Empowering the Economic Impact of Virtual Communities: Managing Trust in the Sharing Economy

Empowering the Economic Impact of Virtual Communities: Managing Trust in the Sharing Economy

Tuğçe Aslan (Duzce University, Turkey) and Adem Akbıyık (Sakarya University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2185-4.ch007
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Developments in information and communication technologies have led to changes in the consumption patterns of individuals and the distancing of businesses from traditional business models. Globally, the digital transformation process has led businesses to more innovative and flexible business models. Sharing economy is a type of digital economy in which goods or services are shared through digital networks, is an innovative and flexible business model. One of the key factors in sharing economic business models is the perception of trust. The term trust has been called the currency of the sharing economy. This chapter examines trust issues in sharing economy to empower the economic impact of virtual communities because trust is a key element in strengthening participation or knowledge sharing in virtual communities. In this respect, the concept of virtual communities and trust is explained. Moreover, the concept of trust in virtual communities and the effects of virtual communities on the economy are evaluated within the framework of sharing economy.
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The emergence of information communication technologies and especially the internet has enabled the communities formed in physical environments to move to the digital world. The Internet connects people from all over the world to create virtual communities by eliminating time limits (Ridings, 2000). Understanding virtual communities can provide valuable information about the digital economy. In the digital economy, the purchase and sale of goods and services among peers are done through technological processes (Hojeghan & Esfangareh, 2011). The rapid development of technological developments and the intense information of individuals affect trust in digital environments.

As trust represents the primary building block of society, it plays a vital role in the formation and development of interactions and relations while sharing commercial services. (Mazzella, Sundararajan, Butt d’Espous, & Möhlmann, 2016; Westrøm et al., 2015). Trust in collaborative consumption is among peers, and therefore, different from online stores, systems, or trust in shopping (Lu, Zhao, & Wang, 2010). Vendor identification on the web is generally unknown, and buyers do not have direct contact with the offered products and have uncertainties about product quality (Bauerly, 2009). It is imperative to build trust within the sharing economy to reduce the uncertainties felt (Botsman & Rogers, 2010, p. 15). In a virtual environment, participants are usually anonymous and cannot perform direct face-to-face communication. In this context, the social network helps to increase the degree of trust that allows a stranger to use his vehicle, house, or other personal belongings. Buyers and sellers who connect through social networks can view their online profiles. The social profiles of the participants reduce the risk of a transaction in an online environment. In order to create a reliable online reputation, both sellers and buyers must take full advantage of social networks (Nadler, 2014).

This chapter aims to examine trust issues in sharing economy in order to empower the economic impact of virtual communities. In this respect, firstly, the concept of trust has been discussed in general terms, and the concept of trust in online communities has been put forward with differences. Then, the economic effects of trust in online communities were evaluated within the framework of the sharing economy by giving examples from the literature. Moreover, the relationship between culture and trust was examined. Also, the concept of risk and reliability associated with trust is tried to be explained. Finally, general evaluations were made in the light of the suggestions and future topics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Communities: The emergence of information and communication technologies, especially the internet, has brought face-to-face and physically formed communities into a virtual environment. This community is a virtual community when interpersonal interaction occurs with electronic means, and communication is enabled by technology.

The Term Trust: Trust from past to present has always been an essential factor since it reduces the uncertainty and risk of both social and business life. Although many kinds of research have been done in the past on the concept of trust, which has become increasingly important with developing technology, there is no standard definition of this concept. This uncertainty arises from the fact that trust is an abstract concept. Due to the multidimensional nature of the concept, it has been tried to be explained with different perspectives under multiple disciplines.

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