Media Effects on Group Collaboration: An Empirical Examination in an Ethical Decision-Making Context

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Even though it is widely acknowledged that collaboration underlies much of the decision-making efforts in contemporary organizations, and that organizational groups are increasingly making decisions that have ethical implications, few studies have examined group ethical decision-making processes and outcomes. In addition, while there is increasing evidence that groups often collaborate/communicate using different mediating technologies, few studies have examined the effect of the characteristics of the media in group ethical decision-making contexts. Finally, there is a clear paucity of studies that have investigated group decision making pertaining to information technology (IT)-related ethical dilemmas, an area of rising importance for information systems (IS) and decision science researchers. This article seeks to address the gaps described above through an experimental study where groups collaborating either in a face-to-face context or in a computer-mediated context (using NetMeeting or Wiki) were required to make a decision with respect to a scenario with an IT-related ethical dilemma. Results indicate that media characteristics (e.g., anonymity, immediacy of feedback, parallelism) do not have an effect on whether groups make ethical (or unethical) decisions. However, several media characteristics were found to play a significant role on downstream variables, such as the quality of a follow-up task (i.e., creation of a decision justification document), and overall process satisfaction of the group members. © 2010 The Authors Decision Sciences Journal © 2010 Decision Sciences Institute.

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