Trust in E-Technologies

Trust in E-Technologies

Andrea Oermann (Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany) and Jana Dittmann (Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-799-7.ch177
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When reflecting the term trust, there are two main hypotheses which can be found in most of the literature: First, trust is presented as an amorphous phenomenon, which is difficult to measure empirically (Endress, 2002). Second, the characteristic of trust is rather fragile. Trust as a mediator of social interactions cannot be quantified precisely, it has to be generated and recreated at any time varying with its social context. Volken summarizes this particular connection between trust and the context in which it is created: “Trust is a complex construct with multiple dimensions, and their relative effects on innovative actions may be highly dependent on their respective social context” (Volken, 2002). In the age of globalization trust is particularly important when one operates in the areas of e-commerce, e-government, and mobile commerce, or develops IT-systems which are touching the interface between technical innovation and its application by users. The latter live and work in a certain social context in which trust can be established in various ways. This necessarily has consequences for IT-solutions and IT-security which this article tries to explore. Giddens (1990) pointed out that “mechanised technologies of communication have dramatically influenced all aspects of globalization since the first introduction of mechanical printing into Europe [Johannes Gutenberg, 16th century]” (p.77). Without Johannes Gutenberg, there would have been no Reformation, without information technology, there would have been no global information age. Both historical developments, as different as they may be, took place in a certain social context, of which technical innovation became a part. At the same time every society depends on the key ingredient, which is a requirement for social interaction: Trust. As a reader of the Gutenberg Bible trusted that his book is complete and correct, any user of information technology trusts that the applied system functions properly and is reliable. The following questions arise: How does trust which basically is part of most social interactions fits within information technology using “0” and “1” to enable any sort of interaction? How is trust created, maintained and developed in the information age? Which forms of trust exist and are necessary to operate in an interconnected world? The article will explore these questions by describing current definitions and concepts of trust outside and inside a context of information technology. After exploring the link to concepts of trust in social science and culture a new concept of trust in e-technologies such as e-commerce, e-government, and mobile commerce will be developed. Important trust-building factors such as transparency or participation will be analyzed in order to conceptionally deal with the increasing importance of trust in a virtual world.

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