Most of the existing work on technology support for information retrieval has focused on individual behavior. This helps us understand information gathering by groups up to a point, but group work is generally more complex than the sum of the behavior of the individuals involved. Specific needs arise in group interaction. Information that is acquired is shaped and communicated within the organization and these factors can all affect subsequent information seeking. These factors and behaviors are still not well understood.
At the same time, there is a growing focus on collaborative teamwork as an essential skill in today’s business environment. Universities and schools are responding to requests to provide experience and training in performing work collaboratively that is quite at odds with traditional approaches. Successful businesses can profit from having employees, suppliers, and partners distributed across regions and nations, and the benefit is of course greater if they work together effectively. Technology can enable these collaborations and provide the means to increase their effectiveness. We need to know how teams collectively obtain and integrate the information they need, when collocated or when distributed, and how to design technology to support this.