Trust Transfer in Sharing Economy

A Survey-Based Approach

Bachelor Thesis, 2017
72 Pages, Grade: 1,0



List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations


1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Background
2.1. Sharing Economy
2.2. Trust and its Dimensions

3. Trust Transfer - A Review
3.1. Literature Review
3.1.1. Methodology of Literature Review
3.1.2. Trust Transfer Mechanism
3.1.3. Trust Transfer Theory Trust Transfer from an Entity Trust Transfer from a Context
3.2. Trust Transfer in the Sharing Economy
3.2.1. Trust Transfer Situation
3.2.2. Existing Trust Transfer Solutions

4. Research Model
4.1. Control Variables

5. Methodology: Study Design
5.1. Preliminary Questionnaire
5.2. The Online Survey

6. Study Results

7. Discussion
7.1. Limitations
7.2. Future Research

8. Conclusion

9. Declaration

A. Construct Items
B. Interface of the online survey
C. Alternative Construct Items Using ”Within” Design
D. The Research Model - Study Results only with Significant Paths
E. Discriminant Validity - Crossloadings


List of Figur

3.1. An illustration of two trust mechanisms from trustor to trustee

3.2. An illustration of trust transfer model with a mediator

3.3. Depiction of the Research objective

4.1. The research model

5.1. Matrix of Treatments - The study’s trust transfer scenarios

5.2. Network Graph - The Study’s trust transfer scenarios

6.1. Findings of the study (Overall Trust): path coefficients

6.2. Findings of the study (Trust dimensions): path coefficients

7.1. “How does trust transfer?” - Matrix presentation of the overall trust score .

A. 1. Explanation of the abbreviation

B. 2. A screenshot of online survey interface: case four

B.3. A screenshot of online survey interface: case six

D.4. Findings of the study (Overall Trust): path coefficients

D.5. Findings of the study (Trust dimensions): path coefficients

List of Tables

2.1. Clustered trust dimensions in previous research -1

2.2. Clustered trust dimensions in previous research - 2

2.3. Clustered trust dimensions in previous research - 3

3.1. An overview of the trust transfer literature review

3.2. Sorted references of related works on trust transfer from an entity

3.3. Sorted references of related works on trust transfer from a context

3.4. Overview of startup solutions for “reputation dashboard” so far

6.1. Fornell-Larcker Criterion

A.1. Construct Items and descriptive statistics

C. 2. Alternative sketch version of items design using “within” study analysis . .

E.3. Crossloadings - Discriminant Validity of the research model

E.4. Keys and Constructs

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


The sharing economy is experiencing explosive growth around the globe in which trust plays a crucial role and builds the foundation of the services. With the rise of the sharing economy and the increasing numbers of cross-contextual users, this research aims at the lack of trust transference possibilities across the Peer-to-Peer applications and has the goal to find out whether and how trust can be transferred between the platforms, so that new users do not have to create their reputation from scratch every time they join a new platform. First, this research provides an in­depth literature review of trust transfer theories. Secondly, a conceptual research model for the role of the imported trust in the context of the sharing economy is outlined and analysed by proposing and evaluating a questionnaire using structural equation modeling. Throughout the study, a three­dimensional scale of trust, i.e. ability, benevolence and integrity, is validated in the context of the sharing economy. The experimental study shows that both the overall and subdimensional trust in the provider is directly affected by the overall trust in the platform, the perceived reputation as well as the perceived social presence. The study also provides empirical evidence for the existence of trust transferability. The findings show that in addition to the immanent ratings, imported ratings also significantly affect the perceived reputation of the provider positively. Finally, this paper discusses further details of the trust transfer processes and broadens implications for future research.

1. Introduction

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles [...] Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” (Bear, 2015).

One of the most remarkable developments of the 21st century global marketplace is indeed the rapid growth and the evolution of the sharing economy (Bert, Collie, Xu, & Gerrits, 2016). Today, ordinary people can rent or short-term everything from high-end houses to cars, luxury handbags to musical instruments, designer pets to power boats. Sharing economy has established itself as a competitive sector with huge potential and thus, gained much importance in recent years. A prog­nosis of the consulting agency PWC showed that a potential revenue opportunity of this industry would worth 335 billion US-Dollar by 2025. As a matter of fact, Airbnb now already averages 425,000 guests per night, nearly 22 % more than Hilton Worldwide (Vaughan & Hawksworth, 2014).

