Facilitator Influence in Group Support Systems: Intended and Unintended Effects

Terri L. Griffith, Mark A. Fuller, Gregory B. Northcraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses facilitation, a developing area of Group Support Systems (GSS) research. The facilitator role is one of improving a group's communication and information flow; facilitators are meant to enhance the manner in which a group makes decisions without making those decisions for the group. However, there is a paradox in facilitation: The influence required to facilitate a group changes the group's outcomes. Additionally, strict impartiality for facilitation may be too much to expect because facilitators may unintentionally bias group outcomes, or because facilitators may have their own agendas. Acknowledgment, training, and standards for facilitators may prove useful ways for groups to retain the benefits of facilitation without incurring the costs of inappropriate facilitator influence. Implications are drawn for new research acknowledging the complexity of the GSS sociotechnical system, and the importance of sociotechnical facilitation in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-36
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1998


  • Electronic meeting systems
  • Facilitation
  • Group support systems
  • Groups
  • Power in organizations
  • Sociotechnical systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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