The Significance of Group Support Systems

Subject: Management
Pages: 24
Words: 6057
Reading time:
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Study level: PhD

Literature Review

Introduction

The successful development of an organization depends on a plethora of factors that are specifically connected with structure, culture, and management mechanisms. The brief analysis of Group Support Systems (GGSs) has created implications for their further research to define how they influence efficiency and overall performance. Integrating technology into an organization requires total reconstruction of business management. To accomplish the research, specific emphasis should be placed on several aspects. To begin with, it is necessary to examine various definitions of GSSs, as well as how they are applied in diverse fields. Second, it is purposeful to consider how GSSs can contribute to decision-making and conflict resolution in a global setting. Third, the paper seeks to assess the research studies dedicated to the analysis of the connection between technology and social environment to highlight the pitfalls of current management. Fourth, the examination of theories related to the group support system concept should be discussed. This is of particular concern to the theory of acceptance and task closure theory that focuses on the degree of interaction between a computer-based environment and social medium. Finally, the research will also refer to the connection between integration of support system and its influence on value creation, norms, and ethics. All these approaches are also premised on the constant interaction between virtual tools and collaborative environment ensuring support and flexibility to teamwork.

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Presenting Definitions and Alternative Views on Group Support Systems

A brief evaluation of the GSSs has presented the term in the context of technological support that enhances project collaboration through integration of 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 GSSs in an organizational setting. In particular, the studies by Ackermann and Eden (2011) have discovered that GSSs could be regarded as a representation of a cognitive theory due to their influence at all levels of organizational activities. In addition, GSSs have been employed to enhance negotiation of strategy-making groups through an agreed direction. The scholars also insist, “…a GSS may particularly facilitate psychological negotiation within groups, supporting groups in reaching agreements about strategic direction” (Ackermann & Eden, 2011, p. 294). In order to understand the context within which GSSs are used, the focus should be made on a set of strategic interventions within a multi-national organization. This particular use of a technology-based support system can allow group leaders to examine cognitive dynamics, namely how participants contribute to the agreement and information sharing between group members. Ackermann and Eden (2011) insist that individual cognition shapes the underpinning for group negotiation as compared to collective cognition. Although individual cognition prevents from understanding the role of GSSs in a group work, it is still vital to discuss them within the context of changing cognitions.

The importance of individual thinking is indispensable to evaluating how negotiation changes in the course of introduction of separate ideas and strategies. In this respect, GSSs build the means by which these changes are reflected. Jongsawat and Premchaiswadi (2011) also discuss the changing awareness in the research studies. Due to the fact that the group cognition is premised on the information the members operate during decision-making, group awareness indicates the readiness and availability of team while working on a particular project. In this respect, GSSs can be considered tools by which the degree of group awareness is identified (Kolfschoten et al., 2012). Additionally, the system also serves as “an integrated computer-based system to facilitate the solution of unstructured of semistructured tasks by a group that has joint responsibility for performing the specific task” (Jongsawat & Premchaiswadi, 2011, p. 232). The main objective of GGSs, therefore, lies in achieving a final group decision with an effective agreement of needs and high quality of solutions.

Aside from the focus on computer-based environments, specific attention requires the role of social networks and face-to-face communication in changing attitudes of group members who enter a virtual space. In this respect, Smith, H. A., & McKeen (2011) assert that information technology systems shape the basis of collaboration between team members that cannot access face-to-face communication. In this respect, GSSs can be presented as an ideal synergy of IT environment with the participants’ readiness to employ software for enhancing decision-making and communication. Such a perspective is also supported in Istudor and Duţă (2010) who refer 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). Therefore, group decision support system requires a specific combination of software, hardware, people, and procedures.

With regard to the above-presented terms, GSSs embrace a range of important components, issues, and conditions under which people could effectively interact. Computer-based systems, therefore, seek to support activities through interactive communication. Their quality is identified by the degree to which solutions are provided. Importantly, human factor contributes to the effectiveness of online communication in terms of the competence and experience of the team members in applying technological tools.

