The Role of Technology in the Development of Group Trust

The Role of Technology in the Development of Group Trust

Anita L. Blanchard (University of North Carolina – Charlotte, USA) and Lisa Slattery Rashotte (University of North Carolina – Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-901-9.ch015

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors will elaborate a theoretical model for the development of group trust and the role that technology plays in that process. They first will articulate the particular nature of group trust, as opposed to individual trust or generalized trust. The authors then discuss the variables which affect group trust, such as sense of virtual community, entitativity, identity, and support. The authors will present a model that posits that technological features affect the commitment and attachment that lead to group trust. Technological features include group and personal identification cues (e.g., signature files, member activity). Future research directions utilizing this model are discussed.
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Introduction

Trust is an important component of online groups. Trust develops in these groups when the members feel as though they can rely on the information provided and believe in the other members. In this chapter, we are interested in examining how group trust develops in online groups that are supported by varying technologies in the forms of bulletin/discussion boards or newsgroups. We focus on these groups because they are a relatively common internet application and have a substantial history of use dating back to the first online communities (Finholt & Sproull, 1988; Rheingold, 1993; Sproull & Keisler, 1991). This provides us with a substantial body of knowledge within which to develop our conceptual model of trust and technology.

This chapter addresses the conceptual characteristics of the technologies and not the specific applications of the technologies. For example, in our model development, we will focus on the construct of identity technologies - of which signature files and group-specific emoticons are but two concrete examples. Our goal is to develop a theoretical model that will be applicable to bulletin boards and newsgroups but may also be applied to other online groups which are either in existence or may emerge in the future (e.g., the groups forming on social networking sites like Facebook).

Overall, our model posits that technological features are one mechanism affecting how identity, structure, and interaction create the commitment and attachment that lead to group trust. Technological features can include identification cues (e.g., signature files, member activity), message organization structure, and moderation.

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