0342.555B Information Management in Organisations Information Systems Literature Assignment Subject Area: Group Decision Support Systems Prepared By: Gareth Tucker, 9502788 Submitted On: 17/9/1998 1.0 Introduction
This essay examines the current state of information systems research and looks aheadtowards future research direction. The demand for research topics and methods isassessed to find a contemporary topic suitable for future research. Upon the identificationof a topic a literature review is conducted to bring to the surface the current key issueswithin that subject area. Following this process, a proposal is presented for futureresearch and a target journal is identified. 2.0 Assessment of Demand for Topics & Research Methods
To assess current demand for topics and research methods in the field of informationsystems research a review of six journals and three conferences was conducted. Thejournal review will be discussed first. 2.1 Journal Review
1. Management Information Systems Quarterly2. Journal of Systems and Information Technology3. Journal of Strategic Information Systems4. Information Systems Research5. Australian Journal of Information Systems6. Journal of Management Information Systems
The survey included an analysis of editors' comments and author guidelines from thecurrent and previous year's issues (contingent on journal availability). In addition, thecurrent year's publications were reviewed in more detail with topics and research methodsnoted. Combined, this analysis provided an indication of what is considered currently indemand from IS journals. The following is a summary of the findings of the survey. Eachof the six journals will be examined separately, beginning with Management InformationSystems Quarterly. 2.1.1 Management Information Systems Quarterly (MISQ) Editorial comments MISQ were very clear on what they did not want. They did not want a formalised description of an application, a methodology, or a practise. They did not want discussions of the inherent nature of information technology (IT). Rather, the focus of the journal is on how IT's are managed and how they are used (and the implications of such use). It was stated that is relevant to focus on the learning experience involved and how that knowledge can improve decision making. A special mention was made in one issue of the year 2000 problem. It was recognised that as the problem will affect so many companies
it offers a unique research opportunity for the comparison of IT strategies. MISQ saythey are open to all appropriate research methods and stated a preference towardshistorical research. Published this yearPreventative research designData resource management in distributed environmentsSituational information technology ethicsInformation systems service qualityCreativity support systems
Research methods employedCritique of past research 20%Survey-based research 40%Longitudinal study 20%Experimental research 20%
2.1.2 Journal of Systems and Information Technology(JS&IT) Editorial Comments JS&IT request articles on information technology issues that address the topic from a systemic or holistic perspective. Relevant subject matter within this construct includes information technology, information systems development, and information systems management. Articles should examine social and political aspects as well as the technical. Interpretative or qualitative research methods are requested with specific mention made of ethnographic, genealogical, action, and case study methods. Published this yearInformation technology solutions for data integrationMulti-disciplinary research team for information systems research
Research methods employedLongitudinal study 50%Case Study 50%
2.1.3 Journal of Strategic Information Systems (JSIS) Editorial comments JSIS accept articles that examine the evaluation and application of information technology for strategic purposes. The articles should evaluate management, business and organisational issues. Topics should illustrate practical experience and show applicability. In one issue a call was made for contributions from non-English speaking countries. Statistics given in one issue indicate the major topic area published in JSIS as being "strategic information system planning / business alignment" (accounted for 21% of past topics published). Published this yearTransnational information systemsStrategic use of electronic data interchange in the public sectorSuccess factors for decision support systems
Research methods employedCase study 67%Action research 33%
2.1.4 Information Systems Research (ISR) Editorial comments This journal requests submissions that further knowledge that aids in productive application of information technology. Submissions can either build on established work or be ground breaking. The journal states any research method will be acceptable but states a preference towards work that draws upon theoretical, analytical and empirical methods. Specific mention is made that only the highest quality work will be accepted. Published this yearExchange processes and organisationsFacilitator influence in GSSSemantic structuring and representation of facts in requirements analysisIntegrated modelling environments in organisationsImpact of information technology investments in newly industrialised economies
Research methods employedCase study 20%Theoretical discussion 20%Experimental research 20%Empirical study 20%Analytical 20%
2.1.5 Australian Journal of Information Systems(AJIS) Editorial comments AJIS provide very little indication as to what submissions they will accept. It was stated though, that articles must contribute to information systems theory and practise. This is very general and provides little guidance as to what subject matter and research methods AJIS prefer. Published this yearKnowledge discovery in spatio-temporal information systemsGuidelines for development and management of transnational information systemsIntegrated business applicationsEfficient consumer responseHolistic information systems evaluationCEO view of Australian information systems management
Research methods employedTheoretical discussion 30%Empirical study 10%Case study 20%Longitudinal study 10%Survey-based research 20%Comparative research 10%
