Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 363–379 | Cite as

A Repeatable E-Collaboration Process Based on ThinkLets for Multi-Organization Strategy Development

  • Johanna Bragge
  • Hilkka Merisalo-Rantanen
  • Antti Nurmi
  • Leena Tanner


In recent years, multi-organizational collaboration has become more and more important in both business and research. We conducted an action research (AR) intervention with a consortium of Finnish universities that needed to revise its joint strategy. We designed and facilitated a repeatable collaboration process for this multi-organizational strategy development. The process was built using the Collaboration Engineering (CE) approach with thinkLets, which provides expert-level advice for novice facilitators, and it was powered by Group Support Systems (GSS). Our overall impression of CE’s ability to provide valuable design and facilitation support for complex processes is very affirmative. The consortium was satisfied with the intervention, as it saved huge amounts of time compared with conventional strategic work. The process was also seen as more democratic, because the GSS tools enabled equal participation during the session. Our study also provides a ready-to-apply CE process recipe to organizations for revising their strategy. Through this recipe, supplemented with knowledge on thinkLets, the strategy development process may easily be repeated by other facilitators or even practitioners.


Collaboration Engineering (CE) thinkLets Group Support Systems (GSS) action research (AR) strategy process e-collaboration multi-organizational teams information systems development 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors thank the two anonymous referees for their comments on improving this paper. This research was supported in part by the Marcus Wallenberg’s Foundation for Business Research, the HSE Foundation, and the Finnish Foundation for Economic and Technology Sciences.


