Issues and Concerns About Computer-Supported Meetings: The Facilitator's Perspective

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In an effort to boost meeting productivity and success, managers may employ trained group facilitators. They may also implement group support systems (GSS) for the same reason. The two approaches can be taken separately or together. In this study, in-depth interviews with 37 practicing facilitators provided their perspectives on critical factors that influence meeting success and potential benefits and concerns with the use of GSS. Respondents focused on a core of communication and group process skills as critical for facilitator success. Overall, the respondents observed or anticipated more efficient and effective task performance as benefits of GSS technology. Their concerns focused on technology-related issues: participant anxiety, systems inflexibility, and systems reliability. Views of facilitators with high and low levels of GSS experience are largely consistent High-experience GSS facilitators viewed technical issues as more central to meeting success, while low-experience GSS facilitators focused more heavily on attributes of the group. The paper concludes by offering suggestions for identifying and training GSS facilitators and comments on key issues of importance to GSS designers, based on the facilitator's perspective.