GROUPWARE, GROUP DYNAMICS,
AND TEAM PERFORMANCE
JAMES E. DRISKELL AND EDUARDO SALAS
Groupware refers to software that supports group performance. At the
very broadest level, groupware may include a variety of applications, including electronic mail (e-mail), document-sharing software, electronic meeting
systems, videoconferencing, calendar-scheduling systems, decision support
systems,and Intranet or Web-based networks. Just to stretch the concept
a bit f urther, if we consider technology that supports group performance,
then we would include such old standbys as flip charts, voice messaging,
intercoms, and telephones. Thus, the requirement to support collaborative
activities and attempts to harness technology to address these needs are
certainly not new phenomena. Wecan distinguish groupware from these
earlier efforts in that groupware is digital or software based, and the development of groupware has occurred relatively recently, in the 1980s and 1990s,
emerging from the success of individual software applications.
In this chapter, we do not a ttempt a traditional review of the groupware
literature—a somewhat daunting task in itself, given the nature ofthis
very broad and diverse literature. We focus instead on the group dynamics
underlying the development of effective groupware. The term groupware is
a hybrid of the words group and software. We argue that the groupware
development literature has overemphasized the software approach to product
development and almost ignored the group dynamics that determine groupware effectiveness.Moreover, we argue that this is a principal reason why
groupware has not achieved greater acceptance and success in supporting
First, we discuss the current status and limitations of groupware research; then we address challenges in supporting collaborative activities in
distributed teams. Third, we develop and elaborate a group dynamics model
of groupware development thatemphasizes the specific functions or activities
that teams perform and contextual factors that affect team interaction.
Finally, we discuss one area, distributed or distance learning, in which collaborative-support tools are extensively incorporated.
It is important to note that some groupware applications have had a
significant and extensive impact on how people collaborate. Forexample,
the use of e-mail has ushered in a significant change in how people interact
at a distance. Recent surveys indicate that more than 57 million Americans
use e-mail at work (Fallows, 2002); however, many researchers argue that,
broadly viewed, groupware has fallen short of achieving its potential. Kline
and McGrath (1999) noted that there is a substantial gap between what
has beenpromised by various groupware applications and what has been
delivered. Grudin (2002) offered a revealing anecdote, recalling that when
the Institute for the Future convened a panel of experts in 1990 to discuss
groupware, they used an electronic meeting system to coordinate activities.
In 2001, this group again convened its expert panel but used pen, paper,
and flip charts instead of digitaltechnology. We believe there are several
reasons for the f ailure of groupware to achieve broader acceptance and
application as a tool to support team performance.
The first concern that must be addressed is "Where is the group in
groupware ?" A substantial proportion of groupware development efforts take
place in departments of computer science, management information systems,
andindustrial engineering. In contrast, the m ajority of research on group
performance, group processes, and group dynamics takes place in departments
of psychology, sociology, and social psychology. Grudin (1994) noted that
the development of software for individual users relies heavily on the informed intuition of software designers supplemented by input from human
factors, engineers, or cognitive...
Leer documento completo
Regístrate para leer el documento completo.