Title

Facilitator influence in group support systems: Intended and unintended effects

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1998

Publisher

INFORMS

Abstract

This paper addresses facilitation, a developing area of Group Support Systems (GSS) research. The facilitator role is one of improving a group's communication and information flow; facilitators are meant to enhance the manner in which a group makes decisions without making those decisions for the group. However, there is a paradox in facilitation: The influence required to facilitate a group changes the group's outcomes. Additionally, strict impartiality for facilitation may be too much to expect because facilitators may unintentionally bias group outcomes, or because facilitators may have their own agendas. Acknowledgment, training, and standards for facilitators may prove useful ways for groups to retain the benefits of facilitation without incurring the costs of inappropriate facilitator influence. Implications are drawn for new research acknowledging the complexity of the GSS sociotechnical system, and the importance of sociotechnical facilitation in organizations.

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