GSSs Can Contribute to Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution in a Global Setting

With regard to the proposed decisions, the main role of GSSs lies in improving decision-making and conflict management in a team. Such a function is especially important as far as the global setting is concerned because more and more organizations operate in a culturally diverse environment. Indeed, a virtual decision-making process gains momentum in the globalization process. The tendency also leads to collective problem management by employees whose mobility can be increased through web-based collaborative tools.

Rapid and interactive decision-making contributes to developing virtual team software and support systems for promoting efficient conflict management and better problem-solving. What is more important is that the integration of IT grounds contributes to proliferation of much faster and practical solutions proposed in an online setting through social networking platforms, microblogs, and discussion forums. In this respect, Turban et al. (2011) refer to fit-viability models that assist in evaluating whether social software is suitable to a decision task orientation, as well as organizational development. The scholars find it vital to take organizational culture and structure into consideration because they affect greatly the readiness of employees to accept changes. Similar to Turban et al. (2012), Lee and Dennis (2012) have examined the connection between a decision-making process and GSS. In particular, the researchers have focused on the analysis of the various schemes and measures that should be integrated into a software-regulated environment to ensure successful decision-making. In the course of the study, Lee and Dennis (2012) have concluded, “the participants in an IT-enabled group decision-making meeting can import from the already existing socially constructed world” (p. 21). Hence, the virtual reality can be identified with the face-to-face communication because it also implies interaction of individuals for the purpose of providing viable solutions.

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GGSs, as important sources of enhancing communication, provide a solid ground for reconstructing decisions. In fact, teamwork existing in a real-life focuses on the decision-making as a prior action that any team should integrate. However, traditional decision-making in life settings implies a number of elements, including employed environment, cultural backgrounds, and employees’ needs. In the course of years, the evolution of group support into a technologically enabled network creates more challenges for sustainable operation. In this respect, Antunes and Costa (2010) support 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). Additionally, they are also recognized as media that enhance knowledge acquisition, quality of decisions, and employees’ motivation to participate in negotiation.

Certainly, working in traditional team environments has a positive influence on instant negotiation for various urgent issues. However, globalized approach to management implies developing new mechanisms that can solve the problem of geographical location. The growth of collaborative teams has become a regular process in business organizations. However, the introduction of GSSs has provided new alternatives for cooperating and group decision-making. Aside from enhanced communication, GSSs positively contribute to human resource management. In particular, Yao et al. (2010) emphasize, “GSS is able to facilitate HR groups to gauge users’ opinions, readiness, satisfaction, etc., increase HRM activity quality, and generate better group collaborations and decision makings with the current or planned HRIS services” (p. 401). Hence, while introducing a technology-supported environment, the focus on employees’ needs and welfare remains a crucial point.

Recent trends in developing business organizations are predetermined by a globally driven realm that dictates new, software-oriented settings. The proposed research studies have concluded that GSSs are not only regarded as periphery systems enhancing communications, but as the main tools for establishing relationships between geographically alienated areas. In addition, the integration of GSSs into a business setting promotes human resource management and develops new strategies for decision-making and conflict management.

Understanding the Gaps between Technology and Social Environment

Rapid integration of technological support in social environments has provided a new framework for operating within a business organization. In particular, the development of GSSs requires acquisition of new skills, experiences, and competencies among the employees, which influence the effectiveness of their performance. In fact, virtual teams do not cede the teams to negotiating in a real environment, except for a few issues. In particular, the employees communicating in a virtual space can be less encouraged to achieve trustful and motivating relationships. The created gap can negatively contribute to further advancement of IT-enabled group support and management. In order to understand the problem, analysis of research studies should be introduced.

