Does the Medium Matter? The Interaction of Task Type and Technology on Group Performance and Member Reactions

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The authors investigated the hypothesis that as group tasks pose greater requirements for member interdependence, communication media that transmit more social context cues will foster group performance and satisfaction. Seventy-two 3-person groups of undergraduate students worked in either computer-mediated or face-to-face meetings on 3 tasks with increasing levels of interdependence: an idea-generation task, an intellective task, and a judgment task. Results showed few differences between computer-mediated and face-to-face groups in the quality of the work completed but large differences in productivity favoring face-to-face groups. Analysis of productivity and of members' reactions supported the predicted interaction of tasks and media, with greater discrepancies between media conditions for tasks requiring higher levels of coordination. Results are discussed in terms of the implications of using computer-mediated communication systems for group work.

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