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Culture and Anonymity in GSS Meetings

Culture and Anonymity in GSS Meetings
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Author(s): Moez Limayem (University of Arkansas, USA)and Adel Hendaoui (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 7
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch141


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Managers spend a considerable part of their work time in meetings participating in group decision making. Group support systems (GSSs) are adopted in a variety of group settings?from within-organization team to multi-organization collaboration teams (Ackermann, Franco, Gallupe, & Parent, 2005)?to aid the decision-making process (Briggs, Nunamaker, & Sprague, 1998). A key characteristic of GSSs is anonymity, which improves various aspects of group performance, including improving group participation and communication, objectively evaluating ideas, and enhancing group productivity and the decision-making process (Nunamaker, Dennis, Valacich, Vogel, & George, 1991; Pinsonneault & Heppel, 1997; Postmes & Lea, 2000). Anonymity, as a distinct aspect of GSSs, was expected to increase productivity by reducing the level of social or production blocking, increasing the number of interpersonal exchanges, and reducing the probability of any one member dominating the meeting (Newby, Soutar, & Watson, 2003). For example, Barreto and Ellemers (2002) manipulated two aspects of anonymity separately: visibility of respondents (i.e., participants could or could not see who the other group members were) and visibility of responses (participants could or could not see the responses given by other group members). Results show that when group identification is low, anonymity manipulations affect group members’ effort. Similarly, in their experiment, Reinig and Mejias (2004) found that anonymous groups produced more critical comments than identified groups did at the group level of analysis. Numerous empirical findings have suggested that the use of anonymity and process structure in electronic brainstorming (EBS) generally promotes a positive effect on the number of ideas generated (Jessup, Connolly, & Galegher, 1990; Gallupe, Bastianutti, & Cooper, 1991) and quality of ideas achieved in decision making (Zigurs & Buckland, 1998). However, the anonymity function inherent in multiworkstation GSSs has been found to heighten conflict as members tend to communicate more aggressively because they tend to be more critical (Connolly, Jessup, & Valacich, 1990; Jessup, Connolly, & Tansik, 1990; Valacich, Jessup, Dennis, & Nunamaker, 1992), to have no effects on inhibition (Valacich, Dennis, & Connoly, 1994; Valacich et al., 1992), to increase group polarization (Sia, Tan, & Wei, 2002), and to have no effects on group performance (Valacich et al., 1994). Other studies show that, in terms of effectiveness, nominal brainstorming may be equal to (Gallupe et al., 1991; Cooper, Gallupe, Pollard, & Cadsby, 1998; Barki & Pinsonneault, 2001) or sometimes less than (Valacich et al., 1994; Dennis & Valacich, 1993) electronic brainstorming, indicating that at least as far as laboratory studies are concerned, empirical investigations have been inconclusive.

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