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Communication Quality in Information Systems Development: The Effect of Computer-Mediated Communication on Task-Oriented Problem Solving

Description: The problem motivating this research is that ineffective communication may hamper systems development efforts. Specifically germane to this study are development efforts characterized as task-oriented, and which require information-sharing and problem-solving activities. This research problem motivated an analysis of the communication process and lead to the development of a temporal framework that delineates variables associated with task-oriented, end user/systems analyst communication interactions. Several variables within this framework are depicted in two theoretical models. The first model shows the theoretical relationship between an independent variable, communication mode (represented by asynchronous computer conferencing and face-to-face conferencing), and five dependent variables: (1) the amount of information shared, (2) the significance of the information shared, (3) the comprehensiveness of the information shared, (4) the perception of progress toward the goal, and (5) the perception of freedom to participate. The second model depicts the assumed interaction between communication mode, the five variables cited above (now acting as independent variables), and a dependent variable, communication quality. There are two theoretical components of communication quality: (1) deviation from an optimal set of user requirements, and (2) the degree of convergence (unity based on mutual understanding and mutual agreement) emanating from a communication interaction. Using the theoretical models as a guide, an experiment was designed and performed to test the relationships among the variables. The experimental results led to the rejection of all null hypotheses; the results strongly favored face-to-face conferencing for solving task-oriented, information-sharing problems analagous to the case used in the present study. The findings indicate that asynchronous computer conferencing may have a detrimental effect on the thoroughness of information exchange, on the relevance of the information shared in terms of making the correct decision, and on the completeness of the consideration given to all problem dimensions.
Date: May 1986
Creator: Smith, Jill Yvonne
Partner: UNT Libraries