Collaborating with Strangers: How Personal Values Affect Generalized Exchange
39 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2021
Date Written: September 25, 2020
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
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