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Why reputation is key to collaboration

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Why reputation is key to collaboration

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Over the past year or so there has been a growth in the number of services aiming to provide and verify the trustworthiness of participants in the sharing economy.

The notion is that we generally cooperate more with those we trust, and therefore signalling the trustworthiness of an individual is crucially important to the wellbeing of the platform.

A recent study has set out to explore the extent to which trust and reputation underpins the kind of cooperation we see inside our organizations.

The researchers conducted a number of experiments to test how our knowledge of someones reputation and their social network influences how we cooperate with them.

In traditional contexts, our knowledge of other peoples reputations tends to be limited to those people we have strong relationships with.

The study suggests however that if we can extend knowledge of reputation much further, as the sharing economy services aim to do, so that it is transparent and common knowledge to everyone, the amount of collaboration goes up significantly.

What’s more, the network tends to become much more interconnected and vibrant too, thus enhancing the kind of thought diversity so many organizations strive for.

Combining trust with social connections

Interestingly, when transparency over reputation was combined with knowledge over someones social connectivity, this saw collaboration levels boosted even further.

So in other words, when people knew both who someone was connected to, and how trustworthy they were, they were much more likely to collaborate with them.  Such communities also typically saw uncooperative members gradually ostracized from the group.

These groups were also noticeably more profitable than their less cooperative peers, with each interaction between members proving roughly 23 percent more beneficial than similar interactions in less collaborative groups.

“We show that knowing others’ past actions is the key driver of a high contribution level. Additionally, knowing who is connected to whom matters for the distribution of contributions: it allows contributors to form their own community,” the authors say.

“This finding suggests that in a world where social information is more available, people may increasingly insulate themselves in communities with other like-minded individuals. In the case we examined, belonging to the community of contributors is highly beneficial,” they continue.

So, just as platforms such as Traity are aiming to make reputation much more transparent and widely accessible within the sharing economy, it would seem that organizations should also strive to do this more easily internally.  At least if they want to foster a collaborative culture that is.

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