Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Repetitive Interaction Leads to Trust

Some time ago I told you I have a student, Arzu, who's researching enterprise social bookmarking. We'll she's almost finished with her thesis. And I can tell you, I'm really impressed with her work. She's delivered a very fundamental and also practical piece of work. I hope to share more with you from her work in the coming weeks. I'll share a nice quote with you right now. In her final chapters she refers to research done on 'trust' which I find very interesting.
Hsu et al. (2007) explored the effect of trust on knowledge sharing in virtual communities in different stages. They suggest that trust is developed in virtual communities by repetitive interaction of members over time and appears in three stages: economy-based, information-based and identification-based trust. As the relationship develops, the economy-based trust will move to knowledge-based trust, eventually identification-based trust. In the initial stage of participation to virtual communities, new members who have little knowledge about other members and their activities would develop economic-based trust that rests on behavior in general in the community. Economic-based trust (also called generalized-trust by Kankanhalli et al. (2005), competence-based trust by Abrams et al. (2003) ) is related to the economic gains such as increased knowledge, decreased time etc. Once the economic-based trust is set, individuals may feel a moral obligation and urged to reciprocate the contributions offered by the system. In online communities, reciprocity follows a generalized pattern; individuals decide to contribute when they benefit from the use of any publicly available information. The last formed trust is identification-based trust (benelovance by Abrams et al. (2003)) is based on emotional bonds between individuals.
This is really interesting, don't you think? These steps can be used when we build and cultivate communities in general and in the social space specifically. It also helps us do the right thing at every stage. For instance, don't expect employees that have no emotional bond with each other to share voluntarily. When a community is created/started people will decide to join or not. The decision will mostly be made on 'what's in it for me?' criteria. So, you have to be able to answer that question, or else they'll move to the next community and share there.


What do you think? Are these stages helpful? And do they relate to your experience?
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