If peer-to-peer marketplace is the future, it will require trust between the peers which is a crucial element because trust is the currency of the new economy (Botsman, 2012). Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group[1] emphasized as well that trust is the most important element at P2P marketplaces where people do not even trust face to face, especially in countries like China.

While a multiplicity of independent P2P platforms is developing, a problem has been identified - the technically independent platforms are not connected with each other, i.e. new users have to es­tablish their reputation every time from scratch when they join a new platform (Zacharia, Moukas, & Maes, 2000), even though they have well-documented trust history on other participating plat­forms. The research objective of this work is to find out if, and how the trust between different sharing economy applications transfers. This article contributes by developing a model where the linkage between different platforms is proposed. E.g., a new user of Ebay would theoretically be able to link his profile of Airbnb to show his available reliability and trustworthiness, in order to create a better reputation.

The core of the research question is how would trust transfer throughout the platforms in detail. E.g. Would a well-reputed Ebay seller be qualified as a trustworthy Airbnb host? And vice versa? It is obvious that more elements play important roles in this conducted research model. One may enjoy a high reputation for his expertise in one domain, while having a low one in another, e.g. Linux Guru has high reputation in Linux Forum but low reputation in Windows operations (Zacharia et al., 2000).

The main part of the study’s development is derived from the established three trust dimensions - ability, integrity and benevolence as well as some trust (transfer) theories. A complete literature review of trust transfer is provided where various trust transfer situations are analysed, classified and synthesized. Subsequently in the conducted study, data of trust transfer between four selected sharing economy platforms was collected with 140 participants. The systematic approach follows a matrix combination from the “target platform” to the “origin platform”. Therefore, the observa­tion is based on the trust of the provider side (i.e., driver, host, seller, lessor). Correspondingly, the participants take the role of the consumers, i.e., car passenger, guest, buyer or renter. The reputation would be only considered based on the star-ratings.

The rest of the work is structured as follows: section 2 discusses and provides introduction for the context of this work’s background with focus on the sharing economy and the trust dimensions.

The next section 3 summarizes and synthesizes the previous studies of trust transfer, defines and discusses the trust transfer situation in the sharing economy with a presentation of existing trust transfer solutions. Section 4 then develops and presents the hypothesises in figure 4.1 regarding the “imported trust” underlying trust transfer. In section 5, the study results and the design of the conducted experiment (and a preliminary questionnaire) are presented and the research model is described. Finally, the article concludes with a discussion, limitation and implications for future research.

2. Theoretical Background

This chapter aims to provide theoretical background of the topic and comprises a literature review of three relevant aspects : the sharing economy, trust and its dimensions. The sharing economy, as the context the process takes place in, is briefly introduced in section 2.1. The definition and the dimensions of trust are then presented in section 2.2.

2.1. Sharing Economy

The term “sharing economy” is disputable. First, it has a few synonyms - Botsman and Rogers (2011) described it as “collaborative consumption”, Gansky (2010) “the mesh” and Lamberton and Rose (2012) “commercial sharing systems”. However, a “shared definition” lacks in the sharing economy, as Botsman (2012) put it. A variety of definitions exist. The Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times have argued that “sharing economy” is a misnomer (Eckhardt & Bardhi, 2015; O’Connor, 2016). The former one suggested the correct word in the broad sense of the term to be “access economy” because the market-mediated “sharing” through a company as intermediary between individual consumers is no longer “sharing” in the traditional definition at all. Rather, consumers are paying to access someone else’s goods or services. Thus, the term of sharing economy in this work refers accordingly to a business model where the participants share unused resources among them via peer to peer services (Boeckmann, 2013; Kamal & Chen, 2016) and is assumed to be a synonym of the word “peer-to-peer services”.

The scope of sharing economy is wide. There are sharing economy models in various types through­out different areas. To name a few examples, Blablacar [1], Uber [2] and Lyft [3] count to automotive & transportation; Airbnb [4] and Couchsurfing [5] belong to Hospitality category; Retailing also sets its foot in sharing economy with Kleiderkreisel [6] or Rent-the-runway [7]; More platforms like TaskRab- bit [8] provide even human and knowledge resources in form of freelance labor to match local demand on everyday-tasks. Sharing economy enables more efficient resources being money-and-time-saving and traffic-and-pollution-reducing. In this sense, it is considered as important as the “Industrial Revolution” in terms of how people think about ownership (Botsman & Rogers, 2011) as we are cur­rently living in a world facing problems of global warming, rising fuel prices and growing pollution (Belk, 2013).

