Improving Efficiency in Organizations

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 10
Words: 7948
Reading time:
28 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

Efficient organisations are vigilant in finding ways to improve their efficiency as a group. For example, too frequent meetings are considered a major source of conflict and discontent among employees (Crowe, Cresswell, Robertson, Huby, Avery, & Sheikh, 2011). Hosley (2010) discovered that the productivity of a firm largely depends on the degree of responsiveness within the company structure. The leadership structure makes decisions in the firm. Different decision-making stakeholders want to ensure a higher degree of accuracy on the solutions provided, which is possible through enhancing cohesiveness within the organisation (Cahalane et al., 2010).

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Recent developments in addressing team ineffectiveness use technology to meet the growing needs and responsibilities of organisational members (Lee and Wellman, 2012). One revolutionary strategy that many organisations have adopted is the Group Support System (GSS).

Group Support System (GSS) is a set of approaches, technology and software whose primary function lies in utilising techniques that focus on improving communication and decision making (Crowe et al.). In this respect, introducing GSS settings can contribute significantly to value management and develop a new powerful network, which can shape ethical and moral codes (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). Because little connection has been revealed between GSS approaches and organisational efficiency in terms of value creations, specific emphasis should be placed on examining the related researches supporting this assumption.

The development of computer-based group support can provide new opportunities for organisational development and team building (Hayward, 2012). It is important to deliberate on the strategic issues that will prevail in terms of the needs of the organisational development. Such a perspective allows managers to identify the pertinent information that is important for choosing the appropriate systems for sustainable development of an organisation. In addition, such knowledge creates further assistance in improving a GSSs Group Support System to ensure efficient measures (Niederman et al., 2008).

It is important to use a consistent operational network within an organisation (Kadushin, 2012). This improves the overall structure of an organisation and establishes fixed norms, values, and standards of behaviour (Barnett, 2011). There is potential for new methods of interaction. Such methods may result from the integration of Internet, emerging technologies, social media-based group work (Hua and Wellman, 2010). These, alongside the exploding growth currently experienced in communication, lead to new and amazing ways of collaborating (Lu, Wang, Xing, Yao, & 2010). Chapter 1 discusses the problem, purpose and method of the proposed qualitative research study. The aim is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings.

Background of the Study

Group Support Systems creates benefits for some organisations because they introduce significant improvements at different levels of management (Chandra et al., 2010). In a globalised setting, new decision-making models have been invented to adjust to a virtual environment (Turban et al., 2011). While evaluating the efficiency of group meetings beyond the virtual environment, inattentiveness, lack of focus, and unawareness of the topic of discussion can lead to inadequate decisions. This lack of attention to detail is of particular concern to the action planning approaches (Bakker et al., 2011).

Most organisations spend a considerable amount of time on meetings rather than the actual tasks and goals needed to be achieved (Crowe et al., 2011). Inefficient distribution of time and resources lead to a decrease in organisational effectiveness. Hence, meetings should be kept short so that workers can concentrate more on the action instead of discussion (Bessiere et al., 2009).

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The integration of technology supported systems into a collaboration model of an organisation can facilitate the prediction of performance and productivity outcomes (Eschenbrenner et al., 2008). In fact, 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 et al., 2010). In addition, the development of technologically advanced settings can allow organisations to sustain a competitive advantage of over other organisations which are less concerned with innovation and change (Owens et al., 2011).

However, despite the fact that introducing a powerful computer-based approach to group work is beneficial, little research has been conducted on the role of GSSs in value creation and development of new standards, norms and ethics contributing to the efficiency of an organisation (Estrada, 2011). This is particularly important for such aspects as leadership, team building, employee engagement and organisational learning (Huang et al., 2010).

Problem Statement

Traditional conduct of meeting, conferences, and projects has been premised on face-to-face communication and constant interaction between group members. Indeed, the presence of all the participants facilitates the generation of ideas and develops a powerful framework for further discussion (Andres, 2002). Introduction of technology, therefore, widens the opportunities for alternative measures in exchanging ideas in case face-to-face meetings are impossible (Richey et al., 2012). Constant communication and possibility of instant messaging is a step forward to an advanced and efficient development of ideas and decisions.

The problem to be addressed by the study is that most of the meetings held by boards of directors are not efficient in terms of time and task orientation. Within the context of human resource management, the meetings tend to take place more regularly, consuming time and money (Richey et al., 2012). Ineffective teamwork and communication in such cases further waste company time and effort.