  1. Ackermann F. et al. (2005). GSS for Multi-Organizational Collaboration: Reflections on Process and Content. Group Decision and Negotiation 14(4):307–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adkins M., Burgoon M., Nunamaker J. F. (2003). Using Group Support Systems for Strategic Planning with the United States Air Force. Decision Support Systems 34(3):315–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austin, T., N. Drakos, and J. Mann. (2006). Web Conferencing Amplifies Dysfunctional Meeting Practices, Gartner Research, Nr. G00138101, Gartner, Inc., March 13, 2006Google Scholar
  4. Bajwa, D. S., L. F. Lewis, and G. Pervan. (2003). Adoption of Collaboration Information Technologies in Australian and US Organizations: A Comparative Study, Proceedings of the 36th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, IEEE, 1–10Google Scholar
  5. Baskerville R., Myers M. D. (2004). Special Issue on Action Research in Information Systems: Making IS Research Relevant to Practice. MIS Quarterly 28(3):329–335Google Scholar
  6. Bragge, J., M. den Hengst, T. Tuunanen, and V. Virtanen. (2005a). “A Repeatable Collaboration Process for Developing a Road Map for Mobile Marketing,” Proceedings of the the 11th Americas Conference on Information Systems AMCIS, August 11–14, Omaha, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. Bragge, J. and H. Merisalo-Rantanen. (2005). “Insights on Developing a Collaboration Process for Gathering Innovative End-User Feedback on Information Systems,” Proceedings of the Group Decision and Negotiation Conference, July 10–13, Vienna, Austria, pp 1–25Google Scholar
  8. Bragge J., Merisalo-Rantanen H., Hallikainen P. (2005b). Gathering Innovative End-User Feedback for Continuous Development of Information Systems: A Repeatable and Transferable E-Collaboration Process. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 48(1):55–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bragge, J., H. Merisalo-Rantanen, A. Nurmi, and L. Tanner. (2005c). “GSS-Enabled Strategy Development in a Multi-Organization Environment,” Proceedings of the Group Decision and Negotiation Conference, July 10–13, Vienna, Austria, pp. 1–27Google Scholar
  10. Briggs R. O., de Vreede G. J. (2001). ThinkLets: Building Blocks for Concerted Collaboration (Version 1.0 ed). Tucson, GroupSystems.comGoogle Scholar
  11. Briggs R. O., de Vreede G. J., Nunamaker J. F. (2003). Collaboration Engineering with ThinkLets to Pursue Sustained Success with Group Support Systems. Journal of Management Information Systems 19(4):31–64Google Scholar
  12. Chandler A. D. (1962). Strategy and Structure. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  13. de Vreede, G. J. and R. O. Briggs. (2005). “Collaboration Engineering: Designing Repeatable Processes for High-Value Collaborative Tasks,” Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, January 3–6, Hawaii, USA, IEEEGoogle Scholar
  14. de Vreede G. J., de Bruijn H. (1999). Exploring the Boundaries of Successful GSS Application: Supporting Inter-Organizational Policy Networks. DataBase 30(3–4):111–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dennis A. R. et al. (1997). Group Support Systems for Strategic Planning. Journal of Management Information Systems 14(1):155–184Google Scholar
  16. Eden C., Ackermann F. (2001). Group Decision and Negotiation in Strategy Making. Group Decision and Negotiation 10(2):119–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fisher R., Brown S. (1988). Getting Together: Building a Relationship that Gets to Yes. Boston, Mass, Houghton-MifflinGoogle Scholar
  18. Freedman M. (2003). The Genius is in the Implementation. Journal of Business Strategy 24(2):23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gartner, Inc. (2005). Gartner Says WWW Conferencing and Team Collaboration Software Market Will Exceed $1.1 Billion by 2008, Press release, March 23, 2005Google Scholar
  20. Greene J. (2005). Combat over Collaboration. BusinessWeek 18(4):65–66Google Scholar
  21. Hansen, M.T. and N. Nohria. (2004). “How to Build Collaborative Advantage,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall, 22–30Google Scholar
  22. Kasanen E., Lukka K., Siitonen A. (1993). The Constructive Approach in Management Accounting Research. Journal of Management Accounting Research 5(Fall):243–264Google Scholar
  23. Kolfschoten, G. L., R. O. Briggs, G. J. de Vreede, P. H. M. Jacobs, and J. Appelman. (2006). “A Conceptual Foundation of the ThinkLet Concept for Collaboration Engineering,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64(7), 611–621Google Scholar
  24. Lau F. (1999). Toward a Framework for Action Research in Information Systems Studies. Information Technology & People 12(2):148–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mantere, S., V. Hämäläinen, P. Aaltonen, H. Ikävalko, and V. Teikari. (2003). Implementing the Organizational Strategy: From Plans to Practice (Finnish Ed.), Helsinki: Edita Publishing OyGoogle Scholar
  26. Mingers J. (2001). Combining IS Research Methods: Towards a Pluralist Methodology. Information Systems Research 12(3):240–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mintzberg H. (1978). Patterns in Strategy Formation. Management Science 24(9):934–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Munkvold B. E., Zigurs I. (2005). Integration of E-Collaboration Technologies: Research Opportunities and Challenges. International Journal of e-Collaboration 1(2):1–24Google Scholar
  29. Nunamaker J. F. et al. (1991). Electronic Meeting Systems to Support Group Work. Communications of the ACM 34(7):40–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nurmi, A., P. Hallikainen, and M. Rossi. (2005). “Coordination of Outsourced IS Development in Multiple Customer Environment-A Case Study of a Joint ISD Project,” Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA, 1–10Google Scholar
  31. Orwig R. et al. (1997). A multi-agent view of strategic planning using group support systems and artificial intelligence. Group Decision and Negotiation 6(1):37–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pollard C. (2003). Exploring Continued and Discontinued Use of IT: A Case Study of OptionFinder, a Group Support System. Group Decision and Negotiation 12:171–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Quinn J. B. (1999). Strategies for Change. In: Mintzberg H., Quinn J. B. (eds), The Strategy Process. Concepts, Contexts, Cases. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-HallGoogle Scholar
  34. Raiffa H., Richardsson J., Metcalfe D. (2002). Negotiation Analysis. The Science and Art of Collaborative Decision Making. Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Belknap Press of Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  35. Susman G. I., Evered R. D. (1978). An Assessment of the Scientific Merits of Action Research. Administrative Science Quarterly 23(4):582–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thompson A. A. Jr., Gamble J. E., Strickland A. J. III. (2004). Strategy: Winning in the Marketplace: Core Concepts, Analytical Tools, Cases. New York, McGraw-HillGoogle Scholar
  37. Tyran C. K. et al. (1992). The Application of Electronic Meeting Technology to Support Strategic Management. MIS Quarterly 16(3):313–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Bragge
    • 1
  • Hilkka Merisalo-Rantanen
    • 1
  • Antti Nurmi
    • 1
  • Leena Tanner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Business TechnologyHelsinki School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations