Idea-Generation in Naturally Occurring Contexts

Complex Appropriation of a Simple Group Procedure

Authors

  • Michele H. Jackson,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Colorado at Boulder
      concerning this article should be addressed to Michele H. Jackson, Department of Communication, UCB 270, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309–0270; email: Jackson@colorado.edu.
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  • Marshall Scott Poole

    1. Texas A&M University
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concerning this article should be addressed to Michele H. Jackson, Department of Communication, UCB 270, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309–0270; email: Jackson@colorado.edu.

Abstract

This study examined naturally occurring idea-generation in organizational groups completing an extended problem-solving task. Meetings held by 11 groups engaged in a quality improvement process in a governmental agency were analyzed to identify 37 idea-generation episodes. All groups had available a group decision support system (GDSS), although some opted not to use it. Across all groups, idea productivity was low though fairly efficient, but GDSS-supported idea-generation produced significantly fewer ideas. In general, idea-generation as a process appears to be more complex than has been thought; observed deviations from idealized idea-generation norms were not necessarily dysfunctional. The findings encourage reassessment of the assumptions underlying existing normative models of idea-generation.

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