In this respect, Niederman et al (2008) state that the information technology domain of such organisations, specifically GSS, may not be maximised in creating a useful, predictable or even reputable improvement of meeting the outcomes of the organisation. Hence, this study explores the wide possibilities of GSS in terms of optimising efficiency in organisational meetings as well as the constraints in its implementation. It will also investigate GSS’s advantages and disadvantages at various directorates’ level of the Defence Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia.

The significance of the study addresses the re-evaluation of approaches to holding a meeting, including devices and media platforms for information transmission, the structure of group projects, and sequence of settled tasks. Normally, GSS develops improved cohesiveness within the organisational group. It also helps to create ideas and agendas that are consistent with normal organisational traditions through the decision-making process.

However, accessibility of GSS may minimise employees’ engagement and willingness to participate in online meetings because virtual collaboration can lead to decreasing awareness of the importance of the event (Bose, 2003). The success of virtual collaboration depends on the employees’ position. It is purposeful to define the major challenges of technology integration, as well as outline how leadership, employees’ engagement, team building and organisational learning can be redeveloped to fit in the requirements of GSS settings.

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Briefly, the main research question posed by this study is “What are the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA.?”

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of the proposed qualitative study is to explore the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA. The research design is based on an exploratory study. This design is appropriate, since it will enable the researcher to collect individual responses from the participants. The interview questions are open-ended; and participants’ responses will be analysed individually. These interview responses will then be compared with archived organisational performance results prior to and after the introduction of the GSSs in DHHQ’s communication model.

Specifically, the purposes of the study are enumerated as follows:

  1. To define the degree of organisation’s readiness to implement GGSs to a traditionally structured environment;
  2. To assess whether the application of GSSs will be a factor in the prevention of negative effects of meetings may pose to productivity;
  3. To understand how GSS application will contribute to better levels of motivation, satisfaction and communication amongst members of the organisation.

Significance of the Study

As noted by Webne-Behrman (2008), the term group process refers to the procedures implemented by closely working member of an organisation to come up with viable solutions to common organisational problems. Kim (2006) stated that group processes enable leaders to develop interventional measures that can be applied to change the less desirable attributes showcased by different members of an organisation. Organisation theory views it as a group of people who work together to accomplish set goals and objectives (Cusella, 2009). From this description, it can be argued that groups play a pivotal role towards the success of any organisation (Hoffman & Parker, 2006). Research will set out to further our understanding of this theory and the applicability of GSSs in an organisational setting.

The concept of GSSs is relatively new. GSSs are a promising vehicle for better managing groups (Wilson, et al., 2010). The study of GSS as an aid to group decision-making in organisations is important to organisational researchers for practical and scientific reasons (DeSanctis and Gallupe, 1987; Huber et al., 1993; Wilson, et al., 2010). Elfvengreen (2008) asserted that GSSs provide an avenue through which meetings can be held without necessarily wasting valuable time and employees’ productivity. A gap exists between the significance of GSSs and their applicability in resolving productivity issues that stem from ineffective meetings (Kilgour, 2010).

Much of the GSSs research published to date does not report the configuration specifics of GSS: the exact instructions given to the group, the guidelines, constraints and rules which they worked by and the step-by-step mechanics of how their work proceeded (Briggs, Vreede, and Nunamaker, 2003; Santanen, 2005; Niederman, 2008).

However, there is a significant amount of documented literature regarding teamwork and group dynamics, but there is little information on the effects of GSSs in improving meetings and group efficiency. In this study, GSSs and group dynamics will be explored first. Secondly, the structure of the GSS will be analysed, where its framework in an organisational context will be discussed. Further, the usefulness and significance of GSS to an organisation will be explored by emphasising its advantages and limitations.

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This study will mainly focus on the role of leader in facilitating meetings and group activities through the integration of GSS in an organisational context where this research will enable leaders in organisational settings understand: (i) the objective of Group Support Systems, (ii) how meetings should be designed to support the organisational strategic objectives, (iii) how to increase meetings effectiveness through GSS and, (iv) understand the dynamics of comprehensive Group Support System and how it promotes teamwork, commitment and motivation among employees.

Communication could be the most important tool in an organisational environment (Gatti, 2011). This is the reason why current and past research studies have focused on different areas of communication for organisational performance (Gatti, 2011). Understanding GSSs based communication may contribute as a means for improved strategist within business organisations for growth and development. Since GSSs trends show positive growth (Boughzala, Vreede, & Limayem, 2012), it is necessary to understand how they may be effectively applied. The results of this research could be used as an indicator of how effective GSSs are in business organisations. The responses to the research questions could also serve as a mean of understanding the efficiency of GSSs in organisations.