The emergence of digital community is not a novel issue since the adoption of the first technology-based models of collaboration date back to the second half of the past century (Mattison, 2011). In addition, Short (2012) introduces studies in which the focus is on the development and acquisition of new, alternative skills that expand experience in communicating at various levels. In fact, GSS technology substitutes a social context for brainstorming, problem-solving, negotiation, and communication by means of an electronic environment (Chen & Kyaw-Phyo, 2012). In this respect, the assumption that virtual environment can create communication gaps is false. Rather, the scholars insist, “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 is advanced at information-processing dimension that largely depends on such characteristics as place, time, and synchronicity.

Collaborating technology and group-decision making is vital for entering a culturally diverse setting. To integrate this environment, employees must be provided with new tools and skills for collaboration. 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) advise 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. In addition, Kolfschoten et al. (2012) introduce a framework for collaboration and technology-based support, group members should focus on such roles as development, application, and management of design administration. In particular, there should be a process designer, or a collaboration engineer, whose primary responsibility is confined to preparing the meeting process. Second, process application is another dimension that should be introduced to collaborative activities. In this respect, a facilitator provides instructions monitoring the group members and assisting them in achieving the established objectives. At this stage, the facilitator should take responsibility for preparing and operating software, including the technical tools assembling the meeting facilities. Finally, management process should focus both on e-collaborative tools and human resources involved in the collaborative process.

With regard to the reviewed research studies, it can be concluded that, in order to fulfill the gap between technology and social environments, it is necessary to create a new alternative setting in which employees can improve their communication and develop new skills replacing and improving traditional means of group interaction. A specific framework proposed for this solution refers to three dimensions, including design, application, and management that should engage third parties ensuring successful communication and fruitful outcomes.

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Theory of Acceptance and Task Closure Theory as Basis for Building the Platform of Interaction between Computer-Based and Social Environments

The success of GGSs integration depends largely on the psychological and cultural factors. In particular, technology acceptance and recognition is the step toward successful penetration to e-collaborative dimension. In this respect, specific emphasis should be placed on theory of acceptance and task closure theory that provides key steps toward gradual acquisition of necessary knowledge, experience, and skills.

In studies provided by Brown et al. (2010), attention is paid to technology acceptance as the starting point for developing mature group support systems. The concept of maturity implies the presence of models and frameworks that can be employed in a decision-making process. In particular, the researchers introduce the technology acceptance model that seeks to define “…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 issues constructs the technology acceptance model, including social presence theory and the task closure theory. The latter implies that the social presence and recipient availability constitute the key underpinnings for choosing a communication medium. The model also suggests that the above-presented qualities 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 will allow people to feel that they can efficiently achieve results while negotiating.

Aside from developing virtual collaboration, the basic function of GSSs lies in developing a social construction of meaning. Based on task closure theory, Chou and Min (2009) focus on the influence of media environment and group members on the relationship among breadth and depth of information sharing. The researchers also adhere 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” (Chou and Min, 2009, p. 428). Consequently, information support systems promote information exchange and create beneficial learning performance.

Technology acceptance is largely premised on successful knowledge management and corporate software support system that facilitates strategic decision-making and enhance the competitiveness of an organization. In fact, within the context of knowledge management, group support systems can be regarded as consultation systems the employ artificial intelligence techniques to organize knowledge and make it available for decision-making frameworks. In addition, Trivedi and Sharma, (2012) represent Group Support System in a larger conceptual framework, along with Software Support System and Technology Acceptance Model to emphasize its significance for an organization. In particular, the researchers believe that successful implementation of GGSs is possible through consideration of psychological factors that make individuals accept various types of group support systems.

The awareness of reminiscent models of support systems, as well as technology frameworks for adopting these systems, is another means for successful integration of IT-enabled technological environment. In fact, GSSs cannot exist separately from such dimensions as information sharing and exchange, knowledge management, and human factor. What is more important is that GSSs should correlate with other technology models, such as Software Support System, Decision Support System and Technology Acceptance Model. Finally, task closure theory is also indispensable to sustaining GSSs and creating a new social construct within an organization.

Group Support Systems and Value Creation in a Business Organization

As has been mentioned previously, efficiency of GSSs lies in its relevant adjustment to business and employees’ needs. In this respect, the computer-supported environment should also conform to values, mission, and ethical standards of an organization. The synergy of GSS frameworks and corporate culture can be premised on a number of issues and rationales.

