Developing complex group products: Idea combination in computer-mediated and face-to-face groups
This study examines how group experience, communication medium, and strategies for combining individual ideas influence the integrative complexity of group products. Each week for six weeks, members of 31 work groups wrote individual essays about their group tasks and experiences, and then collaborated on a group essay on the same topic. Results indicate that in the later weeks of the study, computer-mediated groups produce essays with higher integrative complexity than those of face-to-face groups. The integrative complexity of essays in later weeks is a joint function of the complexity of member ideas and the number of members who participate directly in writing the essay (scribes). The greater complexity of computer-mediated groups' essays in the later weeks of the study is partly accounted for by their use of more scribes and their inclusion of more unique member ideas.