Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 15 Number 2 1998 pp. 173-197

Information Is What You Make of It: The Influence of Group History and Computer Support on Information Sharing, Decision Quality, and Member Perceptions

Mennecke, Brian E and Valacich, Joseph S

ABSTRACT: Researchers have proposed that the contradictions observed between past group support system (GSS) laboratory and field research may be partially accounted for by the ad-hoc nature of the groups that are often used in the laboratory. To examine this, a laboratory experiment examining the influence of group history (i.e., established versus ad-hoc groups) and the level of computer support (i.e., communicating via a computer-mediated system versus face-to-face) was conducted. Dependent variables examined in the research include information-sharing performance, decision quality, and member perceptions. Subjects completed a hidden profile task--a task where some information is held by all group members prior to the meeting, while other information is held only by a subset of the group. As expected, established groups discussed less unique information than ad-hoc groups. In addition, information sharing was positively related to the quality of group decisions. Members of established groups were more satisfied than members of ad-hoc groups; members using the computer-mediated system were less satisfied than those communicating face-to-face. In addition, group cohesion was positively related to satisfaction and decision quality. The results are discussed in the context of prior theory and research. Opportunities for future research are also described.

Key words and phrases: decision-group history, group cohesion, group support systems, information sharing