2.1.6 Journal of Management Information Systems(JMIS) Editorial comments JMIS accepts submissions that advance the practise and understanding of organisational information systems. It is indicated that articles should bridge the gap between theory and practise of management information systems. Experimental, survey-based, and theoretical research methods are all acceptable. Also, paradigmatic designs and applications, analyses of informational policy-making, and investigations of social and economic issues of organisational computing are stated as acceptable research areas. In addition, JMIS provide a list of topics that they believe to be of publishable interest to information systems community. Published this year(a special issue on group support systems (GSS) )GSS unanswered research questionsManaging socioemotional issues in GSS meeting environmentsElectronic classroomEffects of minority influence in GSSAnonymity in GSS researchOrganisational dynamics of information technology enabled changeAnimated electronic meetingSupporting inspections with an electronic meeting systemEffective involvement of multiple usersARBAS - a formal language to support argumentation in network-based organisations
Research methods employedCritical incident research 9%Semi-structured interviews 9%Longitudinal study 9%Case study 18%Experimental research 9%Evaluation of past research 9%Analytical 18%Action research 9%Theoretical 9%
2.2 Conference Review
The assessment of demand for IS research topics was extended to a review of three ISconferences held this year. Minitracks and submission guidelines displayed on conferenceweb sites were examined to ascertain which research topics were in demand. Theconferences reviewed were:
1. Sixth European Conference On Information Systems June 19982. INFORMS Conference on IS&T April 19983. Association for Information Systems 1998 Americas Conference
Results of the conference review found that a very broad range of topics were in demand. To come to some conclusion as to what was the most in demand, those topics that werementioned by more than one conference were noted. Six topic areas emerged:
2.3 Conclusion of Demand for Topics & Research Methods
The journal and conference reviews provide a strong indication of what is currently indemand. Conclusions have been reached that provide guidance as to which directionfuture information systems research should head and how it should be undertaken. 2.3.1 Research Methods In Demand
The table overleaf provides summary data of research methods from the journal surveyconducted. The results provide a clear indication that case study based research is themost frequently published. Papers based around theoretical discussions are publishedsecond most frequently. These results indicate that information systems journals demandresearch of both a theoretical and a practical nature. The summary data reveals a widerange of research methods is being acknowledged by information systems journals. 2.3.2 Research Topics in Demand
Like the conference review, the journal review revealed a wide range of research topics asbeing currently in demand. Four topic areas emerged as being the most demanded (that is,they were the most frequently published over the last eighteen months). The researchareas were:• Group Support Systems
These four areas were also four of the six 'in-demand' topic areas that came out of theconference review. This correlation provides strong evidence for a high level of demandexisting for these research topics.
Now that it is known what is in demand, a research area, research method, and targetjournal can be decided upon. 3.0 Research Area
The area of information systems targeted by the author for future research is that of GroupDecision Support Systems (GDSS). The journal and conference review provided clearindication of the high level of demand for further research into this field. Along with being
1 'Other' is comprised of those research methods that were only employed once in thearticles examined - namely: critical incident research; comparative research; and semi-structured interviewing
published most frequently by the journals reviewed and being mentioned by all threeconferences, a special issue was dedicated to GDSS this year by JMIS.
Within the literature, the term's group decision support systems (GDSS) and groupsupport systems (GSS) have been used interchangeably. GDSS is in fact a subset of GSS. GSS refers to information technology that supports group work but not necessarily groupdecision making. The research area chosen is that of information technology that supportsgroup decision-making.
To gain a better understanding of what the current research issues are in the GDSS field aliterature review was conducted. Eight papers were examined with one chosen as key. Four of the eight papers have been published within the last two years. Each paper will beidentified and the key research issues briefly discussed.
Author(s): Turrof, M and Hiltz SSource: MISQ '93Title: Distributed Group Support SystemsSummary: Analysis of five case studies of distributed group support systems within aconceptual framework. Results indicate that the design requirements and associatedresearch issues for group support systems differ in the distributed environment.
Author(s): Poole, MSource: Human Communication Research '95Title: Decision Development in Computer-Assisted Group Decision-MakingSummary: Examines how group decision support systems affect how group decisionsdevelop over time. Group decision paths were mapped and an empirical taxonomy wasgenerated. Results indicated that those decision paths that most resembled logicalnormative sequences had superior outcomes to those that did not.
Author(s): Aiken, MSource: Review of Business '95Title: Group Decision Support SystemsSummary: Group decision support systems are discussed and evaluated as an alternativeto traditional oral business meeting environments. Conclusion of the paper is that althoughnot all group meetings are suited to the use of GDSS those that are can decrease themeeting time and improve the quality of decions made through the use of GDSS.
Author(s): Alavi, MSource: Information Systems Management '91Title: Group Decision Support SystemsSummary: This article explains how group decision support systems leverage teamefforts. A time and place framework is applied to define group work into four types. Theconclusion of the article identifies the growing trend in GDSS software of increasinglybroad functionality such that all four types of group interaction can be supported by a
single piece of software. A warning is made that various organisational factors related toimplementation must be addressed to gain the effectiveness improvements GDSS promise.
Author(s): Scott, C and Easton, ASource: Small Group Research '96Title: Examining Equality of Influence in Group Decision Support System InteractionSummary: This article tests the assumption that most GDSS's tend to equalise influencein groups. Results indicate that perceived influence is more equal during GDSSinteraction than immediately prior to such interaction. High-influence members wereperceived as having substantially less influence, whereas low-influence members wereperceived as having only slightly more influence. It is suggested that groups withextensive past histories never fully overcome past influence differences. The articleconcludes that the equalisation of influence effect is, at best, limited.
