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


Paper Report

Title: Electronic Groups at Work
Authors: Tom Finholt and Lee S. Sproull
Citation: Organization Science, Vol. 1, No. 1. 1990
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M, Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco, 1993 , pp.431-442


Groups and group behavior are consequential for organizational performance and for individual group members. New computer-based technology may affect groups and group behavior in organizations.

Social groups in organizations benefit their members by providing information resources, emotional resources, and identity support. Social groups benefit the organization by coordinating individual participation, organizing productive work, and providing a mechanism for specialized learning.

Previous research on social groups in organizations has emphasized three classes of variables relevant to communication:

  1. Group attributes: including physical setting, member characteristics, and membership criteria.
  2. Group Processes : including interaction, influence attempts, and identity maintenance.
  3. Organizational consequences.
The focus of this article is on group communication. In many systems, a list of people's names and computer addresses, sometimes called a distribution list (DL), is given a name. The research is to analyze data from all respondents in the sample survey to characterize their DL mail behavior.

Some notion of formal and informal groups as membership distinction has an analogy in electronic DLs. Electronic group membership may be either required or discretionary.

Research questions:

Questions discussed in class:
Report prepared by: Haowei Hsieh, Email: haowei@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 02/24/97            Report date: 02/26/97