Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) have been designed to support groups of
people engaged in the cooperative working activities of a meeting. The interactions of
a group of people working together in a meeting are termed the "group process"
whereby certain factors or input variables influence the group process which in turn
characterize the group process outcomes. A review of the work in this field has
revealed the absence of a standard organizing framework in GDSS research that
adequately models this group process and identifies those variables recognized as
characterizing the group process. The introduction of such a framework would be a
significant advance in GDSS research, both improving the methods for describing and
assessing GDSS-supported meetings and helping to understand the effects of input
variables on the group process and its outputs. This thesis presents such a framework.
Evaluation of the group process and its outcomes is essential in studying the use of
GDSS and the effects of input variables upon the group process and its outcome.
Post-process questionnaires to be completed by group members have frequently been
used to evaluate GDSS. However, articles describing the use of questionnaires in
GDSS research provide little information regarding development of the
questionnaires and the assessment of validity and reliability of questionnaires is rarely
addressed. This calls into question the validity and reliability of results and
conclusions drawn from questionnaire responses. In this research, a questionnaire
which aims to evaluate group members' perceptions of the meeting process and its
outcomes was developed directly from the variables in the framework. The
questionnaire was completed by a total of 57 group members attending five meetings
using three different types of GDSS to help them with their real problems. Their
responses were used to test the questionnaire for validity and reliability. The results of
these tests were used to revise the questionnaire. As a result, a valid questionnaire has
been devised which can be used with confidence in future research to provide valid
conclusions. Use of such a standard valid questionnaire will produce comparable
results from all GDSS research, promoting cross comparison of study results, more
efficient interpretation of results and more fruitful conclusions. This will enhance the
researchers' understanding of GDSS use.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.