accomplish. Although new functionalities were achievable after such modifications, the time and complexity associated with the modifications were frustrating (Alkhuraijia et al., 2014).

The emergence of minicomputers during the 1970s resulted in an improvement in technology-based management (Hosack et al., 2012). The new computers were not as large and costly as mainframes, and they required less frequent maintenance. This made it possible for even small departments within firms to purchase computers, resulting in webbed computing systems and eventually to a group-based decision-making procedure.

As company leaders began to adopt these shared computing technologies, other aspects of computer-based systems for decision-making research emerged in literature (Hosack et al., 2012). Researchers focused more on cheap and user friendly systems than they did on monotonous systems. These ideas were the key premise for the first research, where DSS were separate from organizational information structures, to commence (Hosack et al., 2012).

Early descriptions indicated that DSS focused on unregulated and semi-regulated issues, and information systems focused on less critical, organized issues including those backed by business handling structures. According to the existing records, GSS-based decision-making systems still supports decisions that could initially have been unregulated and are currently better organized due to a growth in knowledge. During the 1970s, the focus on GSS-based decision making emerged from the need to improve business solutions as complex unregulated and semi-regulated management decisions; the specified ussye turned out to conceal a major focus area of studies related to information systems (Hosack et al., 2012).

Interactivity played a significant role in the development of GSS-based decision-making systems as it enabled instantaneous data analysis (Hosack et al., 2012). The introduction of this method made conflict resolution easier, as it allowed interactive troubleshooting and real-time decision making (Eisa, 2013). This process, therefore, eliminated unnecessary delays in the decision-making process successfully. It was important to integrate data into GSS-based decision-making systems because group members required tangible data to analyze and proffer solutions to the problems. Evolution in the database systems was continuous, which led to new approaches for better database management. Researchers shifted focus to investigating the best methods of integrating database systems into GSS in order to enable more tangible decision making (Hosack et al., 2012).

A review of different research studies within this period indicated that interpersonal communication was an inadvertent issue of focus for most researchers (Hosack et al., 2012). The results of the studies performed during this period showed that most GSS-based systems served to persuade or negotiate. The persuasion element of the GSS-based decision-making process used data to indicate an activity that was either advantageous or disadvantageous. The negotiation element provided the opportunity for decision makers to begin by cutting down discrepancies or misinterpretations. Although decision makers considers these functions normal, GSS-based decision-making examinations during that time were designed for aiding management decisions and not for analyzing data (Hosack et al., 2012). Users understood the opportunities availed by the presence of data and harnessed these opportunities to suit their requirements.

It is, therefore, possible to conclude that the presence of communication and interactive technology was a result of GSS-based decision making, which was useful for managers facing ambiguous issues. Research studies on GSS-based decision making combined technological advancement via database models and interactive technology with respect to ambiguity problems. Researchers of GSS during the 1980s integrated both technological development and an increased knowledge of decision making. New hardware and software (such as the IBM PC and electronic spreadsheets) enabled interactive decision making even among group members without programming skills. Researchers examined the internal processes used for developing decision-making models. At this point, researchers focused on GSS. While the integration of these systems was advantageous, it allowed all users to come up with potential solutions to the problem at hand, which resulted in conflicts during corporate meetings. There was a need for researchers to focus on possible ways of regulating GSS-based decision-making procedures.

Historical research studies on GSS-based decision-making procedures principally focused on assisting decision makers by offering computer-based aid during conventional corporate gatherings (Ghrabab et al., 2014). The evolution of technology eliminated the need for participants to be in the same location during meetings, as videoconferencing technology emerged. Various researchers investigated the influence of IT on GSS-based decision-making procedures (Hosack et al., 2012). Researchers also focused on the group procedure, investigating variables, including leadership styles, and employee satisfaction (Ghrabab et al., 2014). Intranet technologies also emerged during the same period as microcomputers started evolving, which led to another technological development and improvement in the knowledge of effective group decision making.

Group support systems and GDSS are two phenomena that are challenging to differentiate between. Lindena (2014) referred to GDSS as GSS; however, GSS include other variables such as design, interaction, intervention, dialoguing, and a range of responsibilities required for effective decision making within groups (Turban, Liang, & Wu, 2011). Tow, Dell, and Venable (2010) linked the progress of individual to GSS, which resulted in developing a system based on negotiation. The outcome of the investigation indicated that executive ISs were a result of GDSS and triggered the creation of data storage and Internet-based investigative processes, data sourcing, including organizational intelligence systems.

The outcomes of DSS are not always successful, despite their application since 1970. Most of these letdowns are the result of inadequate planning, communication, and execution (Hosack et al., 2012). Although these systems should aid the decision-making process, the ability of management to make informed decisions will also have an influence on DSS success or failure. Thus, GSS-based decision-making processes characterized by incompetent analysts will not be successful.

Poorly implemented DSS may also lead to economic instability (Kolfschoten et al., 2012). The crash of the stock market in the 1980s was the result of computerized systems that used the index as an indicator for trade automation (Yahiaa, Saoudab, & Ghezalaa, 2014). To address the issue, computerized systems were permitted to control the trades and failed to place limitations on these systems or allow for human control.

The evolution of GSS-based decision-making processes, in line with IT, is obvious from this historical review. These systems not only enabled but. also restricted human activities (Kolfschoten et al., 2012). Technology only permits people to perform possible gestures, which means that it was not feasible to develop GSS-based decision-making processes when people could not easily communicate with computer systems (Kolfschoten et al., 2012).). Moreover, it was impossible for IT systems to support groups without the availability of network systems as well. With the continuous expansion and development of technology, it is obvious that opportunities for GSS-based decision making will be continually increasing.

Present and Future Trends in GSS Research

The evolution process has seen DSS shift from a merely technological viewpoint to one that integrates data and knowledge (O’Leary, 2014). Apart from recognizing the importance of data and knowledge in any system, it is important to understand their application. Different researchers have offered models that integrate DSS concepts beyond technological considerations (Pommeranz, Broekens, Wiggers, Brinkman, & Jonker, 2012; Wongsuphasawat, Plaisant, Taieb-Maimon, & Shneiderman, 2012).

There is a plethora of research studies on GSS, and trying to identify each study will be complicated. Researchers have mostly investigated the significance of applying GSS in poorly organized decision-making procedures. Current technology is more efficient and accurate than historical technology, and there has been a notable increase in data availability. According to Kolfschoten et al. (2012), the abundance of data means that organizational leaders must ensure fast decision making by responding to all evidence available, which makes it necessary for research to continue investigating the best ways to manage data for decision making.

Research studies on information systems since 1980s evolved through six paths, namely, through inter-organizational system study, information systems tactics, online software, information systems thematic studies, qualitative technique studies, and, most significantly from the viewpoint of the proposed study, GSS studies (Dillon, Taylor, & Van Wingen, 2010). It is important to consider the potential trends in the area of GSS-based decision-making research studies. The integration of innovative approaches to data management might define future trends.

Knowledge Management Decision Support Systems (KMDSS) and Data Storage

The research streams of knowledge management decision support systems (KMDSS) and data warehousing are likely to merge, and the focus will incorporate better ways to allow organizational members to interact with available information, wherever and whenever it is available. Researchers of future studies are likely to focus on how KMDSS and data storage will integrate, and future studies will seek to include improved methods to facilitate remote interactions between group members in real time. Arnot and Pervan (2014) noted that the emergence of DSS has improved business intelligence in organizations, which means that DSS have become an indispensable aspect of modern organizations. The dynamic aspects of DSS have turned them into versatile tools that are applicable in diverse organizations. This trend is under way because a growth in decision-making complexity and information accessibility will result in the need to align data systems that are logically based with technologies that support the decision-making process. The specified trent is about to be implemented and will supposedly be used by organizations such as Google and Amazon, presumably being about to improve their income through customer services that leverage data to help clients makes logical decisions.

