The communication logics of computer-supported facilitative interventions: A study of the community of practice and social technologies surrounding the use of group decision support systems in process facilitation
AuthorAakhus, Mark Alan, 1964-
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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.
AbstractComputer supported facilitation is a form of third party intervention that uses advanced information technology to deliver non-authoritative intervention on organizational decision making. The goal of this type of intervention is to create communication events where decision making and decision outcomes are collaboratively produced by those who have a stake in the decision. The facilitator's role is to assure decision making progress without taking sides or rendering a final decision. The obligations of facilitation form competing injunctions for practicing facilitation. Facilitative intervention must be performed so that it influences decision activity without influencing decision outcomes, facilitators must participate in decision making without becoming a party to the decision, and facilitators must enforce decision procedures without coercing participant acceptance of the procedures. The evolution of the field is marked by innovations in practice and role definitions that seek more effective means to reconcile the competing demands of the role and the changing circumstances of the intervention context. Computer supported facilitation is a technologically advanced form of intervention that combine skills of facilitators with the capacities of collaborative computing technology to more efficiently and effectively deliver decisions for organizations facing a choice. The facilitator designs and carries out interventions by using group decision support systems that enable anonymous participation, simultaneous communication of ideas, geographic and chronological distribution of participation, and the electronic storage of contributions. This investigation finds that while technical advances help facilitators overcome the numerous barriers to decision making communication, the advances in technique and technology are prescriptions for decision making communication built on inadequate descriptive assumptions about the nature of communication. The community of facilitation practice and its technologies operate on the dubious assumption that communication process and content are in fact distinct. The community of practice, however, is caught up in preserving this distinction as its solution to the paradoxes of doing non-authoritative intervention. The dissertation demonstrates this state of affairs by showing the set of premises for facilitative action embodied in the process management view of the practice, the methods of transparency work which uphold intervention neutrality, and the way the community treats an innovation on practice.
Degree ProgramGraduate College