Groups are not always the same
The idea of supporting group meetings at the same time and at the same place by computer raises the problem of how salient features of group behaviors are understood in meetings. In this paper we take a critical look at several beliefs about group behaviors in research dealing with electronic meeting systems (EMS). The paper argues based on an empirical study that the concept of a small, cohesive business team, so widely held, in all EMS research is not necessarily a valid starting point in thinking of meeting support. In particular, the paper critically evaluates a number of beliefs of user aspects, group features such as composition, structure and protocols, and task characteristics such as nature, importance and meeting goals. In consequence, if these prominent features can vary markedly all meeting support cannot be designed in ways envisaged in current research. In conclusion we outline some research questions—both of empirical and constructive nature—that need to be addressed if the EMS research wants to address issues in computer support in groups that are not similar with business teams.