System thinking often opposes the individual decision-making, but this scheme is not consistent with the actual objectives of the group support system and its contribution to value creation. At this point, Ackermann et al. (2010) argue that introduction of computer-based interactive systems adds greater value to group management. Various software devices create the link between traditional meetings and proposed virtual settings. In addition, Yao et al. (2010) state that the main advantage of GSSs lies in better awareness of problems, as compared to individual thinking. A technology-supported group has more data at its disposal than any separate member coordinating with each other. In this respect, developing a collective system is possible through GSSs only, which presents a new value for the relationships within an organization. Finally, GSSs are less likely to fail because all processes and activities are carried out in coordination, but not at an individual level.

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The significance of GSSs for a business organization is also enhanced with the resource-based capabilities that information technologies introduce. In particular, a range of IT resources creates a competitive advantage and, therefore, provides value to business activities. In this respect, Ramamani (2010) states, “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). In this respect, combining various techniques and resources within a GSS is beneficial for enhancing the value and mission of an organization. What is more important is that the success of the technology-enhanced support is ensured through pertinent interaction between organizational routines and software utilization.

With regard to the above-presented findings, it should be stressed that a decision-making process in an organization is more congruent with group thinking. The studies also suggest that successful implementation of GSSs can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of group decision-making by reducing negative effects of collective problem solving and increasing the advantages of group collaboration. Within a GSS setting, the quality of solutions can be enhanced significantly by the possibility to manipulate visual aids, individual-based incentives, group size, communication mode, types of software tools, leadership roles, and incentives.

GSSs and Efficient Leadership

There is a significant gap between development of group support system and leadership in a virtual space. In fact, traditional leadership strategies should be modified to adapt to a new business setting and take control of the employees’ engagement in technology-based environment. Although the emergence of virtual world communication has become a common issue in a global environment, there is still lack of pertinent resources and tools that could integrate these new skills and experiences into business. Nevertheless, 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.

Leadership is an important condition for fostering GSSs into traditional collaborative teams. Specifically, Boughzala et al. (2012) emphasize, “interpersonal and leadership dynamics in team collaboration are different than the real world” (p. 723). For instance, since the members of e-meetings are represented through avatars, they cannot evaluate each other’s nonverbal communication. At this point, facilitators can face difficulties in understanding the members’ perceptions and responses to collaborative processes. 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 when it comes to the facilitators whose charismatic character can be underestimated in a virtual world. Therefore, leadership in a virtual world is another important aspect that has been insufficiently examined in research literature. In order to solve this problem, Boughzala et al. (2012) suggest that leadership-team performance can be improved in case a leader substitute framework ensures team’s collaboration context, including task orientation, environment and performance. Under these circumstances, the importance of leadership will not be prioritized.

As soon as leadership frameworks are removed, an alternative environment should be created that should be not less efficient. Trust, cooperation, and mutual agreement are among the main underpinnings for establishing GSSs. In this respect, Charles (2010) proposes a fresh and interesting approach to solving this problem through engaging virtual members in a game. In particular, the scholar notes, “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” (Charles , 2010, p. 23). Playing, therefore, is often aimed at entertaining and encouraging participants to compete, interact, and communicate, with no pressure imposed on them. Therefore, such an approach can become a remarkable solution to acting in a virtual environment.