2.2. Trust and its Dimensions

President Ronald Reagan once said famously, “Trust but verify” which is an obfuscation. Trusting means actually that you do not have to verify. The roles of trust and risk have yet to be identified and defused. Trust is risk mitigation (Green, 2015). If we could all decide purely based on faith or if we could predict others’ behavior and intentions with definite certainty, then trust itself would not be necessary and required, according to Lewis and Weigert (1985).

Yet the fact is, we need trust and trust is very important, especially in the context of the sharing economy which was born with stacks of promises. The consulting company BCG listed trust as one of the three core principles of the sharing economy (trust, coverage and value). People leverage their trust for creating efficiency participating in sharing economy services. In this special case of P2P platforms and social networks, there is additionally the culture of anonymity (Nunes & Correia, 2013), and people behave differently when they are anonymous (Brogan & Smith, 2009). For this reason P2P platforms carry naturally higher risks than e.g. B2C e-commerce because there is no institutional credibility provided by a company in this case (Nunes & Correia, 2013). Creating “sharing trust” in sharing economy, thus, is important but also challenging.

Companies like Airbnb have the obstacle to convince users not to fear, but to entrust complete strangers by creating a trust system including ratings and comments. Just like the trusted hotel brand Hilton which made people feel safe, sharing economy has brought people to the era trusting (and be trusted by) one another in the web of complex peer-to-peer network. Therefore, the role of trust is, as an imagined “currency”, very crucial.


Trust has been the main driving force behind the human bonding and social reciprocities (Kamal & Chen, 2016). The commercial role of trust, being initially important in the context of e-commerce (Mui, Mohtashemi, & Halberstadt, 2002; Palvia, 2009; Stolle, 2002) has now been already frequently investigated in the context of the sharing economy, too. To name a few examples: de Jonge and Sierra (2016); Hawlitschek, Teubner, and Weinhardt (2016); Kamal and Chen (2016); Teubner, Saade, Hawlitschek, and Weinhardt (2016); Zervas, Proserpio, and Byers (2015) and Green (2015). Besides, recent incidents such as shootings by an Uber driver (Kauzlarich, 2016) or robbery at hosted Airbnb apartment (Arrington, 2011) also reminded us on the importance of trust concerning. These incidents underlined again that trust is the key to sustain the growth and success of a world of sharing instead of owning (Botsman & Rogers, 2011). The consulting house Roland Berger emphasized that “to share is to trust. That, in a nutshell, is the fundamental principle.” (Schonberg, 2014) - Trust is, despite merits, a decisive element in the context of the sharing economy and is accordingly considered as a fundamental factor in this work.

Trust has been defined as “the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expecta­tions of the intentions or behaviors of another” (Rousseau, Sitkinand, Burt, & Camerer, 1998). Deutsch (1958) defined trust with three typically consisting trust dimensions inspired from Aris- totles’ Rhetoric long ago: intelligence (corresponding “ability”); good character (corresponding “integrity”) and goodwill (corresponding “benevolence”). Meanwhile trust contains behavioral in­tentions and cognitive elements where the former case deals with increasing vulnerability to each other by interdependent actors and the latter case deals with context-related beliefs about the trusted party that provide justification for the behavior (Gefen & Straub, 2004; Lewis & Weigert, 1985; Rossiter & Pearce, 1975).

The Trust Dimensions

The subdivision of trust dimensions is disputable. Some researchers agree that trust is multidimen­sional (R. Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995; Rousseau et al., 1998) in consistency as mentioned, whereas few researchers believe that trust functions as a unitary concept, e.g. Rotter (1980) de­fined interpersonal trust as “an expectancy held by an individual or a group that the word, promise, verbal or written statement of another individual or group can be relied on”. For analyzing and understanding how trust can be transferred from one entity or context to another, trust needs to be subdivided into structured clusters in this context. Therefore, this work is consistent with the multidimensional point of view. Details of the trust dimensions will be discussed in the following passages.