Nature of the Study

The nature of this study is more of an exploratory research, therefore it will employ a qualitative research approach Qualitative research studies generate data that produce rich, comprehensive illustration concerning why individuals behave in specific ways, and the way these individuals feel about their behaviours. Since this study will focus on understanding the performance of individuals in relation to their exposure to GSSs based communication tools, it will be important to investigate the individual perception and acceptance of these GSSs for communication.

Qualitative research data will help the researcher gain a more detailed view of the individuals’ acceptance of this system of communication. While a quantitative research approach may also provide analysable results, it will be difficult to use quantitative research methods to gain a detailed picture of the individuals’ perspectives.

An exploratory study focusing on Defence Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) with headquarters located in Falls Church, VA, will be used to derive qualitative and analysable data. This organisation is a federal defence agency serving the medical needs of the country and worldwide, USA military personnel who are commissioned and non-commissioned on active duty, reservist and retired professionals. This organisation will be used for the exploratory study due to the researcher’s proximity and the inclusion of GSSs in the communication model used by the organisation.

Primary information would come from the leaders and employees of the organisation. Their respective views regarding the importance of GSSs in their interaction with colleagues, subordinates and supervisors will serve as tangible qualitative data for the analysis. The study will first seek to explore Group Support Systems as well as group dynamics within an organisational context. In addition, the importance and usefulness of GSS to the organisation will be a point of focus by exploring the limitations and the strengths of the system. Examination of the generated qualitative data will be based on a content analysis of the participants’ responses to the different open-ended questions included in the research study. Conclusions will then be drawn based on the outcome of the qualitative data analysis.

To summarise, the research will involve a content analysis of qualitative data. This data will be gained from the responses of leaders and employees of GHHQ to an open-ended questionnaire. The questionnaire probes the participants’ perceptions of GSSs based communication applied in their organisation. The outcome of the questionnaire analysis will inform the researcher’s conclusion of how GSSs are used by organisations to improve communication.

Research Questions

The main purpose of the study is

  • to define the degree of organisation’s readiness to implement GSSs to a traditionally structured environment,
  • to assess whether the application of GSSs will be a factor on the prevention of negative effects meetings may pose to productivity;
  • to understand how GSS application will contribute to better levels of motivation, satisfaction, communication amongst members of the organisation.

To understand these dimensions, the questions presented below should be answered:

  1. How do GSSs facilitate tasks within the organisation?
  2. Do GSSs facilitate all tasks within the organisation?
  3. What skills and abilities are necessary for GSS use?
  4. How easy is it to use GSSs?
  5. Do GSSs allow keeping access remotely connected to work?
  6. Do GSSs have a negative effect on workers’ social life?
  7. Do GSSs promote encourage harmonious relationship between employees?
  8. Do GSSs assist workers and leaders in coming up with decisions for the company quickly?
  9. Do GSSs save time and effort?
  10. Do GSSs help improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness?

When it comes to the analysis of data, survey and study results are crucial in accurate measuring of the contribution to the group dynamics, commitment, motivation and trust.

Research Design

The exploratory study will employ focus group discussions with the organisation’s leaders and survey questionnaires with the employees.

Focus Group Discussions

Focus Group Discussion shall be conducted with the leaders (directors, supervisors, etc.) regarding their use of GSS in arriving at organisational decisions. The focus group discussion will encompass the following questions:

  1. To what degree e-collaboration tools are used as a primary means of communication within a virtually-supported team environment?
  2. What training programmes should be implemented to promote employee-engagement, team building, and leadership?
  3. How do GSSs overcome the spatial and temporal dimensions?
  4. How do GSSs contribute to the group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?

Survey Questionnaires

Survey Questionnaires shall be disseminated to the employees via email about their views and insights of GSS use. Such questionnaires will find out the following:

  1. What skills and abilities should employees possess to adjust to the new e-collaboration tools proposed by GSS environment?
  2. What are the main challenges of adjusting to computer-based environment?
  3. How can such dimensions as leadership, employees’ engagement, organisational learning and team building benefit from the introduction of GSSs?

A thorough literature review, covering all elements related to Group Support Systems, will serve as secondary sources of information.

Conceptual Framework

According to the organisational theory, a company is presented as a group of individuals connected by specific objectives, mission, and statement (Cusella, 2009). This theory can also be applied to understand the aspects of efficient decision-making and problem solving processes (Koan, 2011). The framework also relates to the execution of the organisation’s tasks, improving the satisfaction of all stakeholders and enhancing productivity. This is the study of the organisational processes (Cusella, 2009).