Conclusion and Chapter Summary

An in-depth evaluation of research literature has presented a wider outlook on the dimension of influence of technology-supported environment. In particular, the reviewed works overview definitions and explanations of GSSs, as well as how their integration can contribute to decision-making, flexibility, and conflict resolution in a global setting. The point is that business organizations are inclined to train and motivate their employees to utilize software for enhancing interaction and creating new, safer methods of information exchange. However, in order to successfully implement GSSs, a gap between technology and social environment should be fulfilled. The majority of scholars insist that strong theoretical framework is the key to building healthier business environment and increasing the potential of technology-enabled employees. Greater awareness of the available capabilities and resources can trigger the development of new methods and techniques that can add to the value and mission of any business organization. In particular, the analysis of theory of acceptance and task closure theory proves that GSSs are premised on the acceptance mechanisms worked in an organizational context for advancing technological innovation. What is more important is that these theories will allow employees to accept the novelties and adjust to a rapidly changing setting. Finally, value creation in a technologically savvy setting increases performance and creates a competitive advantage over other organizations. In general, the reviewed literature introduces a strong support for developing methodology and research design to answer the research questions.

Methodology and Design

Introduction

The advancement and integration of IT-enabled group support open new opportunities for organizational development and team collaboration. In this respect, it is highly important to understand the extent to which strategies should be connected with technological issues to meet the needs of companies’ objectives. Such a perspective provides management with reliable data for selecting appropriate systems and gaining a competitive advantage over other organizations. Moreover, such knowledge focuses on further improvement of GSS to ensure adjustment to innovative approaches. Thus, employing a consistent organizational framework contributes to the organization’s structures and introduces fixed standards and norms of behavior.

Problem and Purposes Overview

As the presence of group members promotes generation of ideas and integrates a solid framework for increased performance, inappropriate application of GSSs can lead to inconsistent distribution of resources, as well as ineffective communication and coordination. Traditional meetings, projects, and conferences have long been premised on face-to-face communication, as well as instant interaction between the participants. In addition, availability of all team members promotes discussion and decision-making. However, the emergence of the World Wide Web has fostered the information exchange, leading to quicker information spread among the consumers. Therefore, penetration of online communication to multi-national organizations is indispensable for reaching the international market because it allows the managers to blur the geographical boundaries. The problem is that the organization’s supervisors must create a specific training environment in which employees will be able to adjust to changes. In the majority of cases, lack of consistency in transformation of leadership, management, and communication can make GSSs are the leading obstacles to successful organizational development.

Once appropriate transition strategies are defined, GSSs can definitely enhance cohesiveness within the organizational group, assist in ideas generation, and create the link between traditional and virtual environments. The success of collaboration is closely associated with employees’ awareness, perception, and attitude. With regard to the above-presented constraints, it is important to highlight the major gaps of technology integration, as well as how efficient leadership, employees’ engagement, organization learning, and team building can be reconsidered to penetrate the new GSS environment and prove its efficiency. The main purpose of the given study lies in developing new approaches and algorithms that will allow supervisors and their subordinates to advance their technical and operate in a new online network. In addition, the research also seeks to embrace how collaboration settings and virtual communication contribute to performance and productivity. To define this, such concepts as organizational learning, leadership and employees engagement will be discussed to identify new directions of business improvement.

Research Questions

The main purpose of the study focuses on:

  1. defining the extent of organization’s readiness to employ GSSs in a traditionally structured environment,
  2. evaluating the GSSs in terms of their effectiveness for preventing the negative outcomes during meetings that threaten productivity,
  3. understanding how GSS implementation contributes to employees’ engagement, motivation, job satisfaction, and communication.

The research questions should also refer to these issues:

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

Research Hypotheses

Based on the investigated literature, it is also purpose to propose the following statement that can further be researched and tested:

  • H1: Employees can gain experience in handling software for enhancing their decision-making and communicative skills in virtual environments;
  • H2: Virtual environment creates alternative techniques for managing, controlling, and regulating employees’ relationships through new means of collaboration and leadership, such as trust, technology acceptance, and online communication.
  • H3: Team building, organizational learning, and leadership can be enhanced as soon as GSSs are successfully integrated into a traditional environment.

Population and Sample

The focus is made on assessment of technological environment, particularly GSSs, and its influence on social, behavioral, and attitudinal aspects of population responses to their successful implementation. Importantly, the population sample should not be confined to one international organization to ensure the reliability and validity of results and avoid possible limitations to the study. The research will also exclude small companies and businesses because they do not provide a global perspective on the value and purpose of GSSs. The choice of international organization involves profit entities only because not-for-profit organizations cannot be evaluated in terms of productivity, performance, and competitiveness.

