Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 31–50 | Cite as

The facilitator and the chauffeur in GSS: Explorations in the forging of a relationship

  • Alma M. Whiteley
  • Joseph E. Garcia


This study investigates two roles in Group Support Systems (GSS) meetings, those of the facilitator and the technical support person or “chauffeur.” GSS technology originated as a support for cooperative work in groups. The work of facilitators, who have traditionally supported group work both in terms of structure and process is changing. GSS involve a “mechanistic” approach, and, typically, in such GSS systems as MeetingWorks, a technical operator or chauffeur within the software environment will take over some of the facilitator functions. The facilitator can accommodate this in various ways. One approach is to develop a role relationship with the chauffeur, if possible, given the two seemingly distinct areas of expertise. This study attempts to address what form this relationship might take and how it might develop. We use an interpretivist framework and grounded theory methodology, together with focused interviews to investigate these questions from two selected case studies of a facilitator and chauffeur team who conducted GSS meetings with nine client groups. The study outcomes were the development of a descriptive model (EDASA) of the relationship development process between the team members and a description of alternative role relationships for facilitator and chauffeur.

Key words

group support systems facilitation role relationships facilitator chauffeur 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ArgyrisC., and D.A.Schön. (1974).Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Atkinson, D. (1993). “A Study of Perceptions of Individual Participants of a Client Group Undertaking a Series of Meetings Supported by a Group Support System (GSS).” Doctoral Candidacy Proposal, Curtin University, Perth, WA.Google Scholar
  3. BolmanL.G., and T.E.Deal. (1991).Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  4. ClawsonV.K., R.P.Bostrom, and R.Anson. (1993). “The Role of the Facilitator in Computer-Supported Meetings,”Small Group Research 24(4), 547–565.Google Scholar
  5. DelbecqA.L., and A.H.Van deVen. (1971). “A Group Process Model for Problem Identification and Program Planning,”Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 7, 466–492.Google Scholar
  6. DennisA.R., J.F.George, L.M.Jessup, J.F.Nunamaker, and D.R.Vogel. (1988). “Information Technology to Support Electronic Meetings,”MIS Quarterly 12(4), 591–624.Google Scholar
  7. FlanaganJ. (1954). “The Critical Incident Technique,”Psychological Bulletin 51, 327–358.Google Scholar
  8. FolgerJ.P., and M.S.Poole. (1984).Working Through Conflict. Glenview IL: Scott Foresman.Google Scholar
  9. Garcia, J.E., L.F. Lewis, and K.S. Keleman. (1989). “An Adaptive Design Model for Recurring GDSS Applications: An Extended Field Study.” Paper presented at the ORSA/TIMS Joint National Meeting, New York, NY, April.Google Scholar
  10. GlaserB., and A.S.Strauss. (1967).The Discovery of Grounded Theory Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  11. GoetzJ.P., and M.D.LeCompte. (1981). “Ethnographic Research and the Problem of Data Reduction,”Anthropology and Education Quarterly 12, 51–70.Google Scholar
  12. HeronJ. (1989).The Facilitator's Handbook. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  13. KelemanK.S., L.F.Lewis, and J.E.Garcia. (1993). “Script Management: A Link between Group Support Systems and Organizational Learning,Small Group Research 24(4), 566–582.Google Scholar
  14. KerlingerF.N. (1986).Foundations of Behavioral Research. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  15. LewisL.F., and K.S.Keleman. (1991).MeetingWorks User's Manual. Bellingham, WA: Meeting Works Associates.Google Scholar
  16. LewisL.F., and A.M.Whiteley. (1992). “Initial Perceptions of Facilitators Using GDSS: A Study Using the Grounded-Theory Approach.” In J.Nunamaker (ed.),Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press.Google Scholar
  17. PhillipsL.D. (1989). “People-Centered Group Decision Support.” In G.I.Doukidis, F.Land, and G.Miller (eds.),Knowledge-Based Management Support Systems. Chichester, UK: Ellis Horwood.Google Scholar
  18. PooleM.S., D.L.Shannon, and G.R.DeSanctis. (1992). “Communication Media and Negotiation Processes.” In L.L.Putnam and Roloff (eds.),Communication and Negotiation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. PooleM.S., and G.R.DeSanctis. (1990). “Understanding the Use of Group Decision Support Systems: The Theory of Adaptive Structuration.” In C.Steinfield and J.Fulk (eds.),Organizations and Communication Technology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. QuinnR.E., J.Rohrbaugh, and M.R.McGrath. (1985). “Automated Decision Conferencing: How It Works,”Personnel 62, 49–55.Google Scholar
  21. SeidelJ.V., R.Kjolseth, and E.Seymour. (1988).The Ethnograph: A User's Guide. Corvallis, OR: Qualis Associates.Google Scholar
  22. StraussA.L., and J.M.Corbin. (1990).Basics of Qualitative Research Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. TurnerD.N. (1990). “Intra-Organizational Bargaining: The Effect of Goal Congruence and Trust on Negotiator Strategy Use,”Communication Studies 41, 54–75.Google Scholar
  24. WagnerG.R., WynneB.E., and B.E.Mennecke. (1993). “Group Support Systems Facilities and Software.” In L.M.Jessup and J.S.Jessup (eds.),Group Support Systems New Perspectives, New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  25. Wagner, G.R. (1981). “Decision Support Systems Computerized Mind Support for Executive Problems,”Managerial Planning, (September/October) 9–16.Google Scholar
  26. Whiteley, A.M. (1992). “Expanding the Horizons of HRM Teaching: Organizational Culture and the Core Values Model.” In A. M. Whiteley (ed.),Proceedings of the Second International Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference. Perth, Western Australia.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alma M. Whiteley
    • 1
  • Joseph E. Garcia
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate School of BusinessCurtin University of TechnologyBentleyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Management, College of Business and EconomicsWestern Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA

Personalised recommendations