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Publication - Professor Mike Yearworth

    Demystifying facilitation

    a new approach to investigating the role of facilitation in group decision support processes


    Yearworth, M & White, L, 2017, ‘Demystifying facilitation: a new approach to investigating the role of facilitation in group decision support processes’. in: Group Decision and Negotiation. Theory, empirical evidence, and application: 16th International Conference, GDN 2016, Bellingham, WA, USA, June 20-24, 2016, revised selected papers. Springer


    We believe there are still large gaps in our knowledge of the facilitator role in group decision support processes as exemplified by the use of group model building approaches, and these must be understood and “de-mystified” if use of these methods is to become more widespread. We use the design and analysis of delivering online group model building, based on foundations established by Morton, Ackermann, and Belton (2007), to form a better understanding of the role of the facilitator. Our experimental configuration makes use of Group Explorer (Decision Explorer), a Group Support System (GSS) that is based on the Journey Making methodology (Ackermann & Eden, 2011; Eden & Ackermann, 2004; Montibeller, Shaw, & Westcombe, 2006), but delivered across the Internet in a distributed manner. The facilitator is thus no more or less visible and connected to the workshop as any other participant by way of its online nature. Data from a workshop delivered in this way is analysed and the findings discussed in relation to the following work; i) Callon (1986) on translation and specifically how facilitation addresses the questions of problematisation and interessement (White, 2009), ii) the work of Hiltz et al. (2013) on distributed GSS and the problem of animating methodology, and iii) the “death of the expert” (White & Taket, 1994), which gets to the heart of investigating the role of the facilitator as an expert in methodology. We conclude by reviewing the question of one possible end-point of this work – the demise of the expert facilitator and the rise of a participant-led group decision support process model.

    Full details in the University publications repository