Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Robinson, Rhonda S.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Group problem solving; Group problem solving--Methodology


During the last two decades of the 20th century, a confluence of three seemingly disparate but inevitably linked trends emerged that have had an impact on workplace performance. In particular, the changes in work structures and world economies, the innovative and ubiquitous use of technologies in every facet of work, and the considerable applicable research on human cognition have made noteworthy contributions to team work. However, these trends have made seemingly little impact toward a holistic model for team problem solving. To work toward guidelines for a holistic model, this study used a case method to determine criteria used by a successful problem-solving team within a global training corporation. Findings suggest that successful problem solving occurs in that space of congruence in which the business context is a critical consideration as well as the three functions of communications, navigation, and technologies. The three categories of communications, navigation, and technologies, in addition to context, provide a more systematic approach to problem solving. Communications, as a broad function, suggests to group problem solvers that they need to consider all aspects of how information is shared, stored, and retrieved. Navigation, a term taken from common parlance to explain the way users function on the Internet, refers to knowledge of processes the team uses to plan and execute their course through a problem-solving session. This knowledge includes the skills with which to execute the navigation. Technologies, as a broad category, refers to tools and tactics team members use to navigate through the process of problem solving. These technologies, ranging from hard to soft, can include hardwired devices such as groupware or video conferencing, as well as softer tools such as brainstorming on flip chart paper. Suggestions for future research include using a case method across several successful teams to reveal consistencies and variances. Other lines of research include determining factors that inhibit the use of a group facilitator and developing methods for detecting problem-solving patterns in chaotic environments. More specifically, the literature suggests a move away from distinct problem-solving models because they may support static approaches to decontextualized problem solving. Thus, a case study research agenda to implement the problem-solving guidelines put forth from this study in a receptive team environment is suggested.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [112]-123)


xiv, 135 pages




Northern Illinois University

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