Information Exchange and Use in Group Decision Making: You Can Lead a Group to Information, But You Can't Make It Think

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Organizations often build groups with members from different areas so that a wider range of information and opinions can be considered. When members of such groups share the information they have, the group as a whole can access a larger pool of information than any one member acting alone, potentially enabling them to make better decisions. This experiment studied groups working on a hidden profile task in which each participant received different (but not conflicting) information about the task, which they needed to combine to identify the optimal decision. Verbally interacting groups exchanged only a small portion of the available information and made poor decisions as a result. Groups interacting using a GSS exchanged about 50% more information, providing sufficient information to enable all groups to identify the optimal decision. However, GSS groups did not accurately process this information -- only one GSS group chose the optimal decision. Possible explanations for this lack of information processing are that participants were unable to integrate into their existing base of information the information received during discussions, that the way in which the GSS was used impeded information processing, that the anonymity and delayed feedback in the GSS reduced the credibility of new information so that participants chose not to process it, or that information in the GSS was less salient than verbally contributed information.

Additional Details

Author Alan R. Dennis
Year 1996
Volume 20
Issue 4
Keywords GSS, group support systems, information exchange, hidden profile
Page Numbers 433-457