, Volume 3, Issue 3-4, pp 327-357

Comparative study on the effects of groupware and conventional technologies on the efficiency of collaborative writing

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In this paper the concept of efficiency in collaborative writing is considered in detail and a definition of efficiency is proposed. The definition of efficiency leads to the development of a research framework that delineates five operational measures of efficiency: (a) writing activities efficiency, (b) coordination efficiency, (c) quality of output, (d) absence of breakdowns, and (e) satisfaction with group performance. A comparative study is subsequently presented on the effects that groupware and conventional technologies have on the effciency of collaborative writing. The hypothesis is advanced that groupware can improve the efficiency of collaborative writing over conventional technologies. The results seem to support the hypothesis and indicate that (a) the groupware system examined in this study (MUCH system) offers efficiency benefits in terms of coordination, (b) MUCH users tend to face communication breakdowns while users of conventional technologies tend to face task-related breakdowns, (c) the documents produced with MUCH are of higher content quality, more coherent, and of higher rhetorical effectiveness than the documents produced with conventional technologies, and (d) the comparison of MUCH with conventional technologies shows no significant difference in terms of their effects on group performance satisfaction.