Knowledge Diffusion and Morality: Why Do We Freely Share Valuable Information with Strangers?

31 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2020

See all articles by Charles Ayoubi

Charles Ayoubi

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship Institute (MTEI)

Boris Thurm

International Institute for Management Development - Enterprise for Society

Date Written: September 2, 2020

Abstract

Technology enables individuals, scientists, and organizations to share valuable data and knowledge in new ways, not possible before. Scholars are divided on how this phenomenon emerges, especially among strangers. The classical homo oeconomicus type of preference does not provide an explanation for this behavior. If individuals were simply self-centered, they would choose to keep for themselves the valuable information they hold, especially in the absence of any contract or guarantee of reciprocity. In this paper, we explain why some individuals are willing to share valuable knowledge at their own cost by crafting a model with heterogeneously-moral individuals involved in a sharing social dilemma. Our model builds on the recent literature showing that moral incentives are favored by evolution theoretically and have a strong explanatory power empirically. Our analysis highlights the limit of financial incentives, and the importance of promoting a sharing culture by enhancing awareness. Shedding light on how people respond not only to financial but also moral incentives, we contribute to the ongoing policy debate on the design of efficient open science policies.

Keywords: Data Sharing, Morality, Homo Moralis, Knowledge Diffusion, Social Dilemma, Public Information Goods

JEL Classification: H41, C71

Suggested Citation

Ayoubi, Charles and Thurm, Boris, Knowledge Diffusion and Morality: Why Do We Freely Share Valuable Information with Strangers? (September 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3685311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3685311

Charles Ayoubi (Contact Author)

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship Institute (MTEI) ( email )

Station 5
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://https://people.epfl.ch/charles.ayoubi

Boris Thurm

International Institute for Management Development - Enterprise for Society ( email )

Ch. de Bellerive 23
P.O. Box 915
CH-1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

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