To enhance the understanding of how technology can promote organisational welfare, specific attention should also be given to the unified theory of acceptance (Brown et al., 2010). According to this theory, the role of GSS is confined to integration of technology acceptance and group collaboration. As soon as individuals adjust to a new environment, they will be able to understand what steps could be taken to transfer from a traditional communication model to a virtually-based environment. Readiness to change and accept novelties, therefore, is a priority. Appropriate tools and training programmes are important for manipulating employee’s motivation (Pittinsky, 2009).

Acceptance theories are pertinent for understanding what stages employees should undergo to make a successful transition from traditional to a modern way of communication and collaboration. Along with organisational theories, the acceptance theory can allow manager to understand how technological gap can be fulfilled, as well as what potential benefits they can receive from this adoption.

The theory of organisation shows that an organisation is a group of people working together in a bid to accomplish certain set objectives and goals (Cusella, 2009). With this description, it is possible to argue that groups are vital as far as organisation’s success is concerned. The given research will be instrumental in understanding the organisation theory and how the GSSs are applicable within an organisational setting.

The implementation of GSS for decision making has repeatedly been researched by different scholars. The results of this research will contribute to the theoretical field especially with regard to the inclusion of technology for group decision making. This study will focus on identifying how GSSs assist workers and leaders to make decisions that are based on the perspective of an entire group. These decisions are made quickly, through the consultation of numerous research materials.

The literature review session of the research presents a historical literature overview of different based on GSS, in relation to the theoretical framework of communication based decision-making.

Definitions

GSSs stand for Group Support Systems. These tools support group processes that include brainstorming, voting and group writing. GSSs are information systems that aim to make group meetings more productive and enhance the communication, deliberations and decision-making of groups by offering electronic support for a variety of meeting activities (Vreede & Muller, 1997). Through GSSs, individuals are able to create innovative concepts, understand these concepts, categorise them and assess them via diverse voting methods. Groups can apply GSSs to engage in project assessments, methodological planning, development and evaluation of work flows, group development, and crisis management.

Assumptions

  • Group challenges can be associated with leadership approaches to enhance collaborative group. This assumption is based on the identified importance of collaboration for effective leadership. Different research studies have explained the significance of collaboration for effective leadership (Boughzala, de Vreede, & Limayem, 2012). Thus, it is assumed that associating group challenges with collaborative leadership will yield group collaboration, hence effective decision making.
  • Any leadership approaches can have both advantages and disadvantages. This assumption is based on the understanding that subordinates have different backgrounds and respond differently when faced with challenges. Thus, the same leadership style that motivates one follower may not motivate the other.
  • The negativity is the biggest challenge that needs to be addressed by the staff members who are responsible for these collaborative efforts. This is based on the rationale that such efforts entail both formal and informal aspects. Therefore, the variations in people’s willingness to interact with workplace rivals may result in negativity.
  • The theory of intergroup leadership is meant to address leadership in any collaborative organisation. This assumption forms the theory deduction. If GSSs leadership for decision involves a group of leaders collaborating to make a decision, then these leaders have formed a collaborative organisation.
  • The role of a manager of an organisation lies in developing new frameworks that can simplify the process of accommodation to a computer-based system.

Scope of the Study

This study will explore the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHA, Falls Church, VA. The study also aims to provide better understanding of how a new collaboration setting can contribute to the productivity and performance of an organisational team. In addition, the study will evaluate whether the GSSs application can compensate the challenges of virtual communication. Concepts such as leadership, organisational learning, and employees’ engagement shall be reassessed to suit new dimensions of success for motivating and increasing job satisfaction among the employees.

The population of this study includes the 10 leaders and 10 workers of the Defence Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) with headquarters (DHHQ) located in Falls Church, VA. This agency serves more than 9 million active and retired military person and their family members across the USA and abroad (Tricare Management Activity, 2011, p. 17). The agency’s office at DHHQ, Falls Church, Virginia location has over 3000 employee including active duty military members, civilians and contractors.

Based on the target population for the current study, a purposive sampling, which involved identification and selection of participants who met a certain criteria or profile, enabled the identification and selection of qualified participants for the study (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). The study will include confirmed identities of study participants employed in the U.S.A. Government agency the DHA as a military, 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:

  • over the age of 18;
  • Working at DHA, DHHQ as a leader or worker
  • Actively participation experience on GSSs at the agency.

