Decision interaction processes and decision product quality: a comparative study of a group support system: CyberQuest™ and the nominal group technique

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Virginia Tech


This study's objective was to compare a Group Support System (GSS), i.e., CyberQuest, with the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). Its basic assumption was that discussion outcomes are enhanced by decision interaction processes, the quality of group facilitation, the intensity of group interaction, the effectiveness of the group meeting, and the level of group satisfaction.

The GSS of choice in the study was CyberQuest, which was developed at Virginia Tech by Professor John Dickey. Like most GSS, its purpose is to increase the effectiveness of individual and multiple decision makers. Unlike most GSS which for the most part feature various computerized problem solving tools, CyberQuest adds hypermedia hardware/software systems to stimulative and innovative group facilitation procedures and methodologies.

The unit of analysis was a group meeting. Eight groups of randomly selected Town officials and citizens were asked to develop policy recommendations that address the need to encourage the retention and growth of a mix of retail services in Blacksburg, Virginia. Four groups were exposed to CyberQuest. Four were not; instead they were exposed to a modified version of the NGT. Prior to the administration of the experiment, an expert panel was polled to determine the criteria by which the policy was to be judged.

The results of the experiment were not entirely favorable to CyberQuest sessions. There was no statistically significant difference between CyberQuest and NGT in decision product quality, quality of facilitation, or meeting effectiveness. Only group interaction and group satisfaction gave evidence of any statistically significant difference. There was sufficient evidence to conclude that the former was of greater intensity in CyberQuest driven sessions. On the other hand, there was evidence to conclude that the latter was greater in NGT driven sessions.