Computer-mediated group communication tools are a central focus of the research by Joe Valacich (standing), Assistant Professor of Decision and Information Sciences, Indiana University Bloomington. In such systems, group communication can be structured in ways to help focus the discussions of groups on specific topics or activities. Group communication can be structured so that comments are entered anonymously or identified (a feature that can be useful for groups addressing, for example, a controversial human resource policy issue). Unlike a traditional group meeting where only one person can speak at a time, these systems provide all members an equal opportunity to make a contribution. Valacich and his colleagues have found that teams working in these electronic sessions have much more balanced participation, can effectively include more members on the team, and outperform traditional face-to-face teams on a broad number of tasks. Findings from this program of research have influenced the design of numerous commercial "groupware" systems.

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