Building Better Design Teams: Enhancing Group Affinity to Aid Collaborative Design

  • Michael A. Oren
  • Stephen B. Gilbert


This paper discusses ConvoCons, a novel system of conversational icons intended to encourage affinity between collaborators unobtrusively. Using a reification of Bonnie Nardi’s framework for social connection and affinity, ConvoCons overlay an existing application and display a varying media that can encourage collaborating partners to begin developing affinity through informal conversations. This research explores whether dyads working on a collaborative multitouch application with ConvoCons develop more affinity than dyads that do not while solving simple design problems and a freeform design task. Results indicate that after an average of 23.25 minutes, affinity, defined as a function of conversational and behavioral cues, was 40% higher (p < 0.001) in the ConvoCons group than in the control group. This research offers a framework for evaluating affinity within groups and a foundation for exploring software-based methods of improving the effectiveness of collaboration within design teams.


Social Capital Completion Time Design Team Team Climate News Headline 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Oren
    • 1
  • Stephen B. Gilbert
    • 1
  1. 1.Iowa State UniversityUSA

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