Integrating KMDSS with data storage is an indication of organizational leaders’ intention to focus on customer satisfaction. It used to take years to develop and integrate database storage systems with business operations. Current applications allow businesses to gather knowledge in a matter of seconds. This customer-based perception of organizational decision making closely relates to the application of social networks and the way, in which they influence individual decisions. People now consider the number of likes and followers a product has on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, before deciding on whether to purchase the product. Mobile systems also influence the decision of consumers regarding a product or service. Some companies provide consumers with a mobile shopping experience to enable them to perform reviews of substitute products. Data storing and KMDSS will always be a major area of research. Considering the majority of the research in this area will be related to technology, it will be possible to examine improved processes for data recovery, categorization, or operation; classification; and other procedural inventions to increase the optimal operation of storage systems and the collaboration of the latter with other systems, including KMDSS.

Social-Media-Based Group Support Systems

The application of social media for GSS is another potential trend is. It will be important to consider social media separately seeing that it has a range of exceptional features and potential to be a major subject of investigation in the nearest future. Social media is more of a behavioral system than a technical one. The aforementioned element of technology goes beyond regular GSS, as it encompasses an analysis of business requirements through socially defined subjects such as music trends. Organization might make business decisions based on users’ reactions to ideas communicated via social media. By creating posts that attract users’ reactions, the management may decide on the feasibility of employing a particular strategy or releasing a product or service into the market.

Although the social media system is regarded as a behavioral factor, it is not merely a leisure activity. Through diverse social media platforms, firms may understand consumer needs. Apart from being less expensive than direct consumer surveys, users’ views through social media are more honest and direct (Jollean & Clinton, 2011). Leaders of business organizations are beginning to understand the significance of social-media-based decision-making systems, which has resulted in the increased integration of social media applications in business decision processes (Scott, 2011). More researchers also focus on the relationships between different demographics and social-media-based advertising (Taylor, Lewin, & Strutton, 2011). The outcomes of these research studies indicated that the acceptance of social media systems as a means of advertising for most demographics is expanding. Future researchers might discuss the potentials and restrictions of social-media-based decision-making systems.

In the GDR, for instance, researchers can create models depending on their nature and whether it is a simulation, a optimization, or a financial one. In their construction, researchers provide and apply limited data as a guide to the systems’ functioning, which means analyzing data (contributions) is easier and is specific to the basic model. Researchers can assess financial data individually and filter any unrelated contribution during the automated evaluation process (Han & Kamber, 2012). The result is, therefore, more accurate, it saves time, and is more efficient in decision making.

Trust is another important aspect of research in the area of social-media-based decision-making systems. Researchers have focused on investigating how trust influences the outcomes of Information Systems use (Hsu & Chang, 2014; Rose & Schlichter, 2013). The findings from initial research studies focusing on trust and informational systems might not be applicable to social media systems. Social media users rarely restrict their information to contacts (Chai, Bagchi-Sen, Morrell, Rao, & Upadhyaya, 2012). To ensure effective social-media-based decision making, future researchers might focus on identifying the variables that influence trust.

It is also important to consider the significance of the virtual environment when analyzing social media systems. Leaders of business organizations might use the gaming Web environment to identify the skills of possible recruits (Hosack et al., 2012). These virtual systems are popular, but their ability to predict the potential of participants might be questionable. Future researchers might also focus on the relationship between virtual environment user profiles and the traits and abilities of the actual users. Researchers might also investigate the best way to attract individuals to virtual environments. Research indicated the importance of inclusion and accessibility for the promotion of supportive, integrative behavior among users (Porter, Donthu, MacElroy, & Wydra, 2011).

Mobile Technology and GSS

Mobile technology is another prospective trend in GSS research. This aspect of research is technical and integrates initial literature on GSS-based decision-making models. Through mobile technology, users may communicate with available structures, notwithstanding the user or structure location (Perez, Cabrerizo, & Herrera-Viedma, 2010). Mobile technology is gaining popularity and its incorporation into user systems is increasing (Perez, Wikström, Mezei, Carlsson, Anaya, & Herrera-Viedma, 2013; Perez, Wikström, Mezei, Carlsson, & Herrera-Viedma, 2013). The systems provided by mobile technologies motivate the evolution of conventional GSS decision-making procedures (Perez et al., 2010). The improved characteristics of these systems, coupled with constant accessible support, create considerable technological benefits for organizational decisions. Through mobile technology, the management of an organization may easily access live feeds and monitor or enhance collected information, which may be a part of the decision-making process (Perez, Wikström, Mezei, Carlsson, & Herrera-Viedma, 2013).

It is important to consider the different complications characteristic to mobile technologies. Although mobile systems are available, designing systems that link users to the technology may be challenging (Perez et al., 2010), which makes it obvious that future researchers will focus on understanding the best way of approaching the ever-changing technology. Herskovic, Ochoa, Pino, and Neyem (2011) performed a study to create a system dedicated to organizing combined systems specifically developed for mobile technology. The resulting design produced a system that overcame complexity and autocratic organization characteristics to non-mobile technologies.

Group Support Systems and Value Creation in a Business Organization

The efficiency of GSS lies in their relevant adjustment to business and employees’ needs. The computer-supported environment should also conform to the values, mission, and ethnic standards of an organization (Trivedi & Sharma, 2012). The premise of the synergy of GSS frameworks and corporate culture can include a number of issues and rationales.

Systems thinking is often viewed as opposite to the individual decision making, but this scheme is not consistent with the actual objectives of GSS and their contribution to value creation (Webne-Behrman, 2008). Ackermann, Andersen, Eden, and Richardson (2010) contended that the introduction of computer-based interactive systems add greater value to group management. Various software devices create the link between traditional meetings and proposed virtual settings. Schouten, et al. (2010) noted that the main advantage of GSS lies in better awareness of problems compared to individual thinking. A technology-supported group has more data at its disposal than separate members coordinating with each other. Developing a collective system is possible through GSS only, which presents a new value for the relationships within an organization. Group support systems are less likely to fail because all processes and activities take place in coordination, but not at an individual level (Trivedi & Sharma, 2012).

Resourced-based capabilities that information technologies introduce also enhance the significance of GSS for a business organization. In particular, a range of IT resources creates a competitive advantage and, therefore, provides value to business activities. Ramamani (2010) noted that “Information systems researchers have applied the resource-based view to suggest that some firms view IT assets as key resources and exploit it to leverage competitive advantage” (p. 12). Combining various techniques and resources within a GSS is beneficial for enhancing the value and mission of an organization. Pertinent interaction between organizational routines and software use ensures the success of the technology-enhanced support (Paul et al., 2005).

Electronic meetings using GSS integrate decision-support strategies, computer (information) technologies, and communication in creating efficiency. The idea of this three-in-one model is to aid in coming up with solutions to unstructured organizational problems in group settings (Kock, 2013). Group support systems generally have three major advantages above the traditional (oral) methods of hosting meetings. The absebce of order in expressing opinions is first advantage, as it promotes parallel communication and facilitates an efficient exchange with ideas. The absebce of necessity to take turns means that ideas or contributions can occur simultaneously and be available for all members to discuss. The second advantage is anonymity. The nature of electronic meetings held over GSS, which allows for anonymty, means that participants can make more open and unlimited contributions. The team members can also reveal better and unexplored ideas. The final unique asset of GSS-based meetings that overshadows traditional oral meetings is that data capturing and storing occurs automatically. This system involves taking less time, saving resources, and eliminating the tediousness of manually executing such tasks (Yearwood & Stranieri, 2012).