In table 2.1, table 2.2 and table 2.3, previous literature reviews of varying trust dimensionality summarized by Gefen and Straub (2004); McKnight, Choudhury, and Kacmar (2002) and addi­tional summary of this work are presented in three separate tables for a better overview. They are conceptually clustered to categories. There are 19 columns describing the related dimensions and accompanying subtypes of trust which are grouped in the following categories: (i) ability (competence(C), expertness(E), dynamism(D)); (ii) benevolence (goodwill(G), benevolence(B), responsiveness^)); (iii) integrity (integrity(I), morality(M), credibility(C), reliability(R), depend­ability^), honesty(H)); aspects (iv) not included in the main categories (predictability(P), open- ness(O), carefulness(C), attraction(A), shared social expectations(S), belief and willingness in trust­worthiness^), positive expectation(P)). The reasons for division of the tables are both making clear this work's contribution of completion and literature updating with more recent research, since the context of the sharing economy is relatively new. Besides, it should be noted that the dimensions mentioned in the literature above are context-specific, that means the trust processes take place in different settings (Gefen & Straub, 2004; Luhmann, 1979).

As the tables show, although many trust dimensions existed in the reviewed literature through the years, the three most frequently used trusting beliefs are unequivocal to see as both of the counts of each table and the final count in the third table show — competence, benevolence and integrity. Because of the clear dominance of the final count showing involved categories along with the additional supporting statements of Gefen (1997), Bhattacherjee (2002) and R. Mayer et al. (1995), these three beliefs are shown as the most widely accepted and adapted and thus are decisive[9] for this work.

To be noticed is that in the research model (clarified in section 4) the three above mentioned dimensions of overall trust are yet, broken down to only two (constructs): “provider’s ability” and “providers’ integrity and benevolence”. The first reason is that Gefen (2002c) suggested to look upon trustworthiness beliefs as “a set of interrelated beliefs” rather than as one overall assessment. The authors stated that a general bundling belief would be an “oversimplification” owing to the fact that consumer beliefs in the ability of the provider may affect shopping intentions whereas the aspect of integrity and benevolence affect purchase intentions. Although many other researchers also considered three components of trust, Lu, Zhao, and Wang (2010); C. M. Ridings, Gefen, and Arinze (2002) suggested that in the context of the virtual community two dimensions — ability and a combined benevolence and integrity dimension, are applicable with the rationale that both lead to the same behavior. In addition, they are hard to be distinguished as acknowledged in preparation opinion poll letting interviewees sort the matching items and constructs. Thus, this view is adopted in this work and the dimension of integrity and benevolence belief are bundled in the practical research.

The three trust dimensions are explained as follows, according to the research of McKnight et al. (2002). Possible examples are attached to each dimension based on logical dependencies and own experience in P2P services.

(i) Competence means primarily ability of the trustee to do what the truster needs.

For example, an Airbnb host should be able to organize and manage the place of accommodation; An Ebay-Seller ought to know the process of selling operation and has the competence to send his items to the buyer; A Blablacar driver as trustee needs to at least have the technical ability to control the vehicle properly.

(ii) Benevolence stands for kindheartedness, the quality of being well-meaning and general decency as a human. A benevolent trustee is caring and motivated to act in the truster’s interest. Benev- olence represents one’s goodwill and responsiveness whereas integrity refers to ones’s morality, credibility, reliability and dependability to show that they have ethical right-mindedness.

(iii) Integrity demands the trustee’s quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, e.g. keeping promises.

I would give some examples regarding the selected platforms. A typical character feature of a benevolent provider with integrity would be e.g. answering phone for requests, being punctual and respectful. They have normally no desire to hurt or deceive and have readiness to help in case something is wrong. Such an Airbnb renter would show the guest the house and quickly does a handover, they may also answer some (e.g. touristic) questions if they can. An Uber driver would be punctual, and he would not e.g. intentionally operate a circuitous route. A Blablacar driver would be caring and arrive at the destination place as arranged, or even drop off someone who lives on the way. An Ebay user of benevolence and integrity would describe his selling articles in an honest way and would not act with intention to defraud.

