Understanding computer-mediated discussions: Positivist and interpretive analyses of group support system use

Eileen M. Trauth, Leonard Michael Jessup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

176 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This research considers whether interpretive techniques can be used to enhance our understanding of computer-mediated discussions. The case study considered in this research is the use of a group support system (GSS) to support employee discussions about gender equity in a university. Transcripts of the four discussions were analyzed using two analysis techniques: a positivist approach, which was focused on the GSS sessions themselves, and an interpretive approach which broadened the scope to include contextual considerations as well. What emerged from the positivist analysis was the conclusion of effective group behavior directed toward consensus around alternative solution scenarios. What emerged from the interpretive analysis was evidence of multiple, rich types of information at three levels: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The interpretive analysis also uncovered the absence of shared consciousness about the issue and imbalanced participation in the sessions. Comparison of the results of both approaches showed that, while the positivist analysis provided useful information, the interpretive analysis provided a different understanding of the same evidence and new information not found in the positivist analysis of the group discussions. This research adds to the body of knowledge concerning the effects of virtual group meetings on the type of information that is shared and the value of a combination of positivist and interpretive analyses of GSS data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-78
Number of pages36
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Volume24
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Group
Personnel
Group support systems
Interpretive
group discussion
evidence
consciousness
equity
employee
scenario
participation
university
gender
knowledge
Values

Keywords

  • Anonymity
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Ethnography
  • Gender
  • Group decision making
  • Group decision support system
  • Hermeneutics
  • Information richness
  • Interpretive methods
  • IS research methodologies
  • Positivist methods
  • Virtual group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Management Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management

Cite this

@article{b4afe3061bf24ea280c0516a70a68c21,
title = "Understanding computer-mediated discussions: Positivist and interpretive analyses of group support system use",
abstract = "This research considers whether interpretive techniques can be used to enhance our understanding of computer-mediated discussions. The case study considered in this research is the use of a group support system (GSS) to support employee discussions about gender equity in a university. Transcripts of the four discussions were analyzed using two analysis techniques: a positivist approach, which was focused on the GSS sessions themselves, and an interpretive approach which broadened the scope to include contextual considerations as well. What emerged from the positivist analysis was the conclusion of effective group behavior directed toward consensus around alternative solution scenarios. What emerged from the interpretive analysis was evidence of multiple, rich types of information at three levels: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The interpretive analysis also uncovered the absence of shared consciousness about the issue and imbalanced participation in the sessions. Comparison of the results of both approaches showed that, while the positivist analysis provided useful information, the interpretive analysis provided a different understanding of the same evidence and new information not found in the positivist analysis of the group discussions. This research adds to the body of knowledge concerning the effects of virtual group meetings on the type of information that is shared and the value of a combination of positivist and interpretive analyses of GSS data.",
keywords = "Anonymity, Computer-mediated communication, Ethnography, Gender, Group decision making, Group decision support system, Hermeneutics, Information richness, Interpretive methods, IS research methodologies, Positivist methods, Virtual group",
author = "Trauth, {Eileen M.} and Jessup, {Leonard Michael}",
year = "2000",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "24",
pages = "43--78",
journal = "MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems",
issn = "0276-7783",
publisher = "Management Information Systems Research Center",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Understanding computer-mediated discussions

T2 - Positivist and interpretive analyses of group support system use

AU - Trauth, Eileen M.

AU - Jessup, Leonard Michael

PY - 2000

Y1 - 2000

N2 - This research considers whether interpretive techniques can be used to enhance our understanding of computer-mediated discussions. The case study considered in this research is the use of a group support system (GSS) to support employee discussions about gender equity in a university. Transcripts of the four discussions were analyzed using two analysis techniques: a positivist approach, which was focused on the GSS sessions themselves, and an interpretive approach which broadened the scope to include contextual considerations as well. What emerged from the positivist analysis was the conclusion of effective group behavior directed toward consensus around alternative solution scenarios. What emerged from the interpretive analysis was evidence of multiple, rich types of information at three levels: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The interpretive analysis also uncovered the absence of shared consciousness about the issue and imbalanced participation in the sessions. Comparison of the results of both approaches showed that, while the positivist analysis provided useful information, the interpretive analysis provided a different understanding of the same evidence and new information not found in the positivist analysis of the group discussions. This research adds to the body of knowledge concerning the effects of virtual group meetings on the type of information that is shared and the value of a combination of positivist and interpretive analyses of GSS data.

AB - This research considers whether interpretive techniques can be used to enhance our understanding of computer-mediated discussions. The case study considered in this research is the use of a group support system (GSS) to support employee discussions about gender equity in a university. Transcripts of the four discussions were analyzed using two analysis techniques: a positivist approach, which was focused on the GSS sessions themselves, and an interpretive approach which broadened the scope to include contextual considerations as well. What emerged from the positivist analysis was the conclusion of effective group behavior directed toward consensus around alternative solution scenarios. What emerged from the interpretive analysis was evidence of multiple, rich types of information at three levels: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The interpretive analysis also uncovered the absence of shared consciousness about the issue and imbalanced participation in the sessions. Comparison of the results of both approaches showed that, while the positivist analysis provided useful information, the interpretive analysis provided a different understanding of the same evidence and new information not found in the positivist analysis of the group discussions. This research adds to the body of knowledge concerning the effects of virtual group meetings on the type of information that is shared and the value of a combination of positivist and interpretive analyses of GSS data.

KW - Anonymity

KW - Computer-mediated communication

KW - Ethnography

KW - Gender

KW - Group decision making

KW - Group decision support system

KW - Hermeneutics

KW - Information richness

KW - Interpretive methods

KW - IS research methodologies

KW - Positivist methods

KW - Virtual group

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0012758341&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0012758341&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0012758341

VL - 24

SP - 43

EP - 78

JO - MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems

JF - MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems

SN - 0276-7783

IS - 1

ER -