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Title:Does the medium matter: An investigation of process, performance, and affect in computer-mediated and face-to-face groups
Author(s):Straus, Susan Gail
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McGrath, Joseph E.
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Business Administration, Management
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Business Administration, Management
Psychology, Industrial
Abstract:This study investigates the interaction of communication media and task characteristics on group interaction, performance, and satisfaction. McGrath's (1984) framework of group tasks and Daft and Lengel's (1984; 1986) theory of information richness were used as a basis to formulate and test the following premise: As tasks more equivocal, or involve increasing levels of difficulty in achieving group consensus, social and contextual cues will have a greater impact on group processes and task outcomes. Because media vary in their capacity to transmit such cues, there will be an interaction of task type and media on process and outcome measures showing smaller differences between media conditions for unequivocal tasks and greater differences between media conditions for more equivocal tasks. This premise was tested in a 2 (media) x 3 (task type) x 6 (order) x 2 (sex composition) experiment. Three-person groups (n = 72) communicated either in computer conferences or in face-to-face meetings. Groups worked on three tasks that have increasingly difficult requirements for achieving consensus (idea generation, intellective or problem-solving, and decision-making tasks). The order of tasks was counter-balanced and groups were composed of either all males or all females. In contrast to face-to-face groups, computer-mediated groups engaged in far less communication, had higher proportions of task to total communication, expressed higher proportions of disagreement, and showed more equal distribution of participation across group members. Contrary to prior research, computer-mediated groups did not express more negative interpersonal communication and they expressed greater proportions of positive interpersonal communication than face-to-face groups. Face-to-face groups were considerably more productive and the interaction of task type and media affected quantity of products as expected, however, media had little effect on the quality of performance in less equivocal tasks. The predicted interaction also was observed on members' affective reactions in that computer-mediated groups were more dissatisfied for tasks in which decision outcomes were influenced by personal opinions and values. Computer-mediated groups also reported lower levels of interpersonal attraction. Results are discussed in terms of the implications of using computer-mediated communication systems to support work in organizations.
Issue Date:1992
Rights Information:Copyright 1992 Straus, Susan Gail
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9215888
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9215888

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