Despite of adapting the three selected trust dimensions, another popularly accepted trust dimension of predictability is still worth-mentioning since the definition of “trust” by Stewart (2003) is that of a trustworthy agent with “benevolent, competent, honest and predictable behavior in a situation. Lewicki and Stevenson (1997) found that predictability enhances trust even if the other’s behavior is untrustworthy, for the reason that we can predict the ways that the other will violate the trust. For instance, Buntain and Golbeck (2015) applied this aspect for their strategy trust game by defining varying degree of trust based on identifying the behavior patterns and recognizing participants’ predictability. In context of this work there are currently no clear indicators allowing trustors to establish the point. Future work could alternatively consider this dimension. Furthermore, it is to be noticed that there are still missing aspects such as cultural differences (Sia, Kai H. Lim, Lee, & Huang, 2009) which are not included in the summarized tables.

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Table 2.1.: Clustered trust dimensions in previous research - 1

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Table 2.2.: Clustered trust dimensions in previous research - 2

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Table 2.3.: Clustered trust dimensions in previous research - 3

3. Trust Transfer - A Review

In this section, the process of trust transfer is analyzed based on related literature. In section 3.1, the methodology used, trust-transfer-relevant mechanisms and theories are reviewed. Subsequently in section 3.2, trust transfer in the special context of the sharing economy as well as the existent corresponding solutions are discussed separately.

3.1. Literature Review

The following passages provide an in-depth literature analysis of trust transfer. In order to examine how trust can be transferred, the trust dimensions discussed above will serve as the foundation. The literature review is structured as follows: first, section 3.1.1 gives a short summary of the methodology used for the literature-based review part. Next, section 3.1.2 presents how the trust transfer model functions with different roles. Finally, section 3.1.3 shows an overview of literature- review-based trust transfer theory classified by the source of trust transfer process.

3.1.1. Methodology of Literature Review

The literature review of trust transfer is based on the review guideline provided by Webster and Watson (2002). The broad structure of this review follows the following sequence: (1) Scoping search and planning, (2) Literature research, (3) Analysis and selection, (4) Literature synthesis.

The term “trust transfer” has been discussed in various scopes of research fields. Since the context of the sharing economy is relatively new in research, a restriction in this field would lead to a too narrow-setting boundary. The scoping search showed that although many applicable works have been found with the key variable of “trust transfer”, the modern context of the “sharing economy” has not allowed me to find an established literature foundation. The object of this literature review can be observed as the second type of review papers according to Webster and Watson (2002). This is to summarize and emerge the hitherto existing related theories, expose the potential theoretical foundations and eventually, adapt the knowledge and phenomenon, if applicable, to the field of this work - the sharing economy.

A scoping search was undertaken using search results of the site of Google Scholar [1] which serves as a database of full text scholarly literature across publishing formats and disciplines. The antecedent of the topic originates from psychology whereas the most results belong to the field of e-Commerce (Ballester & Espallardo, 2008) with literature of information networks (e.g. distributed networks (Dong et al., 2007) and social networks (Golbeck, 2005). Therefore, the literature review drawn upon in this work will be, in a nutshell, dominantly in the field of Information Systems (IS).

Approaching a systematic research as suggested by Webster and Watson (2002), a structured iden­tification process should include major search in the leading journals, forward search and backward review.

The top journals in the leading database - the “Senior Scholars Basket of eight Journals” have been looked up first. The used search term was “trust transfer” [2]. Besides, journals published on Communications of the Association for Information Systems and Journal of Information Technol­ogy Theory and Application (JITTA) have also been reviewed by the same search term. Eighteen results were identified in total.

Continuing with the forward search using database of Google Scholar, the search terms used were “trust transfer” [3], “trust transfer” + “sharing economy” [4] and “trust in sharing economy” [5].

All of the raw “potential literature” pieces were first evaluated regarding their relevance for the review in the above defined context. The process occurred by first reading publication titles and abstract in the previous review; on the next level depending on the degree of relevance, sections such as conclusion, result and even the whole text have been studied particularly.

If the content of the literature piece was rated as rather relevant, backward reference searching was also involved, that is, examining the references cited in those selected articles in order to study the origins, development and experts of the themes. A second-level backward reference search has also been used, if the literature piece is frequently cited. From all the previously mentioned literature base after removing redundant content, eighty-three literature works are presented in the following review, sorted by categories.

If the content of the literature piece was rated as rather relevant, backward reference searching was also involved, that is, examining the references cited in those selected articles in order to study the origins, development and experts of the themes. A second-level backward reference search has also been used, if the literature piece is frequently cited. From all the previously mentioned literature base after removing redundant content, eighty-three literature works are presented in the following review, sorted by categories.

