Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jean P. Gasen


The increase of end-user computing, including the use of computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS), is one of the most significant changes to occur in business information systems in recent years. Researchers suggest that changes in technology lead to changes in the way individuals think about work and how they perform it. An important question is how the use of CMCS is changing work and work relationships. This study considers a portion of this question; it asks "What makes individuals willing to participate in a computer-supported workgroup (CSWG)."

This study considered the relationship between three variables (sex, anonymity, and token status) and participation rates in the CSWG. It asked four research questions: (1) is there a significant difference in total participation among males/females, token/nontoken individuals, and gender-revealed/non-gender-revealed individuals? (2) In task-oriented participation among these same groups? (3) In socio-emotional participation among these same groups? (4) In the conversational mix among these same groups?

Students from five undergraduate business classes participated in an on-line conference using FocusPoint conferencing software. Participants were divided randomly into 36 groups of four members each; each workgroup contained volunteers from several classes. The experimental design was a 2 x 2 factorial; factor one was gender-revealed/non-gender-revealed status and factor two was whether token status within each CSWG was token male or token female. Every group received the same planning task—a 10-year class reunion exercise. All communications were captured and categorized using Siegel's taxonomy for identifying conversational patterns (Siegel, 1986). The results were analyzed using analysis of variance on the main effects and their interactions.

Findings supported the hypotheses that there is a significant difference in both total and task-oriented participation between men and women, with women showing a greater number of remarks in both categories. Results also indicated that there is a significant difference in socio-emotional participation and in conversational mix between based on token status and gender-revealed status with gender revealed non-tokens and non-gender-revealed tokens showing a greater number of socio-emotional remarks. Differences in total and task orientation participation were most dependent on the demographic variable "sex" while differences in socio-emotional responses and mix were most dependent on the situation, i.e. token status and gender-revealed status.

Addition stepwise regression analyses, which looked at the role of the ancillary variables (education, experience, computer ownership, locus of control, psychological gender, and attitudes toward computers) were able to improve the model. Further research is needed into the effects of these variables. Research at a more detailed level of participation is also needed.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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