Building Trust through Knowledge Sharing: Implications for Incentive System Design
50 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015 Last revised: 16 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 14, 2020
We examine whether knowledge sharing can enhance the efficacy of implicit, trust-based incentives. Using a stark laboratory experiment, we find support for theory suggesting that individuals believe that their knowledge is an important part of their identity, making it costly to share, but facilitating greater trust that recipients of this knowledge will reciprocate with future rewards. Utilizing participants with substantial work experience, results from additional scenario-based experiments demonstrate practical implications of this theory. Collectively, the results from our experiments show that individuals help others less when the help conveys personal knowledge relative to when it does not absent the prospect of rewards, but more when they can expect future rewards (i.e., with implicit incentives). Importantly, knowledge sharing only increases the efficacy of implicit incentives when they are determined by the help recipient. With this paper, we contribute to a better understanding of incentive systems designed to promote knowledge sharing in practice.
Keywords: knowledge sharing, helping behavior, implicit incentives, trust
JEL Classification: C91, J33, D82, D83, M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation