Collaborating with Strangers: How Personal Values Affect Generalized Exchange

39 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2021

See all articles by Sheen S. Levine

Sheen S. Levine

University of Texas at Dallas; Columbia University

Wayne E. Baker

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: September 25, 2020

Abstract

Cooperation and reciprocity are the bedrock of organizational work. They have gained renewed attention as technological advances avail new venues for collaborative work. Yet a challenge remains: While expanding possibilities, computer-mediated interaction also removes some presumed guardians of reciprocity, elevating the risk of breakdown in collaboration. How does large-scale reciprocity emerge among strangers? One mechanism is generalized exchange, a fundamental form of reciprocity. Prior work, in the social and biological sciences, has stressed its dependence on situational factors, such as reputation. We complement theory by focusing on individual factors, defining and testing a novel measure based on personal values. We test it alongside situational factors in experiments in the US and Asia, and demonstrate how individual and situational factors contribute separately but also interact to affect generalized exchange, ultimately fostering it among strangers. The findings inform diverse conversations, including those on organizational help, knowledge sharing, crowds, and open collaboration.

Keywords: cooperation; exchange; reciprocity; technology; software; experiment

Suggested Citation

Levine, Sheen S. and Baker, Wayne E., Collaborating with Strangers: How Personal Values Affect Generalized Exchange (September 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3679618 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3679618

Sheen S. Levine (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

2601 North Floyd Road
Richardson, TX 75083
United States

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Wayne E. Baker

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-764-2306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.waynebaker.org

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