3.1.2. Trust Transfer Mechanism

Stewart (2003) defined trust transfer as following: when a person (the trustor) bases initial trust in an entity (a person, group, or organization referred to as the target) on trust in some other related entity, or on a context other than the one in which the target is encountered, e.g. a different place or platform. The process of trust transfer is also referred to transitivity of trust (Buntain & Golbeck, 2015).

Trust transfer mechanisms are established on the basis of natural neurological procedures. They are the outcome of the activation of brain areas which generates trust. Through brain activation, activity in the insular cortex (brain area that encodes uncertainty and risk) relates to situational normality perceptions in human beings (Riedl, Hubert, & Kenning, 2010).

In this work, two kinds of trust transfer mechanisms are taken into account — “direct” trust transfer and trust transfer with a broker (Stewart, 2006; Zacharia et al., 2000).

Both of the two mechanisms involve up to three actors. First, the person who makes judgments on whether to trust the other is the trustor. In this case, initial trust in an entity or a context of the trustor is already available so that the trust can be eventually transferred. Secondly, the person whose trustworthiness is assessed by the trustor has the role of the trustee. Thirdly, but not necessarily, a broker functions as a mediator if there is one (Stewart, 2006). The underlying logic with a party is that when the trustor trusts in the third party, i.e. a mediator or broker such as a platform or person, there is also a close relationship between the trustee and the third party. The trustor’s trust in the third party will be therefore transferred to the trustee (Wang et al., 2013).

To express the logic as described above and showed in figure 3.1 in sentences, the first case with two parties involved would be that a trustor trusts a trustee. An exemplary trustor in the context of the sharing economy could be the person or entity that is the potential renter or user, i.e. person who demands the asset on Airbnb. In this case, the trustee could be the owner of the asset who can be a person or entity. It has to be noticed here that also the context requirement (in this case, Airbnb) of a trust mechanism. The trust dimensions represent different specific requirements for the actors depending on the context (see section 2.2). The second situation with three parties would be that a trustor trusts an intermediate trust broker, which is trusted by a trustee so that the trust can be transferred from the trustor to the trustee. To illustrate, Trustcloud can be named as a representative example for the trust broker case. Specific aspects will be considered in section 3.2.2. In the latter involving case, the third party is referred to the source of trust transfer and the trustee as the target of trust transfer (Wang et al., 2013) while in the first situation with two involved parties, the trustor is the source of trust transfer.

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Table 3.1.: An overview of the trust transfer literature review.

Both trust transfer mechanisms serve as the basis for the trust transfer theories in section 3.1.3. From another angle, more practical examples of these two models can be found in the next section.

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Figure 3.1.: An illustration of two trust mechanisms from trustor to trustee.

(Left: trust transfer mechanism with two involved parties; right: trust mechanism with three involved parties.)

3.1.3. Trust Transfer Theory

Stewart's definition of the cognitive process allows trust to possibly transfer from one entity or context to a separate entity or context (Buntain & Golbeck, 2015) while a context refers to the situation in which a target is encountered, specifically the institutional structures in the situation which will be clarified in the section (Stewart, 2003). The following literature-based trust transfer theory is divided into two parts, categorized by different kinds of sources — trust transfer from an entity in section and trust transfer from a context (to an entity or a context) in section An overview is given by table 3.1. Each category will later be discussed in depth with a concept table respectively. The concept tables outline the most representative trust transfer processes and are thus only a subset of the reviewed literature. The terminology is defined according to Strang, Linnhoff-Popien, and Frank (2003) and Tavakolifard, Knapskog, and Herrmann (2008): an entity is a person, a place or an object and a context is the set of all context information characterizing the entities relevant for a specific task with their relevant aspects.

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Table 3.2.: Sorted references of related works on trust transfer from an entity. Trust Transfer from an Entity

For trust transfer from an entity as the source of trust, the transitivity only occurs when a per­son bases initial trust in an entity on trust in some other related entity (Stewart, 2003). In this review, the definition is applicable except for the one and only case of 1.2 trust transfer from en­tity to context. This chapter contains trust transfer (1) from entity to entity and (2) from entity to context. The first category is broken down into subsets: intra-channel trust transfer and oth­ers. An overview is given by table 3.2, where the reviewed references are sorted in alphabetic order.