With regard to the above-presented findings, a decision-making process in an organization is more congruent with group thinking. Researchers have also indicated that successful implementation of GSS can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of group decision making through reducing the negative effects of collective problem solving and increasing the advantages of group collaboration (Hayward, 2010). Within a GSS setting, the possibility to manipulate visual aids, individual-based incentives, group size, communication mode, types of software tools, leadership roles, and incentives can enhance the quality of solutions significantly (Woltmann, 2009).

GSS and Efficient Leadership

A significant gap exists between the development of GSS and leadership in a virtual space (Huang et al., 2010). Organizations should modify traditional leadership strategies to adapt to a new business setting and take control of the employees’ engagement into a technology-based environment. Although the emergence of virtual world communication has become a common issue in a global environment, there is a major shortage of pertinent resources and tools that could integrate these new skills and experiences into. Virtual worlds can become the means of collaboration and communication as soon as managers and employees are able to manipulate digital devices representing their objectives (Goh & Wasko, 2010).

Leadership is an important condition for fostering GSS into traditional collaborative teams. Boughzala et al. (2012) noted that “Interpersonal and leadership dynamics in team collaboration are different than the real world” (p. 723). Since the members of e-meetings appear as avatars, they cannot use nonverbal communication as a tool for rendering and receiving. Facilitators can face difficulties in understanding the members’ perceptions and responses to collaborative processes. The IT environment also creates challenges for facilitators to control participants and ensure successful coordination, which can result in conflicts and miscommunication. The concerns are even more serious with regard to underestimating facilitators’ charismatic character in a virtual world. Leadership in a virtual world is another important aspect that researchers have insufficiently examined in research literature. To solve this problem, Boughzala et al. (2012) suggested improving leadership-team performance in case a leader substitute framework ensures a team’s collaboration context, including task orientation, environment, and performance. Under these circumstances, management will not prioritize the importance of leadership.

As soon as management removes leadership frameworks, management should create an alternative environment that should be as efficient as its former substitute. Trust, cooperation, and mutual agreement are among the main underpinnings for establishing GSS. Charles (2010) proposed a fresh and interesting approach to solving this problem through engaging virtual members in a game. Charles noted that “The nature of play is fundamentally distinct from work…. When we play, there may be a goal, but the goal is by no means the ends” (p. 23). The aim of playing is often reduced to entertainment and encouragement of participants to compete, interact, and communicate, with no pressure imposed on them. An approach based on games can become a remarkable solution to acting in a virtual environment.

Leadership Traits in Group Support Systems

Good leadership has the ability to elucidate the way to the objective, diminishing deterrents that avert the members from arriving at these objectives and augment the group’s fulfillment in accomplishing the objective (Kim, 2006). Leaders are capable of creating and upholding the connection between fulfillment and output of the group by using diverse authority styles for which the complexity of the errand could direct the viability (Kim, 2006). The leader must have the capacity to acclimate to distinctive programs and exercises and to test issues from diverse points of view while having authority over the available technology (Ready et al., 2004). Another point of contention is that the interactive teams might have a tendency to perform badly as individuals are likely to pledge their output to the people, who are at the bottom in giving output (Pissarra & Jesuino, 2005). It is a common knowledge that team members will not perform well simply due to the presence of a leader. Leaders must have good leadership qualities,perform better to set a good example and become role models (Kim, 2006).

To keep the efforts of the masses concentrated in one direction (i.e., achieving the goal), an efficient leadership approach is necessary. Without a leader, the efforts of the employees will be scattered and the motive will not be achieved (Kim, 2006). An efficient leader will instill motivation in the employees, makin sure that they will work as a team, and team efforts seldom fail. Efficient leaders can have a great impact on the employees. Organizations should employ leaders, who have the competence to motivate employees and lead them to follow business ethics. Spiro (2010) noted that “Even if senior management and employees embrace a code of ethics, someone needs to be put in charge of applying and updating it” (Spiro, 2010, para. 7).

Kim (2006) discovered teams that had a leader reported a larger amount of fulfillment with the decision process than teams that had no leader. Kim also discovered that parallel correspondence mode teams reported a more elevated amount of fulfillment with the decision process than the corresponding teams without one. Even the lowest ranked and no-expense e-cooperation instruments, where a leader sets up the meeting area and welcomes team members, tend to have this prospective drawback.

A portion of collaborative tools puts stress on the actions pertaining to decision making. These GSS, like the group systems, incorporate practical characteristics to underpin the methodologies fundamental to achieving an imparted team decision concerning a business issue or chance. Business administers other collaborative tools for offering informative content. These GSS, for example Google Groups, provide backup situations for e-cooperation with discussion teams and archive the details, but without the characteristics similar to those of standings and voting on options (Google, 2013).

Employees are adapting quickly to the team correspondence atmosphere with the rise of innovations, where a large portion of the e-coordinated effort devices are accessible at minimal cost (Mattison, 2011). This augmentation of innovation permits aggregate members to view one another and show feelings when using motion picture conferencing, sound, and content visits. These members have the capacity to appropriate a portion of the same profits that teams get when they participate in face-to-face conferences (Matsatsinis et al., 2005).

Leaders of conglomerations are extensively using the electronic medium to conduct meetings to augment the performance. In light of the fact that efficient leadership is the main criterion for the success of a group venture, it becomes imperative to analyze how the conduct and approach of leaders affect the teams using electronic systems for conferences. To ascertain this aspect, Kahai, Sosik, and Avolio, (2006) showed that:

  1. participants made more strong comments under a consultative manifestation of participative initiative than under commanding leadership;
  2. participants proposed more results and made fewer discriminating comments for a decently organized issue than for a tolerably organized issue;
  3. participative initiative was more helpful to the proposal of results for a reasonably organized issue, whereas authoritative leadership was more helpful for an equitably organized issue;
  4. frequency of result suggestions in turn influenced the group output and fulfillment.

While writing on any specific feature, innovation, or technology, it is important to view both the positive and the negative sides. Having considered all the positive aspects of the GSS, it is crucial to discuss the negative ones as well. Negative feedback regarding the GSS is minimal. Rather, researchers have pointed to the necessity to address the leadership issue. In one case, the GSS failed due to the oversight and incompetence of the leadership (Parent & Gallupe, 2001). An experiment conducted to ascertain the effect of GSS on meeting results showed that “facilitated groups experienced improved group processes and greater cohesion, whereas the GSS supported groups did not” (Anson, Bostrom, & Wynne, 1995, p. 189-208). The results of the experiment showed that the group helped by a facilitator showed better results than the group supported by the GSS.

Summary

The historical review of GSS-based decision-making procedures highlighted various related studies and identified present collaboration possibilities and potential GSS trends. The review indicated a considerable increase in the importance of GSS-based decision-making processes. The diversification of research on DSS resulted in numerous related research studies. With research studies expanding to include specific subjects such as KMDSS and data storing, the purpose of GSS may be unclear. After additional review, researchers might refine the studies in this specific topic to the structures that support some types of GSS.

The importance of GSS shows continuous expansion in related research studies. It is, therefore, important to expand the current GSS models to integrate potential areas including social media, Internet-based software that aids customer choices, and mobile technology that offer instant information management. Such potential aspects of DSS indicate the growing popularity of GSS in individual and business systems.