Participants who can articulate ideas are expected to offer a range of opinions on the issues (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Upon getting approval, the focus group discussion will be scheduled at the time most convenient to the participants while the questionnaires will be emailed to the Human Resource department for dissemination to the employees. Sampling strategies in qualitative research are numerous (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Polkinghorne (2005) stated a sample size of 1 to 20 participants for qualitative research is appropriate. For this study, the sample size consists of 10 leaders and 10 workers of the DHA employees. Sample participants represented varying disciplines.

Limitations

Because the integration of technological systems is a relatively new phenomenon, estimation of its successful adaptation to the present environment can be ambiguous. In addition, the study of only one organisation does not provide a full picture of all challenges. Information gathered from the respondents of the focus group discussion and the survey questionnaires are delimited to their views and although they may represent the views of their own unit, the conclusion will not be generalised to the whole population of organisations that adopted GSSs.

Delimitations

Despite the emerged contingencies and limitations, the given research will provide a systematic evaluation of existing studies dedicated to the analysis of various skills, experiences and models that are necessary for enhancing efficiency and reliability of collaboration, organisational learning and employees’ participation (Smith & McKeen, 2011). In this respect, specific emphasis should be placed on the role of information technologies into sustaining and developing new collaboration models.

Summary

In this chapter, an overview of GSSs is provided and how it may affect the effectiveness of an organisation. It also presented the research problem that this paper will study and the methodology that will be employed for this qualitative research. The subsequent Chapter 2 will discuss a thorough review of the literature on GSS and organisational efficiency. Chapter 3 will focus on the methodology that this study will employ including how data will be analysed.

The fourth chapter will present the findings of the study derived from the focus group discussions and survey questionnaires and interpret it. Finally, the fifth and last chapter will provide the conclusions and recommendations of the study. These recommendations will be drawn from a careful application of the methodological approach described in the third chapter of this research.

The objective of the research study made the qualitative method preferable to the quantitative method. The data necessary for this study will not be derived through closed end questions characteristic to quantitative studies. For this study, the sample size consists of 10 leaders and 10 workers of the DHA employees. Data will be collected through open end questions and analyzed using Nvivo Software. Chapter 4 will present results of the research study in the form of common sentences, and paragraphs of content analysis results.

Methodology

This study will explore the insights and opinions of leaders and workers of DHHQ in Falls Church, VA on the incorporation of GSS in the organisation and how it affects the organisation’s efficiency especially in the area of decision-making through focus group discussions and the completion of survey questionnaires.

Specifically, the purposes of the study are enumerated as follows:

  1. To define the degree of organisation’s readiness to implement GGSs to a traditionally structured environment.
  2. To assess whether the application of GSSs will be a factor in the prevention of negative effects of meetings may pose to productivity.
  3. To understand how GSS application will contribute to better levels of motivation, satisfaction and communication amongst members of the organisation.

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, since the research objective was to explore consequences of the integration of GSS on organisational efficiency and a focus group discussion with the leaders of DHHQ, in Falls Church, VA as well as answering a questionnaire using GSS by employees of the organisation.

Chapter 3 includes the research method, data collection process, and appropriateness of the research design. The section of the data collection process includes an explanation of interview questions and the survey questionnaire. Chapter 3 contains a focus group discussion, the informed consent of participants and 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 use qualitative research methods. 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.

Researchers attempt to discern meaning based on the importance individuals place on their own experiences (Merriam, 2009). Qualitative research has a foundation based on empirical inquiry through the collection of lived experiences in a natural setting (Shank, 2006): the results rely on the process as much as on the data. Researchers determine themes and patterns from multiple sources of data including primary source documents, interviews, and observations. The data generated from words and transferred in an understandable manner are vital (Neuman, 2003). With the delineated results, qualitative research provides a complex understanding of a problem (Creswell, 2007).

Qualitative methods, such as interviews, are useful in yielding new insights or perspectives so one can gain a deeper understanding of information (Strauss & Corbin, 1990; Robson, 2002). Quantitative studies investigate causal determination, forecasts, and results generalisation, whereas qualitative studies investigate clarification and identification of comparable circumstances. Qualitative researchers search for a variety of perspectives (Glesne, 1999). For example, in qualitative research, face-to-face interactions are the predominant distinctive feature and also the basis for its most common problem. Such problem includes researchers’ involvement with the people they study and the accompanying challenges, and opportunities that such closeness brings.

Specifically, this research will launch a study on a Federal Defence Agency serving the medical needs of the country and worldwide USA Military personnel who are commissioned on active duty, reservist and retired professionals. Defence Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) has adopted GSS, and this study will find out if it works in improving the efficiency of the organisation.

