The Significance of Group Support Systems in Increasing Efficiency in Organization

Subject: Management
Pages: 5
Words: 2798
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: PhD


The concepts of group process and Group Support Systems have ever remained contentious to various scholars and researchers. A study conducted by Kim (2006) revealed that the group process enables leaders to develop interventional measures that can be applied to change less desirable attributes showcased by different members of an organization. According to Kilgour (2010), Group Support System (GSSs) is “a set of techniques, software, and technology designed to focus and enhance the communication, deliberations, and decision-making of groups (p. 19)”. Meetings play a pivotal role in all organizations in deliberating strategic issues and organizational development plans (Hoffman & Parker, 2006). In this study, a critical review of the advantages and disadvantages of GSSs will be made. This will provide leaders and managers with adequate information needed to select the most convenient and appropriate system for their organizations. This knowledge will further assist them to come up with efficient collaborative measures that specify the roadmap to organizational goals, reduce goals attainment barriers, and increase group and individual satisfaction towards achieving the set goals and objectives.

Background Information

According to Kilgour (2010), various field and experimental studies have shown how GSSs have proven to be effective tools to use in ensuring that meetings are efficient and reliable, in addition to enhancing quality group decision-making processes. Moreover, Hoffman and Parker (2006) stated that in most cases, planning and executing meetings often consume too much time. The surveys on group efficiency indicate that most employees are often inattentive during meetings and most meetings lack adequate planning regarding the topics to be discussed (Cusella, 2009). Recent studies show that most companies spend more time on meetings than they do on actual work (Hoffman& Parker, 2006). According to Hoffman and Parker (2006),

meetings have very little positive effect on productivity and they waste valuable time that could otherwise be channeled to more productive activities.

With the increasing competition, today’s businesses are seeking to acquire competitive advantage through minimized operational costs, product innovations, improved quality, customer service and acceleration of the production life-cycle (Kilgour, 2010). This has necessitated the need for effective and efficient decision-making processes in order to establish critical business strategies that can enhance success in these turbulent times. Policies, operational and budgetary plans among other organizational tasks often involve discussion-based tasks and meetings between different members of the organization.

According to Niederman et al (2008), collaboration between different members and groups within an organization is significant since it promotes knowledge sharing, teamwork and increases productivity. Meetings play a pivotal role in the facilitation of collaborative efforts within different organizations. Recent studies have indicated that in the past few decades, meetings have been the main source of contentions and conflicts in organizational settings (Hoffman & Parker, 2006). Based on a study conducted by DeSanctis & Gallupe (1987), the productivity of the firms is highly influenced by the degree of responsiveness and accountability of the directors, managers, and all the leading parties in key decision making role in a firm. In this regard, engaging various stakeholders in decision making facilitates higher accuracy in the decisions made, besides enhancing cohesiveness in the organizational stakeholders.

Statement of the Problem

Frequent meetings amongst the top management officers have always proved impractical in many organizations. The main concern with respect to resource management and maximization is that top management meeting are convened at a very regular interval, a sign of ineffective resource management. In addition, such meetings tend to last longer than stipulated, hence becoming unproductive since they fail to delivery the anticipated results. According to Niederman et al ( 2008), in the information technology domain, and particularly with regard to GSS, it is widely held that technology alone cannot create a predictable, useful, repeatable improvement in meeting and organizational outcomes. Mainly due to ‘process losses’, which refer to communication, teamwork and workgroup inefficiencies that result from variations in status between members of any given meeting (Hoffman & Parker, 2006). While groups form an integral part of an organization’s structure, the impact of individual members of an organization should not be undermined. In some cases Hoffman and Parker (2006), noted that group judgments are inferior in comparison to individual judgments due to complexities in groupthink processes.

