CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

Paper Report

Title: Work Group Structures and Computer Support: A Field Experiment
Authors: Eveland, J.D., and Bikson, T.K.
Citation: ACM Transactions in Office Information Systems, 6, 4 (October 1988), pp. 354-379.
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M. Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco, 1993, pp. 443-455.

This paper focuses on the impact of technology on the work group. The authors claimed that any interactive technology introduced would act as a web: individuals become interdependent on each other and on the technology for accomplishing their work. An experiment was conducted to test this claim.

Retired and actively employed volunteers were recruited for 2 task forces. They worked for a year to develop a set of recommendations about pre-retirement planning. One of the task forces had the option of communicating with the aid of technology. For this group, usage logs and network data were collected. Interviews were also administered to all participants.

Results indicated that the two groups differed significantly in their structures and how they accomplished their tasks. Subcommittee structures persisted for both groups, but the electronic group also developed a procedurally based work group structure to facilitate task completion.

The standard task force showed well-defined relationship clusters after 3 months while the electronic task force did not. There was also a greater stability of leadership roles in the standard task force which was not present in the electronic task force.

Finally, the electronic task force also became more positive about task involvement and greater levels of satisfaction with the accomplishments of the group.

Several conclusions were obtained from this study, for example:

Report prepared by: Dion Goh            Email: diong@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 2/24/97            Report date: 2/25/97