The increasing GSS research subjects provide an opportunity for information system related researches to concentrate on specific areas of interest and subsequently integrate the outcomes of individual studies to develop general GSS features. Considering the diverse potential decisions faced by individuals and organizations, the research possibilities focusing on identifying the relationship between human and technical systems is enormous. Also with the importance of flexible decision making within organizations in mind, research related to GSS may encompass both technical and social subjects.

The need to make decisions in different research areas is also obvious. It is constantly necessary to integrate conventional information system methods to GSS-based decision processes. The necessity for this integration also positions the area of information systems as a base fired and highlights the importance of an information systems research alliance beyond the area. The significance of the model does not relate solely to researchers concerned with GSS. All researchers interested in improving the decision making may consider the different classes to concentrate on the intricacies of technical, social, and behavioral support systems.

Managers may use this research approach to increase their knowledge of the complicated features of organizational decisions and to distribute resources to offer support that enables effective decisions. It is important for GSS research studies to constantly progress owing to the continuous viability of GSS, but it is essential to consider the history of the subject and the significance of previous research informing the modernization of GSS. This review contained an exclusive multigenerational perspective developed to inspire new information systems research and advancement and to highlight the significance of historical research in relation to imminent uses. These theories might allow employees to accept the novelties and adjust to a rapidly changing setting. Value creation in a technologically savvy setting increases performance and creates a competitive advantage over other organizations. The reviewed literature contained strong support for the methodology and research design selected to answer the research questions. Chapter 3 includes a discussion of the research method and design selected to help address the problem under study.

Methodology

Research Aim

This case study will involve exploring the insights and opinions of leaders and workers of DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia, on incorporating GSS in the organization and the way it affects the organization’s efficiency, especially in the area of decision making through analysis of individual interviews and the completion of questionnaires. The case study will involve collecting qualitative data and using qualitative techniques in data analysis such as thematic analysis. Judicious analysis of the qualitative data would provide insight into the significance of GSS in promoting efficiency among organizations such as the DHA.

Specifically, the purposes of the study are as follows:

  1. To define the key impacts, which the promotion of the GSS methods in the settings of a team has on the productivity of meetings;
  2. To locate the positive effects on the conflict solution process, which the GSS methods supposedly have in the setting of a specific team or a group of employees;
  3. To identify whether the GSS approach may possibly mitigate the negative effects of conflicts in a specific team;
  4. To identify whether the GSS approach ahs any effect on the increase in the overall performance of the members of a specific team (the DHHQ in Virginia in the case in point).

A research methodology defines the purpose of the research, how it proceeds, how to measure progress, and what constitutes success with respect to the objectives determined for carrying out the research study, as the research objective was to explore the consequences of integrating GSS on organizational efficiency through an analysis of individual interviews with the leaders of DHHQ, in Falls Church, Virginia, as well as answers to a questionnaire on using GSS by employees of the organization. The study will involve exploring the insights and opinions of leaders and workers of DHHQ on the incorporation of GSS in the organization and the ways it affects the organization’s efficiency, especially in the area of decision making through individual interviews and questionnaires. Chapter 3 includes discussions on the research method, data collection process, and appropriateness of the research design. The section on the data collection process includes an explanation of interview questions and the questionnaire. The chapter contains a description of the individual interviews analysis, the informed consent of participants, and the confidentiality of the research method in conjunction with an explanation of the validity and reliability of the instrument.

Research Method and Design Appropriateness

The study will be based on a qualitative approach in examining the case study of the DHA. The research method for the study will be a qualitative, multi-person, single embedded case study. Qualitative research allows an in-depth study of participants in their everyday settings (Simovic, Varga, & Oreski, 2012). While carrying out a case study can be viewed as an attempt to demonstrate the situational application of the GSS approach, it will, nevertheless, provide the effects of a practical application of the strategy in question. Therefore, the outcomes of the case study can be generalized to the point where they will become applicable to any workplace setting.

The qualitative research approach usually involves investigating the underlying reasons for certain phenomena to take place, the existing opinions on certain subjects, the geographical environment, or a phenomenon within a specific paradigm (Hyett, Kenny, & Dickson-Swift, 2014). Qualitative research helps in achieving a qualitative understanding of the nature of certain phenomance and motivations of the participants; in other words, it broadens the primary understanding. A small number of non-representative cases need to be considered for the study. In order to know peoples’ perception about a specific issue, a qualitative research needs to incorporate a data collection tool such as an unstructured questionnaire. Researchers attempt to discern meaning based on the importance individuals place on their own experiences (Merriam, 2009). Qualitative research is based on empirical inquiry through the acquisition and an analysis of experiences in a natural setting (Shank, 2006): the results depend on the process as much as on the data.

According to the principles of qualitative research, researchers determine themes, subjects, and patterns from multiple sources of triangulated data, including primary source documents, interviews, and observations (Hyett et al., 2014). The acquisition, the analysis and a proper rendition of data are vital (Neuman, 2003). With the delineated results, qualitative research provides a complex understanding of a problem (Creswell, 2007). The main paradigm of the intended qualitative case study research design concerns investigating the performance efficiencies associated with using the Defense Connect Online GSS platform. The focus of all themes, subjects, and patterns will be on the association between the Defense Connect Online GSS platform and communication efficiency in the settings of a company meeting.

Qualitative methods such as interviews are useful in yielding new insights on the subject matter in order to gain a deeper understanding of information (Robson, 2002; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Quantitative studies involve investigating causal determination, forecasts, and results generalization, whereas qualitative studies involve studying the clarification and identification of comparable circumstances (Ledderer, 2011). Qualitative research includes obtaining findings regarding a specific phenomenon of interest using qualitative terms (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Qualitative researchers search for a variety of perspectives (Glesne, 1999). In qualitative research, face-to-face interactions are the most distinctive feature and the basis for its most common problem (Nespor, 2012). The latter includes researchers’ involvement with the people that they study and the accompanying challenges and opportunities that such closeness brings.

The proposed study will concern a federal defense agency serving the medical needs of U.S. military personnel in the United States and around the world, whose members include those commissioned on active duty, reservists, and retired professionals. The DHA, formerly known as Tricare Management Activity, has adopted GSS. The proposed study combined with a statistical analysis of the changes triggered by the GSS implementation will involve an attempt to determine whether GSS improve the efficiency of the organization by analyzing the qualitative and quantitative implications Specifically, it will be necessary to evaluate the qualitative relationship between the key factors, i.e., the factors defining the efficacy of communication between the DHHQ members, and quantify them in order to compare their effects.

Leonard-Barton (1990) defined a study as an “in depth investigation comprising an oral, archival and secondary-based history of a past or current phenomenon and always dictates the terms of dissection and exploration” (p. 249). According to Tellis (1997), case studies rely on the extrapolation of findings because they involve examining a phenomenon in hopes of applying the findings to similar phenomena. Zivkovic (2012) contended the study often happens to lack clear methodological thoroughness that other research methods have because it does not presuppose the use of a formal protocol in conducting it and invites the possibility of a perceived obviousness of the results. Quantitative research will not be appropriate for the study, as social constructivism is necessary for this research (Šimović et al., 2012). The research questions are broad and the data collected will not be numeric (Creswell, 2007). Quantitative research is a method designed to study larger groups than in the present study and has limits as to the number of factors studied (Neuman, 2003). Quantitative researchers ask narrow questions and obtain measurable information on variables (Creswell, 2008).

Mixed-method studies combine qualitative and quantitative data analysis in a single study (Creswell, 2007). Such studies include statistical data and descriptions. A deep understanding of both qualitative and quantitative methods is necessary to perform this type of study (Creswell, 2007). The mixed method is not suitable for the present study because statistical measures and variables are a requirement in such studies.

