Using collaboration technology to facilitate face-to-face and distributed team interactions
KeywordsBusiness Administration, Management.
AdvisorNunamaker, Jay F., Jr.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study adopted an action research approach to investigate the efficacy of Focus Theory, a general theory of group productivity, in the context of project team interactions supported by GSS. Focus Theory specifies that three processes consume attention resources to accomplish a group task: communication, information access, and deliberation. Guided by Focus Theory, the study examined the ways in which these processes were manifested, facilitated, and/or inhibited during group interactions, as well as how these processes and other Focus Theory constructs affected group productivity when teams engaged in FtF, synchronous-distributed, and asynchronous-distributed interactions. The objective of the study was to gain understanding of distributed team interactions through the lens of Focus Theory and to offer insights into the theory, the practice of geographically separated project teams, and collaboration technology design. Distributed groups using text for communication lost nonverbal cues that could have been used to interpret the meaning of a message. The study indicated that identification of the message sender and specification of the time and date of a message allowed more accurate interpretation of that message. It was found that distributed teams did not understand the team goals and interaction procedures as well as FtF teams. Group process structure support and interaction facilitation were more important for distributed interactions than for FtF interactions because of the need for explicit communication in distributed teams. Access to relevant information was important for keeping interactions moving forward, and a permanent group memory provided by GSS facilitated group activity tracking. Focus Theory had both explanatory power and theoretical limitations. The study indicated that three processes consumed attention resources, although it was difficult to separate their effects or to measure the attention resources allocated to each. Focus Theory does not differentiate between cognitive effort and cognitive load, making it difficult to test the theory's validity. The three processes may not be equally important in all group interaction scenarios, a possibility not specified by Focus Theory. This dissertation discusses the implications of the study for further development of the theory, insights for researchers of collaboration, guidelines for collaboration technology designers, and everyday tips for practitioners.
Degree ProgramGraduate College