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Group Decision Support System

Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS), are a class of electronic meeting systems, or groupware. It is a collaboration of software, hardware, procedures and technology designed to support meetings and group work. GDSS are dissimilar from computer supported cooperative work technologies as GDSS are more focused on task support, whereas CSCW tools provide general communication support, (Kraemer and King, 1988). A GDSS is either based on a local area network of microcomputers in a meeting room distributed across several rooms or locations

Initially Group Decision Support Systems were referred to as a Group Support System (GSS) or an electronic meeting system because they shared similar foundations. However today’s GDSS is characterized by being adapted for a group of people who collaborate to support integrated systems thinking for complex decision making. GDSS is classified within a time-place paradigm. Whether synchronous or asynchronous the systems matrix comprises: Same time AND same place, same time BUT different place, different time AND different place, and different time BUT same place.

Advantages or process gains, from using a GDSS over non-automated group meetings Synergy – Because a GDSS allows anonymity, group members may be encouraged to participate because they do not feel as vulnerable to group censure for asking what may be perceived as “foolish” questions or making unpopular comments. Similarly, the participants will not be as subject to group think or conformance pressure. In non-automated meetings, concentration by listeners is required, and pausing to reflect can cost a turn at comment or response; a GDSS allows everyone to “speak” in parallel.

In a typical meeting, group members have only few minutes to express their ideas rather than the entire meeting time, (Nunamaker, et al, 1989). Automated record keeping – A GDSS can record all comments generated during the meeting, and consequently, the group participants may not need to take notes. In a non-automated setting, group members have to remember comments generating new ideas until they have a chance to speak. Many groups have been able to accomplish more in significantly less time necessary for traditional, non-automated meetings.

Finally, the new technology has enabled larger groups to meet, resulting in more information, knowledge, and skills that are brought to bear to the task at hand. It allows for more objective evaluation of ideas and more precise communication Disadvantages, costs, or process losses, from using a GDSS Slow Communication – Most people speak much faster than they type, and thus would usually prefer a verbal environment. However, a GDSS allows participants to review recorded comments.

Secondly, Anonymity and parallel communication, may override the slow typing speed. Less attention blocking, less attenuation blocking, less socializing, less individual domination, less conformance pressure and less airtime fragmentation. Other disadvantages include technical failure, keyboarding skills, perception of messages, training, and cost of setting up the systems. Oracle on the other hand has sophisticated storage abilities and allows for refer and access of the stored data.

However, the major disadvantage is the technical requirements that the user ought to be equipped with before using it. References Kraemer, K. & King, J. (1988). Computer-based systems for cooperative work and group decision making. ACM Computing Surveys, 20(2). [Online] Retrieved March 31, 2009, from http://www. helsinki. fi/science/optek/1993/n3/aiken. txt Nunamaker, J. , Vogel, D. , Heminger, A. , Martz, B. , Grohowski, R. , & McGoff, C. (1989). Experiences at IBM with group support systems: A field study. Decision Support Systems, 5(2), 183-196.

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