Creswell (2007) acknowledged the existence of other forms of qualitative research, as well as mixed methodologies, and identified “narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study” as the five main research approaches. For the current study, only the five true approaches are under consideration. None of the first four methods is suitable for the study.

Narrative research is a written description of an event or series of events told in a chronological order (Pinnegar & Danes, 2006). Phenomenology requires firsthand experience with the phenomenon of the study (Thomas, 2011). Researchers of phenomenological studies often intimately examine human encounters that might involve love, hate, anger, grief, or any other deep emotion (Merriam, 2009). Although participants in the GSS study experienced emotion during the creation of the community of practice, depicting an intense emotional experience will not be the goal of the study. In grounded theory research, the goal is to create an original theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2007). This theory may act as the guide for forming a new practice or promoting further research (Corbin & Strauss, 2007). The study includes the advantages and disadvantages of implementing GSS technologies in organizations. However, it is not the purpose of the study to develop a new theory.

Ethnography is an expensive form of research that involves examining an entire cultural group (Creswell, 2008). This type of research is difficult and time consuming. Ethnography is the most appropriate methodology for the study. Case study research is appropriate because of the narrative data collected from the research participants. According to Merriam (2009), single embedded case studies contain a comprehensive case description, which makes them different from other types of qualitative research.

As far as the study in question is concerned, the qualitative research method was used, as the primary goal of the study was to research the [problem and locate the points of synapse between the variables instead of quantifying the research results. Indeed, a closer look at the specifics of the study will reveal that the retrieval of quantitative data is not the priority in the specified case; instead, the points of contact between the GSS approach and the enhancement of communication processes, redesign of the information management strategy and a change in the leadership style in the DSSQ headquarters must be located, which makes it quite obvious that the use of a qualitative study is crucial for the outcomes of the research. It is only with the qualitative design that the reasons for the GSS model and the factors that it exposes the DSSQ staff to may be detected, gathered and analyzed closely. Whereas the quantitative design would have obliged the author of the research to resort to a statistical analysis and the quantification of the data acquired, the qualitative one will allow for linking different variables to one another and explaining the effects that they have on the overall performance of the DSSQ staff.

In addition, the research in question can be characterized as inductive, seeing that it is primarily concerned with the generation of a new method of interpersonal communication within the office setting instead of proving the one that already exists. Particularly, the study in question attempts at promoting the GSS techniques as an efficient tool for solving information management issues and the related concerns, as well as facilitating a change in the leadership strategy and, therefore, altering the staff’s attitude towards the working process. In other words, the paper in question is aimed at proving that the GSS strategy use will encourage the head of the DSSQ to adopt a new leadership approach that will be based on motivating the employees.

Questionnaires were considered to be most appropriate tool for retrieving the information required for the research. The decision to use samples was dictated by the fact that the number of the respondents is quite humble and, therefore, the acquisition of detailed information can be afforded. In addition, in contrast to other types of data acquisition, the usage of questionnaires presupposes that a rather large amount of people can provide information to the researchers in an extremely expeditious and just as cost-effective manner. Seeing that the study requires that a relatively small amount of questions should be asked, it can also be assumed that the data acquisition process will take a relatively small amount of time. Thus, the specified data collection tool can be considered the most legitimate method of gathering information for the specified study. the fact that only ten questions are included into the questionnaire allows for distributing the latter among about twenty participants. A larger number of samples may make the information analysis process unnecessarily complicated, whereas an analysis of a smaller number of samples may return the results lacking in precision. The fact that the use of questionnaires was also considered a legitimate tool for data collection in previous researches with a similar design carried out by the author of this paper should also be brought up.

The last, but definitely not the least, the fact that the chosen methods of research align with its purposes and questions deserves to be mentioned.

Population and Sampling

The general targeted populations as respondents of this research are the employees of the DHA, which is the case of the study. A considerable number of managers and workers can effectively respond to the questions raised regarding the Defense Connect Online GSS communication platform. Through purposive sampling, the proposed research will involve sampling approximately 20 employees of the DHA, formerly known as Tricare Management Activity, with headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. The purposive method of sampling is appropriate because it enables researchers to select participants of the study based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria set at the outset of the study (Suri, 2011). The agency serves more than 9 million active and retired military persons and their family members across the United States and abroad (Evaluation of the TRICARE Program, 2012, p. 14).

The agency’s office at DHHQ, Falls Church, Virginia, has over 3,000 employees, including active-duty military members, civilians, and contractors who will comprise the population of the case study. Based on the target sample frame of the current study, a purposive sampling, which involves identifying and selecting participants who meet a certain criteria or profile, might enable the identification and selection of qualified participants (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Each leader and worker will represent the various directorates or divisions of the DHA. The study will indicate the identities of participants employed in the DHA, a U.S. government agency, as military, civilian, or contractor.

Upon receipt of the Institutional Review Board’s approval from University of Phoenix, the selected participants will have to meet the following criteria: (a) over the age of 18, (b) working at DHA, DHHQ as a leader or worker, and (c) active participation experience on GSS at the agency. Participants who can articulate ideas well might offer a range of positions on issues (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Upon receiving approval, the researcher will schedule the individual interviews analysis at the time most convenient for the participants and will e-mail the questionnaires. The questionnaire will contain the following questions:

  1. What skills and abilities should employees of DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia possess in order to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by the GSS environment?
  2. What are the main challenges for employees of DHHQ in adjusting to a computer-based environment?
  3. How can such dimensions as leadership, employee engagement, organizational learning, and team building benefit from the introduction of GSS at DHHQ?

Seeking informed consent from participants and approval for conducting research in the company premises are important steps. Participants will receive informed consent forms before any data collection begins. Sampling strategies in qualitative research are numerous (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Polkinghorne (2005) noted that a sample size from 10to 20 participants for qualitative research was appropriate. For the proposed study, the sample consisting of 20 employees of the DHA will be appropriate. The sampled participants will represent varying disciplines, as long as they possess relevant experience on the Defense Connect Online GSS communication platform.

Research Questions

The main research question posed by this study is as follows: What are the consequences of the integration of GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool in various directorate levels of the DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia?

However, the specified question can only be viewed as a very general question to be answered in the course of a research; apart from the issue in question, the study will also address certain details of the implementation of the specified approach in the DHHQ settings.

Question 1. Will the incorporation of the GSS system allow for reducing the amount of misunderstandings among the DHHS staff in the course of meetings and discussions?

Question 2. What are the effects that the GSS system has on the conflicts occurring among the staff; specifically, the possibility for reduction of such conflicts will be evaluated?

Question 3. Will it be necessary to figure out whether the GSS strategy will help cancel the negative effects that meetings have on the DHHQ staff? Specifically, the reduction of the impact of conflicts in the workplace setting with the help of the GSS approach will be looked into.

Question 4. Is there a possibility of using the GSS approach as the tool for increasing awareness concerning the DHHQ operations and the importance of productive information use and distribution?

Informed Consent

Informed consent is one way to ensure participants do not feel coerced into contributing to a study (Neuman, 2003). The researcher will require informed consent of participants in the research study. Creswell (2007) noted that acquisition of informed consent allowed research participants to partake while increasing the openness and honesty of responses. Informed consent also promotes ethical practices for the researcher (Shank, 2006). Ethical practices included proceeding with caution, avoiding harm, maintaining openness, and upholding honesty (Wimpenny & Savin-Baden, 2012). After the study receives approval by the Institutional Review Board, the earlier included contact participants will be informed through e-mail. Participants will receive information that includes an overview of the study (see Appendix A), including the purpose and nature of the study, along with a consent form for voluntary participation in an interview (see Appendix B).

