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Effects of Positions in Knowledge Networks on Trust

David Dekker ()

No 01-062/1, Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers from Tinbergen Institute

Abstract: This paper empirically explores relations between network positions in knowledge networks andtrust. In social network theory the closure argument and the gossip argument describe thisrelation. These two arguments do not distinguish between different dimensions of trust. In thispaper we estimate effects of closure positions on two dimensions of trust (trust in abilities andtrust in intentions). The closure argument emphasizes that dense network structures enforceindividuals to be trustworthy. The gossip argument emphasizes that dense networks amplifiesgossip. Since it was found that different network positions are optimal for different tasks, wepropose that the content of a network is an intrinsic characteristic of a network that influenceswhether gossip is neutral or judgmental. To discern between different contents we consider twotask-specific knowledge networks. Empirical data were collected on a network of 55 individuals inthe setting of account management. These data strongly support the gossip argument for bothdimensions of trust. However, the data only gave weak and ambiguous support for the closureargument.

Keywords: Trust; Knowledge Network Structures; Account Management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001-07-02
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