With regard to the above-presented criteria, 5 greatest international companies will be assessed, including International Monetary Fund (IMF), Royal Dutch Shell plc, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Toyota, and Petrobras. All these companies have been selected to define the efficiency of implementation of GSSs with regard to diversity in location, culture, strategic management, and environment. The analysis of the chosen organizations will be premised on evaluation of literature, web-based context, and questionnaires worked out specifically for the online survey. Such an approach will allow defining the extent to which employees are ready to enter the virtual space. Finally, it is also possible to define the transition trends that each organization employs while shifting from a traditional environment to an IT-enabled group.

The methods of the research study will also be based on the framework suggested by Charles (2010) who focuses on a group of participants who were e-mailed and assigned a task to create a simple website proposal. The participants were also provided with an access to a community portal where their ideas could be delivered. More importantly, they received detailed explanations concerning how their work should be organized once the informed consent is received. The group should be divided into several sub-groups and their meetings should also be controlled by virtual group leaders. As soon as they present their website proposals, each participant should undergo online interview and answer a number of questions concerning their project. In particular, the interview questions will be split into three parts. The first part will focus on personal information analysis through multi-choice answering; the second part refers to the project description, including its purpose, scope, and idea. Finally, the last section should introduce the challenges and problems of coordination with a sub-group leader.

The participants should include employees with at least 5 years of experience in working with an organization to define the changes and transitions that occurred to an organization. It is purposeful to introduce at least 10 participants from each of the chosen organizations. What is more important, there will be 5 sub-group leaders that will be chosen after they go through the initial questionnaire. Each leader should take subordinates from various organizations to evaluate their leadership and communication skills in an objective way. In total, there will be 50 participants who will be divided into 5 groups with 5 leaders managing 9 team members each. The proposed methodological concept provides opportunities for integrating technology support and checking the way the participants can act in virtual environment. It can also provide a sufficient basis for answering the research questions and underscoring the viability of the hypotheses. Finally, the proposed scheme provides new channels for applying technology acceptance and task closure theories.

Informed Consent and Confidentiality

At each stage of conducting testing and research, ethical standards will be implemented to avoid violation of human rights, including confidentiality and information security. Thus, before conducting a survey, an invitation letter will be sent to potential participants to make sure that their decision to take part in the study is voluntary (See Appendix 1). The invitation letter will contain important information about the purpose of research, problem statement, and research questions. It will also explain to the future participants their tasks, purposes, and procedure stages. Finally, the invitation letter will ensure the responders concerning the information that will be highlighted in the research, including their age, gender, social status, cultural background and position in an organization. All these features are vital for considering the research problem.

Another important focus should refer to the ethicality of explaining the details of the proposal procedures for the teams selected online. While presenting the terms of proposal, no limitations are necessary for creating the website of their fictional company. In the course of presenting the website, the groups should respond to the research committee about their decision and challenges. Hence, each leader of the group should present weekly report of their actions, including the number of meetings conducted, the decisions made, as well as the problems that occurred during the site implementation. The participants are not limited in the choice of technological devices and software. However, the participants should employ the technology for collaboration, interaction, information exchange, and enhancing competency. In fact, the distribution of tasks among several teams creates a number of advantages for the given research. To begin with, the competition proposed among the selected teams can contribute to experience of the participants because they will work in a culturally diverse environment with new people. Under these circumstances, it is possible to define the level and pace of leader’s adjustment to a new team, as well as various strategies that the team uses to cooperate in an online setting. Second, accomplishing tasks in teams creates a competitive environment within which the members strive to outstrip themselves and produce the best results. Leadership setting and team will also be monitored because their assessment is among the primary purposes of the research. During these assessments, each member of the team should follow common rules of behavior, ethics, and morale to make sure that the competition is fair and objective. Additionally, the ethical framework will permit to definition of how quickly the teams adjust to change.