Providing purpose and procedural tasks will ensure that each participant understands the purpose of the research, as well as their role in it. The purpose also includes a description of professional and personal contribution, which will help gain a deeper understanding of GSS. Prospective participants will sign the consent form and acknowledge participation in the study is voluntary and without reward, threat, or coercion. The participants will also understand, from the consent form, that personal information will remain confidential and withdrawal from the study will be acceptable at any time without risk of harm or repercussions. Each participant will receive a copy of the consent form, which includes researcher contact information. Participants will be able to contact the researcher in person, by e-mail, or by phone at any time. The letter of consent will also contain procedures for protecting participants’ confidentiality. The researcher will read the consent form and each participant will sign it voluntarily (see Appendix B). After the participants sign and return the consent forms to the researcher, communications will commence to arrange a location and time for the interview. The signed letters of consent will remain in the researcher’s office on file for 3 years from the date of study completion. Participation in this study is voluntary. If a participant chooses not to participate or to withdraw from the study at any time, he/she can do so without penalty or loss of benefit to themselves (see Appendix D).

Confidentiality in research studies is essential (Creswell, 2005) and is an important deliberation for the study. The informed consent document assures participants of confidentiality. For confidentiality and security reasons, only the researcher will have access to information identifying participants’ personal information. Electronic files of the interviews, transcribed interviews, and the related data will remain in an encrypted, password-protected folder on the researcher’s computer. All physical materials related to the participants will remain in a locked file cabinet in the researcher’s home office accessible only to the researcher. Destruction of all data for the study, including physical and electronic one, will occur 3 years after completion of the study (Hochstetler, 2009). To ensure participant anonymity, each participant will have a unique number assigned. The unique number will begin with the letters DE for DHA employees and will contain a number in corresponding order of interviews, beginning at 1; for example, Participant Number 11 will be DE11. The list of participant names and their numbers will remain on a flash drive and will remain locked in the same file cabinet as the other information for 3 years. The document will undergo reformatting procedures to ensure erasure of all information from the study. The study will comply with the International Human Subjects Research Requirements and uphold ethical principles of research (Creswell, 2008; Merriam, 2009). The researcher will erase all computer data from the hard drive and shred all physical material.

The highlighted features of GSS platforms support shorter and more productive meetings due to the simultaneous capturing of ideas, automated data recording, and specificity in the generation of ideas. The approximate percentage of time saved is more than 50% due to electronic facilitation requiring less preparation time for setting up meetings, saving more resources unlike hosting distant meetings, and generally welcomes more and better ideas. Another contributing factor in the efficiency of electronic meetings is satisfaction of the participants. This observation emerges from the fact that with more unlimited participation by the members, the entire process emerges as more satisfying.

Geographic Location

The geographical location for this study will be Falls Church, Virginia, at DHHQ. The DHA has seven divisions and more than 19 directorates, with many subdivisions and program areas serving all over the United States in military facilities and internationally. Most division and directorate key persons are in DHHQ. The intent of this study is to interview division and directorate employees. The DHHQ faculty Membership requirements include familiarity with GSS, new technology capabilities and work environment, and varying levels of experience. Access to location and participants is favorable and accessible to the researcher. The organization has over 3,000 employees, including active-duty military members, civilians, and contractors.

Data Collection

Data collection in research refers to the process of collecting data associated with the research inquiry from the identified participants for analysis and assessing the research phenomenon (Morse, 2011). The intended research will include a qualitative data collection methodology for the data collection procedure. The primary aim of qualitative research studies is to explain behaviors, ideas, and events from studied groups’ perspectives and ideologies (Savin-Baden & Major, 2013). Qualitative research studies facilitate valuable and in-depth investigations of the investigated data because the researched group’s description of the accuracy is responsible for a majority of the diversities in the issue of concern, which increases the feasibility of deriving data from participants’ perspectives.

Qualitative research design supporters insist on the potential for developing a theory through in-depth recording and analysis processes. Denzin and Lincoln (2011) noted qualitative research method tasks are capable of facilitating and exposing the understanding of what is under study. Qualitative research studies might offer complex signs of phenomena that are difficult to understand through quantitative methods, thereby demonstrating the efficiency of qualitative data for illuminating quantitative findings (Holstein & Gubrium, 2012). Supporters of qualitative research also indicate that applying a logical method restricts the study outcomes within an already existing theory, whereas an inductive method encourages goal achievement and new theory discovery (Mannay, 2010). The data experimenting procedure, notwithstanding if it applies qualitative or quantitative data, consists of different relationships between the research and the collected data. An advanced and developed research question will result in a more exposed collection of responses (Saladana, 2012).

Creswell (2008) noted participants could participate in any of several possible interview techniques or formats. The format in this research study will consist of open-ended, semi-structured, and unstructured questions (Creswell, 2008). The researcher will seek permission to conduct the study from the officer-in-charge of the DHA with a letter of request (see Appendix C). The letter will include an explanation of the objectives of the study and the methodology selected. The letter will also indicate that the study will include an individual interviews analysis conducted by the leaders of the organization, and staff within DHA and its departments will e-mail a questionnaire to the employees for completion. Upon receiving approval, the individual interviews will take place at the time most convenient for the participants.

The data collection process will begin by identifying the research participants within the targeted study population. Researchers of case study qualitative approaches seek to gain in-depth insight about a research problem through interviews with participants (Seidman, 2012). The main instruments intended for data collection are questionnaires designed in an open-ended technique to allow participants to give their own view of the account concerning the efficiency of the Defense Connect Online GSS platform in the DHA. Questionnaires are suitable data collection materials due to their perceived familiarity with respondents, ease in construction, ease in data analysis, and uncomplicated nature. Questionnaires generally gather extreme data within a short span of time via face to face interview, mail, email or telephone call whichever participants’ prepares.

Instruments Use

Individual interviews

The study will involve collecting data through a an individual interview approach. Participants will discuss the pros and cons of the given issue and come to a mutual understanding by way of discussions. The individual interviews deliberations will be electronically recorded, professionally transcribed. These transcriptions will be shown to the participants for review and revision, if necessary. Once the transcriptions are approved by the participants, the tapes will be kept in safe custody. In addition, semi-structured interviews or simply open-ended questionnaires will provide enough flexibility to interviewers and allow participants to expound on their answers. The Interviewers should control digressing to another topic so that they stay on the issue at hand (Buckley & Waring, 2013). Interviewers should make interviewees feel confident, relaxed, and encouraged to express their deepest thoughts about the subject under study but at the same time understand that there are certain expectations from them. The researcher will record and transcribe interviews verbatim for qualitative analysis. While giving interviews, interviewees might be biased due to various reasons such as reprimand by superiors and mockery by colleagues. The specified bias might affect the outcome of the interview. In order to reduce this particular risk, the participants will be given random numbers that will be known to them only. No participant will have the number of other participants. The tapes will also be numbered according to the numbers given to the participants. The recorded tapes will be kept in a safe locker and once the purpose is over (which might take about seven years), they will be destroyed in such a manner that no one can reuse them. The safe will be locked and the key will be in safe custody.

Winter (2000) contended participants’ answers to questions posed to them regarding their own experiences are enough, as long as they are truthful and considered valid (Elo, Kääriäinen, Kanste, Pölkki, Utriainen, & Kyngäs, 2014). According to Eisner and Peshkin (1990), “In the case of the human sciences it is the congruence of our text of understanding with the lived reality of persons” (pp. 97-98). Harmonization of understanding and reality is dependent on the ability of researchers to derive patterns from diverse themes, perceptions, feelings, and experiences (Keller & Heiko, 2013). In exploring the experiences of others, the best methodology is an interview, as it will give a vivid picture of participants’ perspectives and they will be the experts on the topic.

