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Generating group agreement in cooperative computer-mediated groups: Towards an integrative model of group interaction

This study addresses the problem of generating agreement in computer-mediated groups. The key entities of group interaction are proposed to be the task, the other individuals, and the group. Extending this three way categorisation across the input-process-output framework suggests an integrative model with three processes (task resolution, interpersonal relating, and group representation), three levels of social influence (informational influence, personal influence, and normative influence), and three types of output (task results, relationships, and agreement). The background upon which these processes operate is the communication setting. A proposed taxonomy of communication settings suggests the natural setting for generating electronic group agreement is asynchronous, many-to-many interaction. Describing non-task group activities as "process losses" denies group combining behaviour, and raises the "group effectiveness paradox", where groups expend more effort to produce less. The integrative model accounts for group activities without paradox. The generation of agreement in cooperative groups is attributed to the "identification" of individuals with the group. Members who identify with a group, tend to accept the group's decisions as their own. This process may use relatively simple position information embedded within multi-threaded communications, rather than complex "social" information. If so, computer-mediated groups can enact agreement across plain text networks. Software was written to simulate asynchronous, many-to-many exchange of position information. Anonymous computer-mediated groups sat multi-choice tests under blind, group aware and confidence aware conditions. The exchange of position information alone produced a significant change in agreement, although neither medium nor exchanged information were "rich", no reasons were given, and there was no personal "presence" or discussion. It was concluded that computer-mediated groups can enact agreement. The method adopted, of isolating one process within a single communication setting, is recommended for research. However for practical implementation, a balance of all three processes is suggested, as all have a role in group interaction.
Type of thesis
Whitworth, B. (1997). Generating group agreement in cooperative computer-mediated groups: Towards an integrative model of group interaction (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14061
The University of Waikato
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