Geographic Location

Certainly, confidentiality and security issues in virtual environment should be considered differently as compared to other environments. However, the research presupposes developing a specialized instrument for predicting the employees’ integrity, as well as ability to cooperate in distant teams. The basic constructs of trustful relations should be premised on the readiness of members to sacrifice for the sake of the cooperation, ability to persuade the team members on one’s competency, and integrity by means of which a participant will be able to remain committed to the team objectives. Indeed, the geographical location plays an important independent variable in the research because it contributes to the evaluation of effectiveness of GSSs in terms of leadership, team building, collaboration, and communication.

Despite the advantage, geographical location negatively influences the participants’ observation, as well as their reaction to the new conditions of operating in a business setting.

Data Collection and Instrumentation

As has been mentioned previously, the participants will be e-mailed and the interviews will be conducted. However, the uniqueness of the research studies lies in absence of face-to-face communication during the interviews, questionnaire analysis, and surveys (See Appendix 2). This method is congruent with the purpose of the research because it will allow the researchers to objectively evaluate the net effectiveness of GSSs and their application in computer-supported settings. Hence, the interview will be conducted online and, therefore, participants will have to immediately answer the proposed questions (See Appendix 4). The time of interviewing of each participant will also be mentioned in invitation letters. All interviews will be copied and transcribed from the site to further process the information about the potential participants. Further, the participants will be e-mailed with the task for the proposal. As soon as they consider this information, the groups will be allocated and split randomly into 5 groups. Each group will be notified of their team members, including personal information, name of the organization they work for, cultural preferences, gender, age, and personal qualities. As soon as they receive the information, each group should choose the leader by sending their vote to the research committee portal. Those individuals who receive the majority of votes should head the group and develop a plan of action. The proposal should be developed in 5 weeks and, therefore, the task of the leader is to send 4 preliminary reports before the project is completed.

Data Analysis

In order to answer the research questions both statistical and qualitative means of data analysis will be used. In particular, the statistical methods will be used to analyze the information about the individuals who respond to the invitation letters and who fill out the questionnaire. The qualitative analysis will be used for assessment of reports, as well as during the online presentation of each group project. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches will be triangulated with results to verify, cross-examine, and define the nature of the findings. A factor analysis will be performed with regard to the interview answers and survey results that focus on such constructs as leadership, team building, organizational learning, and employees’ engagement. To examine the progress in the identified variables, measures of variance will be introduced (ANOVAs) using measures of collaboration as dependent variables, and group selection as an independent variable.

The dialogues conducted by means of online charts and voice mail will be recorded and transcribed by means of NVivo 9 qualitative software to enhance the accuracy of the data processing (University of Leicester, n. d.). This tool is necessary for identifying thematic nodes and exploring possible gaps, problems, and challenges that participants face while working on a technological project in an online setting. The latent thematic analysis is possible through analyzing the language and intonation of participants sending voice mails. Adopting the grounded theory is crucial for describing and decoding the participants’ information exchange because all charts among members of the team will be available to the research committee as well.

Summary

The research design focuses on 50 participants from 5 large international organizations (10 members from each). These organizations are International Monetary Fund (IMF), Royal Dutch Shell plc, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Toyota, and Petrobras. All these organizations are from different regions to enhance the importance of cultural diversity and globalization process. The participants will be split into five groups to create a website proposal. They will be surveyed and interviewed before they proceed with the proposal. The data instrumentation will involve e-mailing, interviewing, recording, and reporting. The latter should be accomplished by group leaders. While analyzing data, the researchers will be using ANOVA for verification of the collected information, as well as NVivo 9 for processing the results of interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. All the data collection and analysis procedures are aimed at analyzing the effectiveness of GSSs for enhancing employees’ engagement, leadership, organizational learning, and team building.

References

Ackermann, F., & Eden, C. (2011). Negotiation in Strategy Making Teams: Group Support Systems and the Process of Cognitive Change. Group Decision & Negotiation, 20(3), 293-314.