The individual interviews with DHA organizational leaders will be semi-structured with the researcher asking some questions and allowing such questions to be a springboard to open discussions.

Field Test

In order to establish the validity and minimize the errors of the questionnaire, a field test was conducted; the field test was carried out in an area that resembled the real field conditions. A panel of 3 experts was consulted for the test; such experts included managers, researchers, and sponsors. Others included in the field test were design specialists, interviewers and respondents. All the participants of the field test were given copies of the questionnaires and their opinion was sought. The suggested changes were incorporated in the questionnaires and the method to be adopted.

The questionnaire is provided below:

  1. Please share how much time you spend on real-time, face-to-face meetings where members are physically present in the same room (before and after the integration of GSS).
  2. What GSS do you use?
  3. Do you feel any difference between a GSS meeting and a usual decision making method?
  4. What are the effects of integrating GSS in your organization at different levels?
  5. Do you feel that GSS can prevent the negative effects of meetings on productivity?
  6. How much do you know about GSS and its use?
  7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using GSS?
  8. To what degree are e-collaboration tools used as a primary means of communication within a virtually supported team environment?
  9. How did the employees respond to the integration of GSS?
  10. What training program should be implemented to promote employee engagement, team building, and leadership?
  11. How does GSS overcome the gaps in spatial and temporal dimensions?
  12. How does GSS affect participants’ efficiency?
  13. What skills are required for a person to be able to use GSS?
  14. What challenges have you encountered in using GSS?
  15. How do GSS contribute to group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?
  16. What are your (stakeholders’) perceptions about the consequences of GSS integration on organizational efficiency?
  17. Would you recommend the integration of GSS in other organizations? Why or why not?

As it has been stressed above the specified questions have been administered to three key groups of respondents. The respondents can be considered experts in interview-based qualitative research, as the interviewers mentioned above are fully qualified for conducting the study of the specified design.

Questionnaires

Questionnaires will be suitable because they represent a versatile data-gathering method due to their affordability (Sharma & Pandey, 2013). Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2000) also praised the efficiency of questionnaires. The latter allow researchers to collect a significant amount of information in one attempt, rather than needing to conduct interviews for weeks. Gillham (2000) wrote that questionnaires make efficient use of the respondent’s time, because the survey participant can complete the questionnaire at a time that is convenient for them, and the survey process does not require the researcher and respondent to match free periods of time to conduct the research. Writing their remarks in the questionnaires might be useful in exploring the respondents’ insights that may not fit within the closed-ended question part of the questionnaire. The DHA employees will receive copies of the questionnaires with additional space for explanations to elaborate on their responses via e-mail. The researcher will likewise field-test the questionnaire and revise it as needed before distribution.

It is appropriate to use this research method because the researcher will gain insights directly from the participants. Respondents will answer the questionnaire items and then elaborate on their responses by writing their comments or remarks in the spaces provided. The researcher will analyze the percentage of responses for each item. The qualitative aspect of the research design will be the narrative remarks the participants will write to show their insights about the items asked in the questionnaire, as well as their responses in the individual interviews, which will involve an attempt to delve deeper into the issues of the questionnaire (see Appendix A).

Analysis of Data

The study will involve analyzing the data from the individual interviews qualitatively. The analysis of the data derived from participants’ responses will require the use of the NVivo software. Leech and Onwuegbuzie (2011) noted that NVivo is qualitative software that queries themes, pictures, and images, coded in the survey, and analyzes the data effectively by establishing the existence of certain patterns. NVivo is content analysis software that helps researchers identify keywords within transcribed data (Buckley & Waring, 2013). The analysis of the interviews and questionnaires will reveal key themes in the GSS perceptions of experiences related to the consequences of the integration of GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool.

The proposed study will comply with ethical standards and considerations involved when conducting research with human participants. The head of the DHA will receive a letter of consent to conduct the study with the DHA personnel. The researcher will ensure the confidentiality of information to establish the participants’ trust. Participation will be nonobligatory, and participants may withdraw at any time.

Organization and Clarity

The aim for the proposed study is to explore the consequences of integrating GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool in various directorate levels of the DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia. The function of the DHA is to enhance martial activities. Employees at the DHA also ensure the implementation of policy as distributed by the assigned bodies and control inpatient activities and their sub-clinics designated to the DHA. The study will be conducted in accordance with a case study approach. A field study will increase the reliability of the research results (Yin, 2009). The second strategy that strengthens reliability will be the use of interviews with open-ended questions.

Limitations of Study

Among the key limitations, a rather restricted amount of participants must be mentioned as the most obvious obstacle in retrieving accurate and, most importantly, objective research results. Indeed, aside from the fact that the qualitative research design does not offer much room for any elements of a mathematical analysis, the use of interviews presupposes facing major time constraint an, therefore, having quite few people to include in the data retrieval process. Herein the lack of objectivity lies. Moreover, there is a possibility that not all research participants are completely honest in providing information to the researcher. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the integration of a vast data analysis allows for reducing the amount of errors to a minimum.

Chapter Summary

This chapter contained a discussion of all details pertinent to carrying out the study, including the research objectives, research problem, participants, instruments, and the actual procedures to follow until the moment when analysis begins on the data derived. Qualitative researchers explore, describe, and interpret a specific phenomenon and seek to answer the how, what, and why questions (Creswell, 2008). Qualitative researchers collect large amounts of non-numerical data that consist of word or text data from the sample (Creswell, 2008; Gelo, Braakmann, & Benetka, 2008). Qualitative researchers use several design types, such as a case study, a grounded theory, ethnography, field research, and a phenomenological study (Creswell, 2008). The optimum research design for the proposed study will be studying participants’ personal views, instances, and events for an in-depth examination of a specific issue (Gelo et al., 2008).

The chapter contained discussions on research method, design appropriateness, appropriateness of a case study to the research study, and the procedures for data collection. The data collection process will consist of interview notes for exploring personal views, events, and instances (Cooper & Schindler, 2006; Creswell, 2008). Chapter 3 also included a description on the procedures for data analysis, such as the process of transcribing the text and deconstructing the text, which involved creating categories, and ethical considerations. Chapter 4 will incorporate the detailed results of the study.

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Appendix A

Interactive Survey

Please complete the questionnaire with careful consideration of how you regard the integration of Group Support Systems (GSS) at work. Please write a brief explanation/clarification in the space provided for each number. You are free to expand the space for your explanation if needed. Kindly explain in detail.

Questions Comments
  1. In what way has GSS been helpful in facilitating our working assignment tasks?
  1. Which special skills and abilities are required the use of GSS?
  1. Am I favorable to being reached via GSS wherever I am to stay connected to work, and why?
  1. Do I prefer GSS to be turned off outside my work hours, and why?
  1. In what way have GSS been instrumental in keeping harmonious relationships with my colleagues?
  1. Why are GSS helpful in coming up with decisions for the organization quickly?
  1. In what way the use of GSS helps save time and effort?
  1. What changes in education, training, and roles and responsibilities distribution are sufficient to use GSS in my organization?
  1. Does the length of employment at DHA help to understand GSS better, and why?
  1. In what way does the hierarchy in my DHA makes a difference in the use of GSS?
  1. What are the key cultural or diversity effectiveness for using GSS in my organization?

Appendix B

Signed Organization Inform Consent

Informed Consent: Participants 18 years of age and older Dear DHA Employee.

