For people who need to participate as a part of member in numerous group meetings every day, here is a new technology for meeting environment, the Electronic Meeting System (EMS). The definition of meeting includes people gathering together whether at the same place at the same time, or in different place at different time. The primary goal of this new technology system is making the group discussion more productive and efficient through directly impacting and changing the behaviors in the groups no matter where the meeting is holding on.
The article presents the process of research conducted by University of Arizona to test the effect of EMS technology during different scenarios. The research includes two types of research defined by Ackoff, developmental and empirical. They installed the new EMS at more than 22 universities and 12 corporations. There are at least four mechanisms including process support, process structure, task structure, and task support. The EMS can influence the balance of gains and losses through these mechanisms.
The result of the Arizona research showed the use of EMS technology has significant positive impact of group processes and outcomes. The author believes that these effects are because of some features of EMS. Parallel communication declines the opportunity that few people control the whole meeting. Group memory can be saved as permanent record and reflect people’s opinions during the meeting. Process structure helps the group focus on key issues. Besides, task support can offer information and analyze it.
In terms of the overall analysis in the article, they conclude that the effects of EMS are contingent upon the situation, it is important to go deep into understanding why EMS causes different impacts in different situation and what EMS components are useful in what kind of situation. Although they only utilized the EMS in minority objects for research, it is expectable to improve the outcome of every kind of meetings in different time and place through this new technology in the future.