Command and control in virtual environments: laboratory experimentation to compare virtual with physical
Bergin, Richard D.
Adams, Alicemary Aspell
Hudgens, Bryan J.
Lee, June G. Chinn Yi
Nissen, Mark E.
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Research in command and control is advancing rapidly through a campaign of laboratory experimentation using the ELICIT (Experimental Laboratory for Investigating Collaboration, Information-sharing and Trust) multiplayer online counterterrorism intelligence game. In most ELICIT experiments, participants play the game through a Web interface and interact with one another solely through textual information exchange. This mirrors in large part the network-centric environment associated with most counterterrorism intelligence work in practice, and it reflects what appears to be a wide spread assumption about how to organize such work: in a physically distributed, virtual manner. Such reflection is consistent with considerable research (e.g., in Education Psychology) prescribing such distributed, virtual environments for work performance. Alternatively, substantial research (e.g., Media Richness Theory) suggests instead that a more personal, physical environment offers potential to improve performance. Hence we have a theoretical conflict with potential to affect how the important work of counterterrorism intelligence is organized. The research described in this article addresses this theoretical conflict through a series of experiments to assess the comparative performance of people working in physical, face-to-face versus textual, virtual environments. Exercising great care to match experiment conditions and control for factors other than task environment, results elucidate important comparative performance effects and suggest compelling follow-on experiments as well as practical implications.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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