Group Relations Psychology and Computer Supported Work: Some New Directions for Research and Development
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Computer support for work groups and cooperative work tasks is an area of active research and development. Software products are advertised for facilitating cooperation and collaboration, from collective authoring systems to computer support for multimedia communications and face-to-face meetings. Increasing work group productivity through the use of computer technology requires that the nature of group work practice be well understood. This paper describes a psychodynamic model of group relations and the perspective it provides on the behaviors and motivations of work groups and their larger containing organizations. The paper argues that the systemic and psychological model and insights of the psychodynamic perspective are fundamental to an understanding of the actual day-to-day activities of work groups. Furthermore, utilizing these insights can help develop richer models of work group experience, and provide a more realistic ground for developing effective computer assistance for work groups and their tasks. Since computer systems affect the social conditions of work groups, models and methods of the social sciences must be incorporated into the development practices of computer system engineers. The value of the psychodynamic perspective is described with two examples. First, some current research on computer mediated communication is reviewed in terms of group relations. Second, the application of this model to the changing nature of organizational work is outlined.
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