Social richness, socio-technical tension and the virtual commissioning of NHS research

Morgan, Philip A., McCourt, Christine and Youll, Penny (2007) Social richness, socio-technical tension and the virtual commissioning of NHS research. Health Research Policy and Systems, 5. p. 8. ISSN 1478-4505

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Background: This paper draws on a recent study that evaluated the process of commissioning NHS funded research using virtual committees. Building on an earlier paper that reported our evaluation, here we focus on the effects of asynchronous computer mediated communication (CMC) when used to support group work.
Methods: To do this the discussion focuses on how CMC affected three key group factors, building relationships, group cohesion and group commitment. The notion of socio-technical tension is elaborated and the paper explores how social richness can act to counter the socially impoverishing and time extending effects of asynchronous CMC.
Results: We argue that social richness in this context results from the presence of five principal influences. These are: a dynamic range of participant aspirations and personal agendas; participant commitment to and identification with the work and ideals of the group; a rich diversity of social, professional and work-related backgrounds; a website designed to enhance participation and interaction and the mediating effects of an effective chairperson.
Conclusion: If virtual work groups are to be used by the NHS in the future, then there is a need for more research into the role of social context and its relationship to the effectiveness of newly formed virtual groups. Equally as important are studies that examine the effects of socio-technical interaction on groups undertaking tasks in the real world of work.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1186/1478-4505-5-8
Additional Information: © Morgan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007 This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: Medicine and health
Depositing User: David Phillips
Date Deposited: 05 May 2017 10:04
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:52


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