The specific problem is ineffective meetings in an organizational setting contribute to low levels of productivity, job satisfaction and motivation exhibited by members. According to Hoffman and Parker (2006), Yin (2008) and Crowe et al (2011), it was identified that most managers spend more than 60% of their time in meetings, the time used in meetings results in reduced productivity in most companies. In most meetings, members spend a significant amount of time arguing instead of finding solutions to problems (Hopffman& Parker, 2006). Niederman et al ( 2008) confirms that, GSS will facilitate better organizational group cohesiveness in creating ideas and agendas that are consistent with the organizational norms. Hoffman and Parker, 2006 noted decisions are made based on employee ranking, rather than applicability and the ineffectiveness levels exhibited in meetings negatively affect productivity, motivation, job satisfaction and trust among individuals and groups. This is because there are organizations that have these systems in place but lack the necessary skills and knowledge required to make them work towards their advantage.

Purpose of the study

This qualitative case study aims at providing deep insight and understanding of the group support systems with respect to productivity and performance of managers. This proposed study aims at assessing whether the application of GSSs would prevent the negative effects meetings have on productivity, and to establish how effective are the GSSs in contributing to job satisfaction, motivation, and communication among members of an organization. Qualitative case study is an appropriate design for the study because it allows precise and accurate data collection within a restricted short period of time. In addition, qualitative case study approach provides the researcher with an opportunity to get into the problem since he/she interacts more closely with the research participants (Silverman, 2005; Yin, 2008). Moreover, adopting a case study strategy allows the researcher to study the research problem more comprehensively since the entire study would be based on real-life context (Crowe et al 2011, p. 8).

Population and Sample

Participants sampled using the following steps: (i) organizations that are independent of any subsidiaries and other businesses, (ii) subsidiary organizations are eliminate (iii) organizations lacking GSSs and are willing to test its applicability will select (2 companies), (iv) DoD and Federal Agencies with a GSSs considered as ineffective will select (4 organizations); and (v) organizations with an effective GSSs will select (4 organizations).

Eight to ten organizations from a similar industry will select using the criteria mentioned above. According to Peloso and Lunetta (2011, p. 64), this represents a population that lack substantial disparities in regard to sub-population, all selection methods that are provide and having “similar power and appropriate Type 1 error for association.” The organizations selected fully represented this population based on the selection criteria. According to Duncan (2008), proponents of non-random selection of participants argue that it is the best approach. Past researches and experiences show that random-sampling provides better and more accurate results. Mixture of random and non-random sampling to select the participants of this study would be conduct.

Importance of the Study

As noted by Webne-Behrman (2008), the term group process refers to the procedures implemented by closely working member of an organization, in order to come up with viable solutions to common organizational problems. Kim (2006) stated that group processes enables leaders to develop interventional measures that can be applied to change the less desirable attributes showcased by different members of an organization. Organization theory views an organization 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 organization (Hoffman & Parker, 2006). Research will set out to further our understanding of this theory and the applicability of GSSs in an organizational setting.

The concept of group support systems (GSSs) is relatively new. GSS are a promising vehicle for better managing groups (Wilson, et al., 2010). The study of Group Support Systems (GSS) as an aid to group decision-making in organizations is important to organizational 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 Group Support Systems and their applicability in resolving productivity issues that stem from ineffective meetings (Kilgour, 2010).

Much of the GSS research published to date does not report the configuration specifics of GSS: the exact instructions given to the group, the guidelines, constraints, and ground rules by which they worked; and the step-by-step mechanics of how their work proceeded (Briggs, Vreede, and Nunamaker, 2003; Santanen, 2005; Niederman, 2008). Though there are lots of documented literatures regarding teamwork and group dynamics, but there is little information on the effects of GSSs in improving meetings and group efficiency. In this study, Group Support System (GSS) and group dynamics will first be explored. Secondly, the structure of the GSS will be explored where its framework in an organizational context will be discussed. Further, the usefulness and significance of GSS to an organization will be focused where its advantages and limitations will be explored.

This study will mainly focus on the role of leader in facilitating meetings and group activities through the use of GSS in an organizational context where this research will enable leaders in organizational settings understand:

  1. the objective of Group Support Systems,
  2. how meetings should be designed to support the organizational strategic objectives,
  3. how to increase meetings effectiveness through GSS
  4. understand the dynamics of comprehensive Group Support System and how it promotes teamwork, commitment and motivation among employees.


