Role of Trust in Ecommerce: A Comprehensive Model of Interpersonal and Technology Trust Constructs

Role of Trust in Ecommerce: A Comprehensive Model of Interpersonal and Technology Trust Constructs

Narasimha Paravastu, Sam Ramanujan, Pauline Ratnasingam
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch122
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Ecommerce is defined as value based exchanges between two or more parties, such as buying and selling products, services over the Internet which may also include electronic transfer of information between the transacting parties (Chen & Dhillon, 2003; Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky, & Vitale, 2000; Lawrence, Corbitt, Tidwell, Fisher, & Lawrence, 1998; Riggins & Rhee, 1998; Zwass, 1996). Trust is a crucial factor in such internet based online exchanges due to their impersonal nature. Trust reduces social complexity and enables different parties with diverse information bases, beliefs and experiences to collaborate in face to face as well as online economic or social transactional exchanges (David Gefen, 2000; D. Gefen, Karahanna, & Straub, 2003; Lewis & Weigert, 1985; Luhmann, 1979; D. H. McKnight, Choudhury, & Kacmar, 2002). In the context of ecommerce transactions, past research has proposed and tested various forms of interpersonal trust, in initial formation as well as in continuing relationships. (Doney & Cannon, 1997; Lewicki & Bunker, 1995; D.H. McKnight, Cummings, & Chervany, 1998; Meyerson, Weick, & Kramer, 1995; Pavlou & Gefen, 2004; Shapiro, Sheppard, & Cheraskin, 1992). Because of the lack of direct personal interaction between the parties in online transactions and the nature of these transactions, ecommerce is fraught with unique risks (H. G. Lee, 1998). Therefore, extending beyond interpersonal relationships, trust has been extrapolated into the ecommerce technology contexts as well such as trust in online recommendation agents that act on behalf of an ecommerce seller, or, software artifacts that act on behalf of online customers or organizations, and trust in inanimate software artifacts such as spreadsheet software, or antiviral software (D Harrison Mcknight, Carter, Thatcher, & Clay, 2011; Paravastu, Gefen, & Creason, 2014; Ratnasingam & Pavlou, 2003; Vance, Elie-Dit-Cosaque, & Straub, 2008; Wang & Benbasat, 2005, 2007, 2008).

Though the interpersonal trust constructs have been tested extensively in interpersonal contexts such as trust in an ecommerce vendor (D. Gefen et al., 2003; D. H. McKnight et al., 2002), and technology trust constructs in technology contexts (D Harrison Mcknight et al., 2011; Paravastu et al., 2014; Wang & Benbasat, 2007), the combined role of interpersonal and technology trust constructs, and their relative importance has not been tested in the past research. This paper presents a comprehensive review of interpersonal and technology trust constructs as applicable to ecommerce. Based on findings from past research, this paper proposes a combined model of trust constructs and presents technology trust constructs as external bases of trust as they relate to interpersonal trust. The theoretical and managerial implications are presented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Perceived Ease-of-Use: The degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be effortless.

Interpersonal Trust: Defined as the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another based on assessments about the characteristics of the trustee such as ability, benevolence and integrity.

Technology Trust: The willingness of the trustor to endure the consequences of relying on a technology or software artifact based on an expectation that it will help accomplish objectives expected of it that are important to him or her.

Integrity: The belief that the trustee will adhere to an expected ethical or moral code.

Situational Normality: In the context of interpersonal trust is the perception that the relationship is similar to other similar trust exchanges, and the favorable conditions exist in the relationship for successful outcomes.

Institutional-Based Trust: The perception of security in a trust relationship that the expected outcomes and the remedies for violations are guaranteed by the structural assurances and situational normality built into the relationship.

Trust Modes: The bases of trust that are external to the trustee (or a technology), which form the basis for trusting beliefs and trusting intentions.

Predictability or Reliability: A trustworthiness attribute of technology and corresponds to integrity dimension of interpersonal trustworthiness. Predictability or reliability is defined as the users’ perceptions that a software or technology will do what it is claimed to do reliably and consistently, and not doing anything malicious.

Knowledge-based trust: In the context of interpersonal trust is an informed assessment that the probable future behaviors can be accurately estimated and relied upon for positive relational outcomes or the parties, based on their past interactions. In the context of technology trust, it is the user’s understanding of the technology, based on having adopted and used the technology.

Structural Assurances: In the context of interpersonal trust are the institutional guarantee structures built into the relationship such as formal contracts, guarantees, and legal recourse that are available to the trusting party to ensure success of a transactional exchange. Situational normality is the user’s feeling of ease with a class of technologies, to which the particular technology the user plans to trust or use belongs.

Structural Assurances: In the context of technology trust is the perception of the user that technology is backed by the guarantees, warranties, or other technical support from the software maker exist to ensure.

Ability: The specific set of skills of the trustee in a particular domain that enable him or her to fulfill the responsibilities that are expected of him or her and important for the trustor.

Benevolence: The belief that the trustee will act without self-interest and care for the interests of the trustor.

Trustor: The person who places trust in another person or technology.

Trustworthiness Beliefs: The set of beliefs or estimations of the trustor about the characteristics specific to the trustee, or, in case of technology trust, a technology artifact.

Performance or Functionality: A trustworthiness attribute of technology and corresponds to ability dimension of interpersonal trustworthiness. Performance or Functionality dimension of a software artifact is defined as the users’ perceptions of capability of the software artifact to accomplish the purpose for which it was designed.

Helpfulness: A trustworthiness attribute of technology and corresponds to benevolence dimension of interpersonal trustworthiness. Helpfulness is defined as the software being able to provide help, guidance or direction, when the users need it.

Trustee: The person in whom another person places trust.

Perceived usefulness: The perception of a user about the extent to which a particular technology would contribute to accomplish tasks important to the user.

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