Voting in group support systems : theory, implementation, and results from an exploratory study
Department of Information Systems
Doctor of Philosophy
Deek, Fadi P.
McHugh, James A.
Scher, Julian M.
Kirova, Vassilka D.
Group support system
Group decision making is essential in organizations. Group Support Systems (GSS) can aide groups in making decisions by providing tools and process support. GSS is especially useful for geographically or temporally distributed groups. Researchers of GSS have pointed out that convergence processes are hard to accomplish in GSS. Voting tools in GSS can be a valuable asset in alleviating the difficulty of convergence processes because voting is a concise communication of individual preferences with a well defined procedure that is accepted by group members. In addition, voting results can serve as a group memory of the convergence processes. Field observations by researchers have shown that using voting in GSS can lead to many positive outcomes. Researchers also suggest that rather than using voting blindly, voting should be used properly in GSS to achieve desired results. However, there is an insufficiency of theory and experiments in research of voting in GSS. Voting with the computation power and communication capability in GSS can have a pronounced effect on decision processes and outcomes. In order to gain better understanding of voting in GSS, a framework was developed by expanding existing frameworks of GSS with factors related to voting. These factors were scrutinized for their potential effects on processes and outcomes. Several ways of classifying voting methods were also discussed. The framework can be used as a guiding basis for future research and usage of voting in GSS.
Functionalities of sophisticated voting tools to support group decision making were explored based on the proposed GSS voting framework, related theories and studies, and review of existing GSS voting tools and practices. Approaches for integration of sophisticated voting tools with existing GSS were also discussed.
Data were collected from an exploratory experiment to examine the effects of bandwidth of voting methods. While there is no significant difference in levels of consensus between the two voting method bandwidth conditions, groups with a high bandwidth voting method use less rounds of voting and posted fewer messages during discussion than groups with low voting bandwidth methods do. Subjective measures such as information use, group cohesiveness, decision confidence, and satisfaction although not significant in statistical tests, did show a trend in the direction as the framework predicted. Factors for effectively utilizing voting tools in group decision processes were also discussed by comparing the interactions of groups reaching a high level or low level of consensus.
Using voting for group decisions is a complex issue. Organizations and groups can benefit by using voting for reaching decisions more effectively and efficiently with better understanding of voting in group decision making. Several lines of future researches on voting and GSS were proposed. Possible topics include theory building/validation, tools implementation/application, and organizational impact. The framework presented in this research is only the beginning for better understanding of voting and group decision making.
njit-etd2009-003 (250 pages ~ 10,307 KB pdf)
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Created October 24, 2010