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


Paper Report

Title: Experiences at IBM with Group Support Systems: A Field Study
Authors: Jay Nunamaker, Doug Vogel, Alan Heminger, Ben Martz, Ron Grohowski, Chris McGoff
Citation: 1989, Elsevier Science Publishers
Reprinted in: Pages 740-754, Baecker


Name: Abhijit Rele Title: Authors: Appeared: Pg. , Baecker Year:

Inspite of numerous laboratory studies being conducted, virtually no attention has been given to how well an operational Group Support System functions in a real world, organizational setting. This paper presents the results of a Group Support System fiel d study conducted at an IBM manufacturing site having 6000 employees. Results of the study are compared with the experimental studies addressing similar issues. Limitations are discussed and directions for future field and experimental research to resolve differences are identified.

The authors start off by outlining the chronology of events and experiences that took place in conjunction with the implementation of University of Arizona Group Support System software at an IBM site. Facility use overviews provided and data collection p rocedures are reviewed.

The next section of the paper reports the summarized results from sessions using the Group Support System. First, the authors talk about system effectiveness, comprised of quality of session process and quality of outcome, and how it was measured. They th en discuss system efficiency, which is an indication of the relative costs and benefits to the organization compared with doing the task manually, and how average man-hour savings resulted after using the system. Evaluation of user satisfaction is then di scussed. Two strong measures of user satisfaction are the high utilization rate and the decision to install automated group rooms at additional company sites.

A comparison with laboratory experiments is presented next. They observed that the group tasks in their study were more complex by nature and required the coordinated input of many people. Quality was improved for more complex meetings. There is partial a greement between experimental and field results when differences resulting from the introduction of structure are equalized. The efficiency of automated support becomes increasingly apparent as group size increases. Experimental studies have expressed mix ed results regarding user satisfaction. However, in their study user satisfaction with their system was strongly confirmed.

The limitations of the system are finally pointed out and some directions for future research are presented. Various issues related to group, task, context, technology limitations and process need to be addressed. Additional research is warranted to expan d field observations and integrate aspects of field and experimental research in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the implications for organizations of the adoption of Group Support Systems.


Report prepared by: Abhijit Rele                  Email: abhijitr@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion Date: March 31, 1997            Report Date: April 2, 1997