Group Support Systems: Experiments with an Online System and Implications for Same-Time/Different-Places Working

  • Mike YearworthEmail author
  • Leroy White
Living reference work entry


We present an analysis of the Group Explorer Group Support System (GSS) from the perspective of its implementation as technology that can support same-time/different-places group workshops. The purpose of the chapter is to report on our experiences with using a same-time/different-places GSS, introduce issues that arise from these experiences, and discuss future prospects. The chapter commences by reviewing our current understanding of GSS and how they support the use of distributed Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) in both single-organization and multi-organization settings. The configuration and use of a cloud-based online version of the GSS is presented that highlights some of the key technological, organizational, and facilitation issues involved in supporting distributed PSM workshops. The future development of such online GSS is discussed with a particular focus on two emerging research questions: the future role of the facilitator in online GSS and the commonalities between online GSS and social media platforms as different-times/different-places group working, such as crowdsourcing, becomes prevalent in the context of increasing globalization and the ongoing decentralization of work environments.



We would like to thank the many colleagues and collaborators in the STEEP and REPLICATE projects who contributed feedback on the development of the MS-Azure cloud-based implementation of the Group Explorer GSS and its use in the online mode. This work was supported in part by (i) the EPSRC-funded Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems (Grant EP/G037353/1); (ii) the Innovate UK/NERC project Healthy Resilient Cities: Building a Business Case for Adaptation (Grant NE/N007360/1); (iii) the EU FP7-ENERGY-SMARTCITIES-2012 (314277) project STEEP (Systems Thinking for Comprehensive City Efficient Energy Planning); and (iv) the EU H2020-SCC-2015 (691735) project REPLICATE (REnaissance of Places with Innovative Citizenship and TEchnology).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  2. 2.Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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