A study is defined by Leonard-Barton (1990) 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). Tellis (1997) explained that case studies are selective focusing only on one or two issues to understand the whole system being investigated. Zivkovic (2012) contended that the study is often without clear methodological thoroughness that other research methods have been due to the fact that there is a lack of formal protocol in conducting it, and the perceived obviousness of the results. Quantitative research will not be appropriate for the study.

The research questions are of a broad nature and the data collected is non-numerical (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). The quantitative methods in quantitative research consist of questionnaires, demographic data, psychometric data, or other accountability measures (Shaw, Deiros, Soggard, & Van Engen, 2011).

In contrast, the present research study had broad questions intended to understand participants’ experiences.

Mixed-method studies combine qualitative and quantitative data analysis in a single study (Creswell, 2007). Such studies emphasise statistical data and descriptions. A deep understanding of both qualitative and quantitative methods is necessary to perform this type of study (Creswell, 2007). A mixed-method study is unnecessary for the present study because statistical measures and variables are a requirement.

While Creswell (2007) acknowledged the existence of other forms of qualitative research, as well as mixed methodologies and identified “narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and 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 chronological order (Pinnegar & Danes, 2006).

Phenomenology requires a first-hand experience with the phenomena of the study. Often phenomenological studies intimately examine human encounters, which may involve love, hate, anger, grief, or any other deep emotion (Merriam, 2009). While participants in the GSSs 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 new practice or promoting further research (Corbin & Strauss, 2007). The study includes the advantages and disadvantages of implementing GSSs technologies in organisations. However, it was not the purpose of the study to develop a new theory.

Ethnography is an expensive form of research examining an entire cultural group (Creswell, 2008). This type of research is rather hard and time consuming. Study is the most appropriate methodology for the study. Study research is appropriate because of the narrative data collected from group participants. According to Merriam (2009), single embedded case studies are bound and they contain comprehensive case descriptions, which make them different from other types of qualitative research.

Population and Sampling

The sample of this study includes 10 leaders and 10 workers of the Defence Health Agency (DHA), formerly known as Tricare Management Activity (TMA) with headquarters (DHHQ) in Falls Church, VA. This agency serves more than 9 million active and retired military person and their family members across the USA and abroad (Tricare Management Activity, 2011, p. 17). The agency’s office at DHHQ, Falls Church, Virginia location has over 3000 employees including active duty military members, civilians and contractors. Based on the target population of the current study, a purposive sampling, which involved identification and selection of participants who met a certain criteria or profile, enabled the identification and selection of qualified participants for the study (Cooper & Schindler, 2006).

The study will include identities of study participants employed in USA Government Agency of the DHA as a military, civilian or contractor. Upon receipt of the Institutional Research Board’s approval from University of Phoenix, the selected participants have to meet the following criteria:

  • over the age of 18;
  • Working at DHA, DHHQ as a leader or worker
  • Actively participation experience on GSSs at the agency is a must.

Participants who can articulate ideas will offer a range of positions on issues (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Upon getting approval, the focus group discussion will be scheduled at the time most convenient for the participants, while the questionnaires will be emailed to the Human Resource department for dissemination to the employees. Informed consent forms were sent to participants. Sampling strategies in qualitative research are numerous (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Polkinghorne (2005) stated that a sample size of 1 to 20 participants for qualitative research was appropriate. For this study, the sample size consists of 10 leaders and 10 workers of the DHA employees. The sample participants represent varying disciplines.

Research Problem

The main research question posed by this study is “What are the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings on various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA”.

Informed Consent

Informed consent is one way to ensure that participants do not feel coerced into contributing to a study (Neuman, 2003). The researcher required informed consent of participants in the research study. Creswell (2007) stated that acquisition of informed consent allowed research participants to partake while increasing the openness and honesty of responses. Informed consent also promoted ethical practices for the researcher (Shank, 2006).

Ethical practices included proceeding with caution, avoiding harm, maintaining openness, and upholding honesty (Shank). After the study is approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the earlier included contact participants are informed through electronic mail. Participants will receive information with the overview of the study (see Appendix B), including the purpose and nature of the study along with a consent form for voluntary participation in an interview (see Appendix C).

Providing purpose and procedural tasks assured that each participant understood the research. The purpose also described professional and personal contribution, which gained a deeper understanding of GSSs. Prospective participants signed the consent form and acknowledged participation in the study was voluntary, without reward, threat, or coercion. Participants also understood, from the consent form, that personal information remained confidential and withdrawal from the study was acceptable at any time without risk of harm or repercussions. Each participant received a copy of the consent form, which included researcher contact information. Participants could contact the researcher in person, by e-mail, or phone at any time. Procedures for protecting the confidentiality will also include the letter of consent.

