Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 3 Number 4 1987 pp. 5-19

Facilitating Group Creativity: Experience with a Group Decision Support System

Nunamaker Jr, Jay F, Applegate, Lynda M, and Konsynski, Benn R

ABSTRACT: This paper reports on the results of research on the use of a group decision support system (GDSS) for idea generation and analysis within a planning and decision laboratory environment. Our experience to date in the use of the idea generation models suggests that the technology does significantly influence the planning process. The automated version of the brainstorming model appears to neutralize many of the group effects that have been responsible for poor performance of group brainstorming in the past. Anonymity is maintained and group members appear to express their true feelings without fear of social disapproval. In addition, the automated idea generation models appear to neutralize the effects of an authority hierarchy in the group. The models allow parallel processing of ideas and prevent one group member from dominating the group discussion. All ideas are automatically recorded in the computer and are stored within the knowledge base for use throughout the planning process. Several factors that inhibit the idea generation process have also been identified. These include the limits imposed on the "world view" of the problem as a result of the size of the computer screen, the unfamiliarity of the keyboard interface as a creative tool for executives, and the limitations of the network for processing multiple, simultaneous file transfers. Data indicate that the benefits of the Electronic Brainstorming process definitely outweigh the problems in the view of the planners. They report high levels of satisfaction with the outcome of planning sessions using the models and the process used to achieve those outcomes. They rated the computer as an important tool for idea generation, and those planners who had used a manual brainstorming model in the past rated the computer brainstorming process as "much better" than manual brainstorming. The study reported in this paper was descriptive in nature and designed to generate hypotheses that will form the basis for...

Key words and phrases: strategy, group decision support systems, decision making, brainstorming, idea generation, creativity, productivity tools, planning aids, decision room