The research design will consist of surveys and qualitative case studies. Using surveys as research design will enable to collect large amounts of data regarding different situations, practices and views using interviews and questionnaires. The survey approach supports the research design. “The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and program-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context” (Crowe et al., 2011, p. 8). By combining these research designs, the results derived from this study will be more accurate and comprehensive. This is because these designs allow a researcher to gather data that reflect real-life situations (Surveys) and compare current findings to results collected in previous studies that focused on the same issue (Case studies).

Participants were sampled using the following steps: (i) organizations that are independent of subsidiaries and other businesses, (ii) subsidiary organizations were eliminated (iii) organizations lacking GSSs and were willing to test its applicability were selected (2 companies), (iv) organizations with a GSS consider as ineffective will select (4 organizations); and (v) organizations with an effective GSS will select(4 organizations). In measuring the effectiveness of GSSs in facilitating effective and efficient business and professional meetings, ratios and intervals will be use. Kemp and Grace (2010) stated that ratios and interval scales “allow more precise and interesting relationships between variables to be discovered (P. 399).” This is especially important since the study will compare data from past studies as well as financial trends of the participating companies before and after using GSSs.

After collecting the data, the analysis process will be initiated where recursive abstractness will be employed. This analysis technique will be preferred since the data will mainly be qualitative in nature, and only the key and relevant information will be required in this study.

Review of the Literature

Primary data will be collected from interviews and surveys. An informed consent form will be signed by all participants to ensure that the research is done in an ethical manner. Secondary data will be collected from the university library, credible journal articles, books and internet sites that shed some light on this topic. Data collected will be analyzed and the results used to answer the designed research questions.

The study includes some group process and development concepts. According to the Tuckman’s model of team development, teams are developed sequentially over certain period of time (Parker, 2011). The model suggests that there are five stages that all groups follow before they become a unified decision-making and problem-solving unit (Parker, 2011). Using a GSS in meetings ensures that meetings follow these stages with little to no complications. This ensures that the meetings are less time consuming, more productive and foster participation from majority of members.

Organization theory (OT): the theory views an organization as a group of people who are connected by common goals and objectives (Cusella, 2009). Organization theory be described as the study of organizations so as to identify common patterns that promote effective problem-solving and decision-making processes, efficient execution of organizational tasks, productivity and satisfaction of clients’ and stakeholders’ needs. That involves the study of individual, group and organizational processes (Cusella, 2009).

Research Questions

This study is:

  1. to understand the group support systems and group/individual productivity,
  2. if application of GSSs would prevent the negative effects meetings have on productivity and;
  3. how GSSs contribute to better levels of job satisfaction, motivation and communication among members of an organization.

Answering the following questions will be the primary focus of this study:

  1. How effective should the GSS be applied in order to improve business and professional meeting processes in an organizational setting?
  2. What role does GSSs play in enhancing job satisfaction, motivation and productivity in a business setting?

Annotated Bibliography

Kilgour, D. M. (2010). Handbook of group decision and negotiation. New York: Springer.

Kilgour viewed the Group Decision and Negotiation as an analytical and experiential, strategic scrutiny of a group’s decision-making and negotiation processes. According to his study, Group Decision and Negotiation goes beyond many traditional corrective boundaries, and is more closely related to business administration and strategies. According to this article, the Handbook of Group Decision and Negotiation is one of the major references in the field of GSS. In the book, strategic group support system models are explored which acts as an ultimate reference for researchers, scholars and students in the studying of Group Decision and Negotiation dynamics.

Niederman, F., Briggs, R., De-Vreede, G. & Kolfschoten, G.L. (2008). The Minnesota GDSS research project: Group support systems, group processes, and outcomes. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 9(10), 633-652.