The researcher will read the consent form and each participant will chose to sign it (See Appendix C). Once the participant signs and returns the consent form to the researcher, communication will occur to arrange a location and time for the interview. The sign letters of consent will stored in the office on file in print for 3 years from the date of completion (Hochstetler, 2009).

Confidentiality

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 has access to information identifying personal information of participants. Electronic files of the interviews, transcribed interviews, and related electronic files are stored in an encrypted, password-protected folder on the computer of the researcher. All physical materials related to the participants are stored 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, will occur 3 years after completion of the study (Hochstetler, 2009). To ensure participant anonymity, each participants will have a unique number assigned.

The unique number will begin with the letters DE for DHA Employee and will contain a number in the corresponding order from 1, 2 3…: for example, participant number 11 is DE11. The list of participant’s names with their numbers always remains on the flash drive and will remain locked in the same file cabinet as the other information for three years. The document will undergo reformatting procedures to ensure erasure of all information from the study. The study complies with the International Human Subjects Research Requirements and upholds ethical principles of research (Creswell, 2008; Merriam, 2009). The researcher will erase all computer data from the hard drive and shared all physical material.

Geographic Location

The geographical location for this study is Falls Church Virginia. DHA’s Head Quarter is located in Falls Church, Virginia. DHA covers 7 divisions and more than 19 Directorate with many subdivisions and programme areas serving all over the USA in military facility and international countries. Most of division and directorate key person are located in DHHQ. The intent of this study is to interview division and directorate employees. The faculty member requirements include familiarity with GSSs, new technology capabilities work environment, and varying levels of experience. Access to location and participants is favourable and accessible to the researcher. The organisation has over 3000 employee including active duty military members, civilians and contractor.

Data Collection

A qualitative methodology will guide the data collection procedure. Qualitative research studies are majorly aimed at explaining behaviors, ideas and events from studied groups’ perspective and ideologies (Savin-Baden & Major, 2013). Also, qualitative research studies facilitate valuable and in-depth investigations of the investigated data since researched group’s description of the accuracy is basically responsible for majority of the diversities in the issue of concern. This increases the feasibility of deriving from participants perspectives.

Qualitative research design supporters insist on the potentiality for developing a theory through in-depth recording and analysis processes. One research study suggests that the qualitative research method tasks are capable of facilitating and exposing the understanding of what is to be studies (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). Qualitative research studies may offer complex signs of phenomena which are complex to understand through quantitative methods, demonstrating the efficiency of qualitative data for illumination of quantitative findings (Holstein & Gubrium, 2012). Supporters of the qualitative research study are also of the view that applying a logical method restricts the study outcomes within an already existing theory, while an inductive method encourages goal achievement and new theory discovery (Mannay, 2010).

The data experimenting procedure, notwithstanding if it applies a qualitative or quantitative data, is made up of different relationships between the research and the collected data. An advanced developed research question will result in to a more exposed collection of responses (Saladana, 2012).

Creswell (2008) states that participants could participate in any of the several possible interview techniques or formats. The format in this research study consisted of open-ended, semi-structured, and unstructured questions (Creswell, 2008). Permission to conduct the study will be sought from the officer-in-charge of DHA with a letter of request (Appendix A). The letter will explain the objectives of the study and the methodology to be employed. It will indicate that a focus group discussion is planned to be conducted by the leaders of the organisation, while a survey questionnaire will be emailed to the employees for completion. Upon getting approval, the focus group discussion will be scheduled at the time most convenient for the participants while the questionnaires will be emailed to the Human Resource Department for dissemination to the employees.

Instruments Used

Focus Group Discussion

Semi structured interviews provide enough flexibility to interviewers and allow participants to expound on their answers. The interviewer should control digressing to another topic so that they stay on the issue at hand. The interviewees should be made to feel confident, relaxed and encouraged to express their deepest thoughts about the subject under study, but at the same time, made to feel that there are certain expectations from him. The interviews were recorded and transcribed in verbatim for qualitative analysis.

Winter (2000) argued that participants’ answers to questions posed to them regarding their own experiences are enough as long as they are truthful so they are considered valid (Butt, 1992). “In the case of the human sciences it is the congruence of our text of understanding with the lived reality of persons” (Eisner & Peshkin, 1990 pp. 97-98). This means that validity would depend on how well we represent the perceptions, feelings, thinking, experience of persons, the breadth, depth and interrelations of issues, concerns and themes (Butt, 1992). Thus, in exploring the experiences of others, the best methodology would be through interview. These will give a vivid picture of participants’ perspectives and they will be considered the professionals.