A citation search was conducted on these first five papers. The search generated only onecitation and that was of Poole's article. LR Weignart published "How do they do that -the-ways-and-means of studying group-process" published in Research intoOrganisational Behaviour '97. Further analysis revealed this article was not relevant so amanual search of information systems journals of recent years was carried out and thefollowing three articles were found:
Author(s): Dennis, ASource: MISQ '96Title: Information Exchange and Use in Group Decision MakingSummary: This article discusses an experiment of decision outcome quality where GSSsupported groups are compared against verbally-interacting groups. The results of theexperiment revealed the verbally interacting groups exchanged only a small portion of theavailable information and made poor decisions as a result. Groups interacting using a GSSexchanged about 50% more information, sufficient information to make the optimaldecision. However, of these groups only one chose the optimal decision. The paperconcludes that whilst GSS can improve information exchange it is limited in improvinginformation processing.
Author(s): Niederman, F (et. al.)Source: MISQ ' 96Title: Issues and Concerns About Computer-Supported Meetings: The Facilitator'sPerspectiveSummary: This paper examines facilitators' perspectives (via in-depth interviews of 37practising facilitators) on critical factors that influence meeting success and potentialbenefits and concerns with the use of GSS. Critical factors were found to becommunication and group process skills. Respondents observed or anticipated moreefficient and effective task performance as benefits of GSS. Concerns were based ontechnological issues such as participant anxiety. 3.1 Key Paper
Author(s): Griffith, T (et. al.)Source: Information Systems Research '98Title: Facilitator Influence in Group Support Systems: Intended and Unintended EffectsSummary: This paper addresses the role of the facilitator in group support systems. Aparadox is identified - the influence required to facilitate a group, changes the group'soutcomes. The article reaches the conclusion that no technology can ever totally insulatean organisational process from human influence because human influence can still play arole through the design of the technology, from assumptions regarding the technology andits use. 3.1.2 Justification - Why is the paper key?
Griffith's paper is considered key for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is on the generaltopic of GSS so it is relevant to my future research. Secondly, the article examines thehuman-machine interaction element of GSS and the sociotechnical system to which itbelongs. This is of importance, as my proposed research topic will be examining similarelements. Thirdly, the paper has been published in ISR, which the author considers to be ahighly reputable journal, which publishes only the highest quality work. The fourth reasonwhy this paper is key, is it was published this year. The paper is the most current on thetopic of GDSS. 4.0 Mini Proposal for Research Project
The topic chosen for a future research project is:
A systemic look at the sociocultural effects of group decision support systems on users.
The research method chosen for this project is case study based research.
An in-depth examination will be conducted of two organisations where GDSS have beenused for a period of greater than one year. The organisations selected will have existingand frequently used GDSS environments. This requirement will likely require the researchto be conducted overseas so the United States has been targeted as the research location. Further evaluation of suitable companies has yet to be carried out. In depth interviews willbe conducted of those involved with the GDSS. The effect the use of a GDSS has had onthe social relationship of those involved will be concluded and the repercussions of longterm use of GDSS's assessed. Efficiency and decision quality gains will be assessedagainst negative social effects.
The journal targeted for submission of this research paper is the Journal of Systems andInformation Technology (JS&IT). 4.1 Justification for Research proposal
The research is going to be systemic in nature. This is in alignment with the JS&ITeditorial comment requiring papers to have a "systemic or holistic perspective". Theresearch is looking at social elements as well as the technical elements. Again, this alignswith JS&IT editorial comments that state "articles must examine social and politicalaspects as well as technical". The chosen research method is case study based. Casestudies are stated in JS&IT submission guidelines as being an acceptable research method. In addition, case study based research is the most frequently published research method asidentified in section 2.3.1. The proposed research fits under the description of "humancomputer interaction problems tackled in a systemic or integrated way" which is includedin a list of topics under the heading "Target topics relevant to JS&IT:" in the submissionguidelines of JS&IT.
The topic area of GDSS has not been published in JS&IT yet although the related topicarea of decision support systems has been. This indicates the research paper is unlikely tobe turned down due to over-publication of the topic and also indicates that the broad topicarea is of interest to the journal. The chosen research method has been used frequently inpast years' papers and in the current year's publications.
Although, the acceptance ratio and time from submission to publication is not known, it isbelieved that the author's chance of acceptance is increased by a number of factors. Thejournal has published work from the Waikato School of Management Studys' SystemsDepartment before. The value of the research that comes out of the Systems Departmenthas been recognised by the journal. JS&IT is a young journal. It published its first issuein March 1997. The journal is less established than others and might not be as targeted byIS researchers. JS&IT employ a blind refereeing process. This means my lack ofeducation and publication won't work against me. 5.0 Conclusion
Group decision support systems are a hot topic. Members of the information systemscommunity have expressed a strong demand for further research into this field. Thetechnical elements of GDSS have been discussed and evaluated in the literature over thepast decade. Growing interest is emerging in social and cultural effects of informationtechnology, and this is true for GDSS. The research proposed will explore these issuesand the results of the research will be of significant importance to the information systemscommunity.
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