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Definitions of trust typically refer to a situation characterised by the following aspects: One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee); the situation is directed to the future ( Wikipedia)


Trust plays an important role in the sharing and use of knowledge. If people believe they will benefit from sharing their knowledge — either directly or indirectly — they are more likely to share. The use to which people put the knowledge of others often depends on whether they know and trust the source of the knowledge. For example, people are more likely to believe and use the equation e = mc2 knowing that it came from a renowned physicist rather than from a newly employed intern. This is an example of why KM efforts that focus primarily on technology are not always sufficient. Studies show that, more frequently than not, people will contact someone they know before they search the corporate database or data warehouse. Technology is an important enabler to the success of KM. But people make or break it.


A high level of trust creates a safer environment for knowledge sharing!

There are two major types of trust:

  • personal trust
  • knowledge or topical trust (trust in another person's skills and knowledge)

One might not trust a co-worker on a personal level, but still might trust in his skills and knowledge - trust his professional judgment. However, personal and knowledge trust are usually related and most people prefer to work with those about whom they fell positive about.

If the trust level is high, people feel that:

  • sharing their knowledge is safe and will not have negative consequences,
  • there is some reciprocal value (either immediately or at some point in future) that they get back for sharing their knowledge

Related articles


Knowledge sharing culture

Organizational culture