Intra-channel Trust Transfer from Entity to Entity

In a special case, the transfer refers to consumer trust in one entity being moved to another related entity in the same channel which the work of Lin et al. (2011) referred to. These types of trust transfer are grouped together with the adapted term of “intra-channel trust transfer”. Most of them are in the context of e-commerce (and the rest: classic product marketing), for example offline to offline (Perk & Halliday, 2003) and online to online (Stewart, 2003, 2006). In the latter case, Kollock (1999); Riegelsberger and Sasse (2001) named reputation-sharing mechanism as a fundamental trust transfer way. E.g. the online auctioneer platform Ebay is based on an unconscious process of trust transfer which is derived from trust in other participant's honest rating of one individual. The assumed initial trust leads to trust in the general reputation rating system on the platform of Ebay and thus is transferred to the individual (Komiak, Komiak, & Imhof, 2008).

Stewart found out that trust is transferred from hyperlinked text on similar web pages of orga­nizations to unfamiliar business-to-consumer websites with the known hypertext (Stewart, 2003). As a result, trust is transferred across hypertext links based on the observed, perceived interaction and comparability, sameness of the linked organizations. The fact that hyperlink affordance affects trust in the target site in the online-to-online trust transfer process has also been confirmed by K. C. Lee, Lee, and Hwang (2014). Additionally, in the area of social media, a parallel concept has been investigated by Pentina et al. (2013) who found out that similarity of “self-Twitter” personality (cf. “hyperlink”) strengthens the transferred trust towards the platform of Twitter.

Equivalently, trust in one known online brand can be transferred to an unknown online brand by associating itself with the familiar one so that the consumer trust and purchase intention of the unknown brand can be improved (Ballester & Espallardo, 2008). Similarly, the brand marketing works in the same way by using the trust transfer process from one product to another. When one brand is well-known and has a good reputation, the corporation can take the advantage of their existing well-reputed products to promote other unknown product with the same brand. The “hyperlink” among the products can be established and more information can be provided for the new product based on the available verified facts. Moreover, potential risks of launching a brand new product can be reduced (Keller, 1993; Tulin, 1998).

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Figure 3.2.: An illustration of trust transfer model with a mediator.

(Left: model discussed in section trust transfer mechanism (3.1.2); Right: transfer inference algorithm of TidalTrust with direct trust transfer TT from A to B (TTab ) as well as B to C (TTBC) following with a possible computable trust value of A to C (TTac ).)

The first mentioned type of transfer within the offline channel refers to the general branding strategy (Perk & Halliday, 2003). To give an instance, a consumer who trusts the product of brand A purchased in one affiliate would most likely trust a newly-released product of brand A in another retail store. One would consider McDonald's as a trustworthy consuming place everywhere on the earth by using brand trust. Another practical example of “brand extension” is to be found in the work of Aaker and Keller (1999). More information is explained in section

7.1. The authors evaluated the effectiveness of the trust-transfer process from the established brand names to their new entered products or services. Extension products could be Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts[6]; Brand extension service could be car-sharing services such as DriveNow (BMW und Sixt)[7], car2go (Daimler and Europcar)[8] or Multicity (PSA Peugeot Citroen mit DB Rent)[9]. Trust of the most Business-to-Consumer car-sharing services is based on and established by the brand and reputation of the service providers which is mostly an automotive OEM or a well-known car rental company (Bert et al., 2016).

Other Forms of Trust Transfer from Entity to Entity Another forms of trust transfer from entity to entity has been researched more frequently according to Buntain and Golbeck (2015). The main context in this sub-category is the interpersonal or social network.

Trust in a known third party serves as an important basis for trust in an unknown party (Coleman, 1990). Strub and Priest (1976) and Uzzi (1996) discussed interpersonal trustworthiness based on how desiring drug users tried to expand their social networks to procure drugs. The latter work confirmed previous findings showing that individuals arranged their business built on third-party recommendations as a mediator. To be more precise, the model presents a trust transfer from an individual entity of known targets to another individual entity of unknown targets with a trust broker.

