SAGE Journal Articles

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Auer-Rizzi, W., & Berry, M. (2000). Business vs. cultural frames of reference in group decision making: Interactions among Austrian, Finnish, and Swedish business students. Journal of Business Communication, 37, 264-288. doi:10.1177/002194360003700304

This study evolved out of an ethnographic approach to teaching, learning, and researching the different ways that business and cultural frames of reference can affect decision making in groups consisting of Austrian, Finnish, and Swedish business students. The data is based on videotaped and audiotaped recordings, post-exercise debriefings and discussions, and post-exercise written reflections on two decision-making exercises. The business-related Carter Racing exercise, which imitates the developments leading to the space shuttle Challenger catastrophe, produced conclusion-driven groupthink in every multicultural group of students. The students’ shared “business-is-taking-risks” frame of reference was salient, with few cultural differences within the groups. In contrast, an exercise requiring the same students to decide the appropriate degree of subordinate participation in decision- making when a nuclear power plant needed repair produced only one example of conclusion-driven discourse. Analyses of three groups illustrates (a) an example of groupthink (Austrians and Swedes) in both exercises, (b) an example of national culture interference (Austrians and Swedes) that paralyzed group decision-making and (c) an example of national culture interference (Austrians and Finns) that demonstrated the importance of a “cultural negotiator” in finding common ground for different national assumptions about social relationships and preferences for communication styles.

Rains, S. A. (2007). The impact of anonymity on perceptions of source credibility and influence in computer-mediated group communication: A test of two competing hypotheses. Communication Research, 34, 100-125. doi:10.1177/0093650206296084

As scholars and practitioners have endeavored to develop computer-based tools that foster effective communication and collaboration in groups, anonymity has played a key role. Anonymity purportedly minimizes status differences, liberates team members from a fear of retribution, and makes members feel more comfortable contributing to discussions. Yet these benefits may be outweighed by the impact of anonymity on receiver perceptions and behavior. Two competing hypotheses, drawn from adaptive structuration theory, were tested in this study to determine the impact of anonymity on receiver perceptions of sources and messages in computer-mediated group communication. The results of the multilevel models offer evidence in support of the discounting hypothesis and suggest that anonymity provided by electronic meeting systems may undermine source credibility and influence.