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Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) are a class of collaborative software, a collaboration technology designed to aid group decision making and group work .[1] GDSS are distinct from computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) technologies as GDSS are more focused on task support, whereas CSCW tools provide general communication support .[1]

Group Decision Support Systems are categorized within a time-place paradigm. Different features may be required for synchronous vs asynchronous communication, as well as local vs distant.

Research Edit

Significant research supports measuring impacts of:

Academic work on Group Decision Support Systems was largely led in the 1980s and 1990s by the University of Minnesota (the SAMM System) and the University of Arizona (PLEXSYS, later renamed GroupSystems). The Arizona research software was spun off as Ventana Corporation (now known as GroupSystems Inc.). The University of Arizona researchers report both benefits and costs for their electronic meeting system.[2]

The benefits, or process gains, from using a GDSS (over more traditional group techniques) are:

  • More precise communication;
  • Synergy: members are empowered to build on ideas of others;
  • More objective evaluation of ideas;
  • Stimulation of individuals to increase participation;
  • Learning: group members imitate and learn from successful behaviors of others.

The costs, or process losses, from using a GDSS (instead of more traditional group techniques) are:

  • More free riding;
  • More information overload;
  • More flaming;
  • Slower feedback;
  • Fewer information cues;
  • Incomplete use of information.

However, the researchers found that GDSS over traditional group techniques limited or reduced the following process losses:

  • Less attention blocking
  • Less conformance pressure
  • Less airtime fragmentation
  • Less attenuation blocking
  • Less socializing
  • Less individual domination

Systems Edit

Commercial software products that support GDSS practices over the Internet in both synchronous and asynchronous settings include,, smartSpeed Connect, ThinkTank and ynSyte's WIQ.

There is also an initiative to create open-source software that can support similar group processes in education, where this category of software has been called a Discussion Support System. See CoFFEE.

See also Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dennis, A.R., George, J.F., Jessup, L.M., Nunamaker Jr., J.F., and Vogel, D.R. "Information Technology to Support Electronic Meetings" MIS Quarterly (12:4), pp. 591-624, Dec 1988.
  2. Nunamaker, Jr., J. F.; Dennis, A. R.; Valacich, J. S.; Vogel, D. R.; George, J. F. (July 1991), "Electronic Meetings to Support Group Work", Communications of the ACM 34 (7): 40–61 

External links Edit

This is Chapter 10 of The Future Does Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst, by Stephen L. Talbott. (Sebastopol CA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1995). Hardcover, 502 pages. ISBN 1-56592-085-6

by Uday S. Murthy and L. Murphy Smith The authors describe the guidelines and strategies for putting electronic meeting systems to work and present details and comparisons on two of the available less expensive software packages.

by D. J. Power - Editor, DSSResources.COM

Report by Philip S Tellis, Staff Scientist, ETU Division, NCST, Juhu

March 2006 Conversation column by Gardiner Morse
"Connecting Maverick Minds" ... Geoffrey West, president of the Santa Fe Institute, a unique research community

that innovates by mixing disciplines, talks about why free thinking matters.

  • 2006 HICSS-39 Thinklets (Collaboration techniques and processes)
    • 2001 HICSS-34 Mini-Track Topics (Collaboration systems and technology)
  • 1996-GSS HICSS-29 Mini-Track Topics (Group Support Systems)

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