My name is XX and I am a student at the University of X working on a doctoral degree in Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership/Information Systems and Technology (DM/IST). I am doing a research study entitled “a case study of The Defense Health Agency (DHA): The significance of group support systems”. The purpose of the research study is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online or any other systems as a Group Support Systems (GSS) communication tool in various directorate levels of the DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia.

Your participation will involve presenting truthful and straightforward perceptions and lived experiences of using GSS in your organization. The expected duration of participation is approximately 30-60 minutes. Your participation in this study is voluntary. If you choose not to participate or to withdraw from the study at any time, you can do so without penalty or loss of benefit to yourself. The results of the research study may be published but your identity will remain confidential and your name will not be disclosed to any outside party.

In this research, there are no foreseeable risks to you.

Although there may be no direct benefit to you, a possible benefit of your participation is an opportunity to offer a valuable service in sharing personal experiences with GSS integration. If you have any questions concerning the research study, please call me at Phone: 571-225-XXX or email: [email protected] For questions about your rights as a study participant, or any concerns or complaints, please contact the University of X via phone at 1-866-766-XXXX.

As a participant in this study, you should understand the following:

  1. You may decide not to be part of this study or you may want to withdraw from the study at any time. If you want to withdraw, you can do so without any problems.
  2. Your identity will be kept confidential through coding.
  3. Pryalal Karmakar, the researcher, has fully explained the nature of the research study and has answered all of your questions and concerns.
  4. If interviews are done, they may be recorded. If they are recorded, you must give permission for the researcher, Pryalal Karmakar, to record the interviews. You understand that the information from the recorded interviews may be transcribed. The researcher will develop a way to code the data to assure that your name is protected.
  5. Data will be stored in a secure and locked area. The data will be held for a period of three years, and then destroyed.
  6. The results of this study may be published.

“By signing this form, you agree that you understand the nature of the study, the possible risks to you as a participant, and how your identity will be kept confidential. When you sign this form, this means that you are 18 years old or older and that you give your permission to volunteer as a participant in the study that is described here.”

() I accept the above terms. () I do not accept the above terms. (CHECK ONE)

Signature of the interviewee _____________________________ Date _____________

Signature of the researcher ______________________________ Date _____________

Appendix C

Permission Letter

  • The Officer-in-Charge
  • Defense Health Agency
  • Falls Church, VA

Dear Sir/ Madam:

I am a student of University of XX, currently completing my degree in Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership/Information Systems and Technology (DM/IST). My dissertation is on the consequences of the integration of Group Support Systems (GSS) on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool.

I am aware that your organization has been using GSS. I am interested in learning how their use has affected efficiency in your organization, especially in terms of time management and decision making. In this regard, I am seeking your consent to disseminate a simple questionnaire (see attached) to your employees as well as conduct a group interview with you and other organizational leaders to discuss the effects of GSS on your organization at your most convenient time.

I hope you will allow me to conduct my study with your participation. Please contact me at (contact details) to let me know of your decision or any concerns.

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Sincerely yours, ____________________________

Appendix D

Informed Consent Form

Informed Consent: Participants 18 years of age and older Dear DHA Employee.

My name is XXX and I am a student at the University XX working on a doctoral degree in Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership/Information Systems and Technology (DM/IST). I am doing a research study entitled “a case study of a defense health agency: The significance of group support systems”. The purpose of the research study is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSS on the impact of Defense Connect Online as a GSS communication tool in various directorate levels of the DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia.

Your participation will involve presenting truthful and straightforward perceptions and lived experiences of using GSS in your organization. The expected duration of participation is approximately 30-60 minutes. Your participation in this study is voluntary. If you choose not to participate or to withdraw from the study at any time, you can do so without penalty or loss of benefit to yourself. The results of the research study may be published but your identity will remain confidential and your name will not be disclosed to any outside party.

In this research, there are no foreseeable risks to you.

Although there may be no direct benefit to you, a possible benefit of your participation is an opportunity to offer a valuable service in sharing personal experiences with GSS integration. If you have any questions concerning the research study, please call me at xxxxxxxxxxxx or [email protected] For questions about your rights as a study participant, or any concerns or complaints, please contact the University xxxx via email at [email protected]

As a participant in this study, you should understand the following:

  1. You may decide not to be part of this study or you may want to withdraw from the study at any time. If you want to withdraw, you can do so without any problems.
  2. Your identity will be kept confidential through coding.
  3. Pryalal Karmakar, the researcher, has fully explained the nature of the research study and has answered all of your questions and concerns.
  4. If interviews are done, they may be recorded. If they are recorded, you must give permission for the researcher, Pryalal Karmakar, to record the interviews. You understand that the information from the recorded interviews may be transcribed. The researcher will develop a way to code the data to assure that your name is protected.
  5. Data will be stored in a secure and locked area. The data will be held for a period of three years, and then destroyed.
  6. The results of this study may be published.

“By signing this form, you agree that you understand the nature of the study, the possible risks to you as a participant, and how your identity will be kept confidential. When you sign this form, this means that you are 18 years old or older and that you give your permission to volunteer as a participant in the study that is described here.”

() I accept the above terms. () I do not accept the above terms. (CHECK ONE)

Signature of the interviewee _____________________________ Date _____________

Signature of the researcher ______________________________ Date _____________

Appendix E

Interview Transcript

Note: the interview was transcribed by the researcher’s assistant.

What is the effect of individual interviews on the staff’s performance and overall output?

Traditionally, additional motivation tools are required for enhancing the staff performance. People need to realize that their work is recognized in order to increase their input and improve their performance. Therefore, our organization uses interviews as the means to retrieve information concerning the staff satisfaction rates and identify the problems that the staff members encounter in the course of their daily routine.

How is a decision reached during an individual interview?

Seeing that interviews often predispose addressing problem issues, such as the conflicts that staff members are prone to having in the workplace, the decision is being reached with the help of applications of efficient conflict solving strategies, as well as different negotiation tools. Particularly, the power of compromising needs to be mentioned as the key to reaching decisions in the course of an individual interview.

How do GSS meetings overcome the spatial and temporal dimensions?

Unfortunately, even personal interviews may trigger the outcomes that leave much to be desired in terms o their efficacy and the percentage of useful information retrieved. At this point, GSS meetings deserve to be mentioned. I must admit it has been quite recently that our company [name of the company taken out of the interview] resorted to the GSS approach; much to my amazement, the introduction of the specified method allowed for enhancing the overall performance of the employees.

How do GSS meetings contribute to group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?

It seems that the GSS approach helps the staff discuss the issues that they indicate in personal interviews as causing conflicts in an open and direct manner. As a result, the premises for conflicts or misunderstandings are removed from the framework of the company’s operations in their entirety.

Appendix F

Questionnaire

What skills and abilities should employees of DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia possess in order to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by the GSS environment?

Insert your answer here: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the main challenges for employees of DHHQ in adjusting to a computer-based environment?

Insert your answer here: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How can dimensions such as leadership, employee engagement, organizational learning, and team building benefit from the introduction of GSS at DHHQ?

Insert your answer here: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Appendix G

Questionnaire Results

What skills and abilities should employees of DHHQ in Falls Church, Virginia possess in order to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by the GSS environment?

The employees should be capable of using electronic databases, have basic computer literacy, and communicate with customers efficiently.

What are the main challenges for employees of DHHQ in adjusting to a computer-based environment?

Developing new skills concerning the use of software and managing electronic data seems to be the greatest challenge at present.

How can dimensions such as leadership, employee engagement, organizational learning, and team building benefit from the introduction of GSS at DHHQ?

Efficient leadership approach may enhance the process of knowledge and skills acquisition among the staff.