An Empirical Test of the Focus Theory of Collaboration
Chen, F., Briggs, R. O.
Type of Research
Chapter(s) in Books
2014, Before July
Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Collaboration Systems: Concept, Value, and Use
Armonk, New York; London, England
The chapter reports a study that adopted an action research approach to investigate the efficacy of Focus Theory, a general theory of group productivity, in the context of project team interactions supported by group collaboration technology. Focus Theory specifies that three processes consume attention resources to accomplish a group task: Communication, information access, and deliberation. The study indicated that Focus Theory had both explanatory power and theoretical limitations. The study indicated that three processes consumed attention resources, although it was difficult to separate their effects or to measure the attention resources allocated to each. Focus theory does not differentiate between cognitive effort and cognitive load, making it difficult to test the theory's validity. The three processes may not be equally important in all group interaction scenarios, a possibility not specified by Focus Theory. The implications of the study for further development of the theory are: The theory needs to differentiate between cognitive effort and cognitive load, specify which process is more important in what conditions, and find a method to measure attention resources consumed by each of the processes separately.