Ackermann, F., Andersen, D. F., Eden, C., & Richardson, G. P. (2010). Using a group decision support system to add value to group model building. System Dynamics Review (Wiley), 26(4), 335-346.

Antunes, F., & Costa, J. (2010). The Missing Link: Theoretical Reflections on Decision Reconstruction. Portuguese Journal of Management Studies, 15(2), 197-213.

Boughzala, I., de Vreede, G.-J., & Limayem, M. (2012). Team Collaboration in Virtual Worlds: Editorial to the Special Issue. Journal of the Association for Information Systems. 13(10), 714-734.

Brown, S. A., Dennis, A. R., & Venkatesh, V. (2010). Predicting Collaboration Technology Use: Integrating Technology Adoption and Collaboration Research. Journal of Management Information Systems, 27(2), 9-53.

Charles, C. (2010). Trust leveling: Building trust through play in virtual teams. (Dissertation: Purdue University, USA). 140. Web.

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Appendix 1: Invitation Letter

Dear Participants,

We are glad to inform you about our scientific exploration objectives and we would like you to participate in the research. The main objective of our study lies in examining the effectiveness of GSSs in terms of efficient leadership, employees’ engagement, organization learning, and team building. Hence, the given evaluation is an excellent opportunity to exchange experience and acquire knowledge about working in virtual environment. The study will be presented as a competition among 5 teams with one leader and nine team members who will be working on a specialized project in collaboration. Each participant will have to respond to questions and go through an interview. The leader of each group will be chosen by means of secret voting. Our research committee will decide how groups will be divided. We hope that this project has interested you and, therefore, we are looking forward to your response.

Best regards,

The Research Committee.

Appendix 2: Questionnaire

How old are you?

  • 25-35;
  • 35-45;
  • 45 – older;

Gender (tick the relevant answer):

  • Male;
  • Female;

Specify your job position:

  • Manager;
  • Subordinate;
  1. What software do you use while achieving professional goals?_____________________________
  2. How often do you communicate with your colleagues online?_______________________________
  3. Are you competent enough in managing new technology?_________________________________
  4. What do you know about GSSs?___________________________________________________
  5. Are there any challenges in collaborating distantly?______________________________________
  6. What is the purpose of global business?______________________________________________

Appendix 3: Interview Questions (for leaders)

  1. Do you think GSS can substitute face-to-face communication? Why? Why not?
  2. What are the basic challenges of organizing a website project?
  3. How do you manage conflict situations in a virtual space?
  4. What tools do you plan to use for managing the project? Do you prefer telephone calls, online conferences, or e-mail?
  5. Do you prefer to establish meetings to make decisions or do you communicate with each member individually?
  6. Evaluate the level of trust relations among the project team:
  • Sufficient;
  • Insufficient;
  • No trust;
  1. Do all members of the team are eager to use new software tools?
  2. Are all members competent in applying digital devices in designing, calculating, and processing data?
  3. Do all participants use GSSs or prefer designing other interactive tools to collaborate with colleagues?
  4. What are the main incentives for employees to be engaged in a virtual project accomplishment?
  5. How have the roles among the team members been distributed? Is there a person who has been responsible for design? Application? Management?
  6. How often do your organization often GSSs?
  7. Have you ever heard of computer-based support systems?
  8. What skills do you possess for managing IT devices?

Interview Questions (For Subordinates)

  1. Which roles do you believe are the most appropriate in the team?
  • Facilitator;
  • Designer;
  • Practitioner;
  1. What are the main constraints for group a decision-making process?
  2. Do you trust your leader and colleagues?
  3. What do you know about GSSs, technology-supported environments?
  4. How often do you communicate with your colleagues online?
  5. Do you think organizations can operate without online network systems?
  6. Do you often face misunderstandings while interacting with your colleague online?
  7. Are you satisfied with the way your leader acts using GSSs?
  8. Under which circumstances can a virtual space successfully contribute to project accomplishment?