For this study, the focus group discussion with DHA organisational leaders will be semi-structured with the researcher asking some questions and allowing such questions to be springboard to open discussions. The following questions will be field-tested by the researcher for people outside DHA to gain feedback on how people respond to them. The questions may be revised depending on the results of the field testing as follows:

  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. What are the effects of integrating GSS in your organisation?
  4. How much do you know about GSS and its use?
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using GSS?
  6. To what degree e-collaboration tools are used as a primary means of communication within a virtually-supported team environment?
  7. How did the employees respond to the integration of GSS?
  8. What training programmes should be implemented to promote employee-engagement, team building, and leadership?
  9. How do GSSs overcome the gaps in spatial and temporal dimensions?
  10. How does GSS affect their efficiency?
  11. What skills are required for one to be able to use GSS?
  12. What challenges have you encountered in using GSS?
  13. How do GSSs contribute to the group dynamics, commitment, motivation, and trust?
  14. Would you recommend the integration of GSS to other organisations? Why or why not?

Survey Questionnaires

Questionnaires will be used because they are a versatile data-gathering method due to their affordability (Campbell et al, 2004). Cohen, et al. (2000) also praised their efficiency with questionnaires. It allows the researcher to collect a significant amount of information in one attempt, rather than 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 suitable, and the survey process does not require the researcher and respondent to match free periods of time to conduct the research. Writing their remarks on open spaces in the questionnaires was useful in exploring the respondents’ insights that may not fit within the closed question part of the questionnaire.

For this study, survey questionnaires with additional spaces for explanations to elaborate on their responses will be distributed to DHA employees via email. The survey-questionnaire will likewise be field-tested and revised as needed before distribution.

It is appropriate to use this research method because the researcher will gain insights directly from the participants. Initially, respondents answer the survey questionnaire items and then elaborate on their responses by writing their comments or remarks in the spaces provided. Percentages of responses for each item are analysed. 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 focus group discussion, which aims to delve deeper into the issues of the questionnaire (See Appendix B).

Analysis of Data

Data from the focus group discussion will be analysed qualitatively and compared to information derived from the literature. The data derived from participants’ responses to the qualitative will be analysed using the Nvivo Software. Nvivo is a content analysis software allows for the identification of keywords within transcribed contents. The analysis of these interviews and questionnaires will reveal key themes in the GSSs perceptions of experiences related to the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings.

Ethical Considerations

This study complies with ethical standards and considerations involved when conducting research with human participants. A letter of consent to conduct the study with their personnel will be sent to the head of DHA. Confidentiality of information will be ensured so that the trust of the participants is established. Participation is non-obligatory and participants may withdraw anytime they feel like it.

Organisation and Clarity

The proposed study’s aim is to explore what are the consequences of the integration of GSSs on the efficiency of organisational meetings in various directorate levels of the DHHQ, Falls Church, VA. The function of the DHA is to enhance martial activities. It also ensures the implementation of policy as distributed by the assigned bodies, and controls the inpatient activities and their sub-clinics designated to the DHA though the NCR order. The study will follow a study approach. A field study will increase the reliability of the study (Yin, 2009). The second strategy that strengthened reliability will be the utilization of open-ended interviews.

Chapter Summary

This chapter discussed all details pertinent to carrying out the study from the research objectives, research problem, participants, instruments and the actual procedures to be followed all the way to the moment when data derived will be finally analysed. Qualitative methods 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, which consists of word or text data from the sample population (Creswell, 2008; Gelo, Braakmann, & Benetka, 2008). Qualitative researchers use several design types, such as a study, grounded theory, ethnographic, field research, and phenomenological (Creswell, 2008).The optimum research design for this current study was the study of 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 to this research study, and the procedures for data collection. The data collection process consisted of interview notes for the exploration of 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 transcription of the text and deconstruction of the text, which involved the creation of categories. Ethical considerations were also discussed. The focus of chapter 4 will include the detail of the results of the study.

Appendix B: 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 details.

Question Comments
  1. GSS has been helpful in facilitating our tasks.
  1. I can do without GSS because the tasks I do can be covered even without it.
  1. Use of GSS requires special skills and abilities.
  1. It is easy to use GSS.
  1. I am favourable to being reached via GSS wherever I am to stay connected to work.
  1. I prefer GSS to be turned off outside my work hours.
  1. GSS has been instrumental in keeping harmonious relationships with my colleagues.
  1. GSS is helpful in coming up with decisions for the company quickly.
  1. Use of GSS saves time and effort.
  1. Overall, GSS helps improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness.

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