This paper explains and described how effort to boost meeting productivity and success, managers may employ trained group facilitators. They may also implement group support systems (GSS) for the same reason. The two approaches can be taken separately or together. In this study, in-depth interviews with 37 practicing facilitators provided their perspectives on critical factors that influence meeting success and potential benefits and concerns with the use of GSS. Respondents focused on a core of communication and group process skills as critical for facilitator success. Overall, the respondents observed or anticipated more efficient and effective task performance as benefits of GSS technology. Their concerns focused on technology-related issues: participant anxiety, systems inflexibility, and systems reliability. Views of facilitators with high and low levels of GSS experience are largely consistent. High-experience GSS facilitators viewed technical issues as more central to meeting success, while low-experience GSS facilitators focused more heavily on attributes of the group. The paper concludes by offering suggestions for identifying and training GSS facilitators and comments on key issues of importance to GSS designers, based on the facilitator’s perspective. However, this study seems to focus on technology-related GSS issues, and there seems to be a gap of knowledge of actual employment of GSS in teams and organizational meetings. Particularly, the team development models using GSS seems to be lacking in this study.

Wilson, J. L., Griffin, T. & Jessup, L. (2010). GSS anonymity effects on small group behavior. Academy of Information & Management Sciences Journal, 13(2), 41-57.

In this study the authors included managers and professionals in a field experiment with an aim of determining the influences of Group Support System (GSS) inscrutability and its role on group productivity and satisfaction. The book further asserts that managers and corporate governance body have not elaborately addressed the gap in productivity and resource management, hence, the concern for inefficiency in production and potential capacity of the firms. In GSS sessions, they discussed ways to solve the problem of insurance fraud within their industry. Groups of four and five members interacted either with or without anonymity, and either with equal status or unequal status. Anonymous groups generated more total comments, more unique ideas, and more ideas of higher rarity than did identified groups. Equal status group members were more satisfied than unequal status members.


Crowe, S., Cresswell, K., Robertson, A., Huby, G., Avery, A., & Sheikh, A. (2011).The case study approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11(1), 100 – 108.

Cusella, L. P. (2009). Conceptual issues in organizational communication research: Elements of a model of conceptual authenticity. Communication Quarterly, 32(4), 293 – 300.

Briggs, R., Vreede, G., De- Nunamaker, J.F. & David, T.H. (2001). ThinkLets: Achieving predictable, repeatable patterns of group interaction with group support systems. Los Alamitos: Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

DeSanctis, C. & Gallupe, R.B. (1987). A foundation for the study of group decision support systems. Management Science, 33(5), 589-609.

Duncan, G. J. (2008). When to promote, and when to avoid, a population. Demography, 45(4), 763 – 784.

Elfvengreen, K. (2008). Group support system for managing the front end of innovation. New York: VDM Verlag.

Hoffman, R., & Parker, G. M. (2006). Meeting excellence: 33 tools to lead meetings that get results. Boston: John Wiley and Sons.

Huber, G.P., Valacich, J.S. & Jessup, L.M. (1993). Group support systems: New perspectives. New York: Macmillan.

Kilgour, D. M. (2010). Handbook of group decision and negotiation. New York: Springer.

Kim, Y. (2006). Supporting distributed groups with group support systems: A study of the effect of group leaders and communication modes on group performance. Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, 18(2), 20 – 38.

Niederman, F., Briggs, R., De-Vreede, G. & Kolfschoten, G.L. (2008). The Minnesota GDSS research project: Group support systems, group processes, and outcomes. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 9(10), 633-652.

Peloso, G. M. & Lunetta, K. L. (2011). Choice of population structure informative principal components for adjustment in a case-control study. BMC Genetics, 12(1), 64 – 73.

Parker, G. M. (2011). Team players and teamwork: New strategies for developing successful collaboration. Boston: John Wiley and Sons.

Silverman, D. (2005). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. London: Sage.

Webne-Behrman, H. (2008). The practice of facilitation: Managing group process and solving problems. San Francisco: IAP.

Wilson, J. L., Griffin, T. & Jessup, L. (2010). GSS anonymity effects on small group behavior. Academy of Information & Management Sciences Journal, 13(2), 41-57.

Yin, K. (2008).Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Publications.