Correspondingly, Xing, Cui, and Xu (2010), Y. Sun, Luo, and Sajal (2002) and Marchesini and Smith (2005) proposed mathematical and computational models for this kind of calculation. The relevant model is illustrated in figure 3.2 where A stands for a trustor as a person, B as a me­diator person connecting A and C, C as a trustee. Furthermore, the work of Dong et al. (2007) presents a basic model with formally described trust transfer formulae based on trust policies, too. The necessary constraints for mentioned trust transfer between actors in distributed decentralized networks were suggested, e.g. social network.

In the same way, Kimery and McCord (2002) aimed to apply the above mentioned trust model in the context of e-shopping by connecting a third-party assurance seal. Yet, the expected positive relationship between third-party assurance and customers’ trust in an unfamiliar e-retailer is not confirmed. Nonetheless, the results from Jiang, Jones, and Javie (2008) supported the same kind of hypothesis that the perception of third-party certificates is related to e-shoppers’ intensity of seal exposure as well as the perceived importance of the trust factors.

In the area of social media, Pentina et al. (2013) confirmed the robustness on the transference of trust from the social-media platform - Twitter to users’ trust and patronage intention towards the brands using so called “social media marketing”. The author also investigated on the potential culture-based differences. By the same principles with Twitter-branding as an eWOM (electronic word-of-mouth) referral, K. Kim and Prabhakar (2000) have predicted that a person with strong personal ties could positively affect the effect of his word-of-mouth referral and establish high-level initial trust in the field of e-commerce. This is a part of “influencer marketing” (Brown & Reingen, 1987).

Trust Transfer from Entity to Context

The least research has been found in this categorization of trust transfer from entity to context whereas the controversial (context to entity) theory frequently appeared. The context is unusual in comparison to the rest of the study. Only one literature piece was found. Y.-K. Lee et al. (2014) considered, based on trust transfer theory, the impact of attitude towards a mega event on it towards the hosting country. With the example of Shanghai Expo Mega event, the authors showed that the attitude towards a mega event influences the attitude towards the event-hosting country and both aspects have a positive impact on visitors’ intentions to revisit China.

3.I.3.2. Trust Transfer from a Context

Trust transfer from a context has been studied much more than the previous category. In this work, the related literature is divided into three major parts: (i) Institutional-factors-based trust transfer from a context; (ii) Trust transfer from context to entity; (iii) Interchannel trust transfer from context to context. In the third part, different sub-situations are taken into consideration and are respectively synthesized. An overview of related works for trust transfer from a context can be found in table 3.3 where the most relevant literature works are listed in afore-sorted categories.

Main Objects and Advantages

According to the related literature, trust transfer across contexts both online and offline has several advantages. Exchange of reputation and trust between domains of context can be a valuable resource for both users and existing contexts such as virtual communities (Grinshpoun, Gal-Oz, Meisels, & Gudes, 2009). The main advantages are listed as following:

- The transference process of trust could reduce complexity in management of trust rela­tionships by simplified leverage process of reputation data from multiple contexts (Neisse, Wegdam, & van Sinderen, 2006). This is especially important when the users maintain dif­ferent active communities or channels in varied contexts for the reason that the received evaluations may differ (Grinshpoun et al., 2009). Also in order to produce more accurate recommendations to improve the whole process (Neisse, Wegdam, van Sinderen, & Lenzini, 2007), the leverage process can be a main advantage.
- Trust transference provides protection against changes of identity and first time offenders in order to enhance trust establishment (Rehak, Gregor, Pechoucek, & Bradshaw, 2006; Rehak & Pechoucek, 2007).


[1]World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2015









[9]I also want to thank Rachel Botsman for her analogue suggestion as valuable input.

[1] (accessed on 09.11.2016)

[2] (accessed on 08.11.2016)

[3]The results on the previous five pages have been set as potential literature, i.e. 50 publications, later results do not match the trust transfer term in this related context any more.

[4]With six results found.

[5]Only the first page results, i.e. 10 publications were in range according to the defined research boundary.

[6] (accessed on 31.12.2016)

[7] (accessed on 31.12.2016)

[8] (accessed on 31.12.2016)

[9] (accessed on 31.12.2016)

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Trust Transfer in Sharing Economy
A Survey-Based Approach
University Karlsruhe (TH)  (Institut für Informationswirtschaft und Marketing (IISM))
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veröffentlicht unter anderem auch auf JuMS (Junior management of Science)
Trust transfer, Sharing economy, trust
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Jingyi Zhang (Author), 2017, Trust Transfer in Sharing Economy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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