Trust & Best Practices

After reading Raphael’s and Audrey’s posts references Lucas’s¹ article, I wanted to read it for myself. Raphael definitely pointed out the importance of getting rid of factionalism and “instead implicitly encouraging the propagation of knowledge and skills to any and all inPodcasting-Best-Practices-Sharedividuals and groups within the organization that can make use of them”. Audrey spoke of social capital and the “importance of trust and the reputation of knowledge providers and recipients”. Once I read the article, these all made sense but (like always…) I thought back to my previous experience.

The article talks a lot about trust and how trust in an organization by its people leads to knowledge sharing. There are 4 aspects of trust Lucas talks about there must be:

  1. an element of uncertainty
  2. an expectation of some specific outcome
  3. the trusting party’s perception that the trustee is motivated to behave as expected
  4. unstated motives by both parties for meeting the other’s expectations

Once I read these, I thought about all of the group projects, both at work and in school, I have done. I have ALWAYS had an issue with trust other’s to complete there parts to my satisfaction, whether it was because I have high expectations and don’t trust the other Trust-tool3.pngparties to meet them (aspect 1) or I don’t think we have the same motivations and goals (aspects 2, 3, & 4). Reading in a scholarly article about how trust in an organization leads to  “increased knowledge transfer” and “full disclosure” made me realize how much I need to work on my trust issues. I need to trust that we, as a group, as working towards the same outcome and that our motives, while different, still mean that we will meet each others expectations. I really enjoyed reading my classmates views and then reading the article and coming to my own conclusions.

The next article speaks specifically about best practice. I had a difficult time Szulanski² primarily because it was a dry read to me. I did quite get all the minutiae of the paper but I did like the concept of ‘transfer of best practices’. I saw this a lot at the call center I worked at. We had multiple different departments and multiple different sites. If the site thumb.phpin Tampa had success with something, our site was then forced to do it. The problem with this, that Szulanski addresses, is that not every ‘best practices’ works the same with different groups of people. Szulanski talks about the ‘NIH syndrome’ or the ‘not invented here syndrome’ and it may seem laughable but it is really really real. When you create a workflow or guideline or best practice, you have stake in the game (or a horse in the race to use a work related metaphor). Having an outside force (even if it’s within your organization) tell you ‘someone else did it this way and it worked so therefore it must work for you and you’ll be punished if you don’t do it this way’ just plain sucks. It’s almost counterproductive. Szulanski also mentions ‘arduous relationships’ speaking about the tacit knowledge that comes attached to best practices that may not be known outside of that department therefore, when the successful best practice from one department is shared with others, it may not work.

The last article I read discussed electronic networks of practice. Wasko and Faraj³ talk about how, with the “advance in computer mediated communications, networks of practice are able to extend their reach using technolog[y]”. I never realized I was a part of an electronic network of practice until I read this. I am a part of many listservs through mybest-practices membership in the ALA, SLA, and SAA. The most important one to mention here I think is the one called ‘Lone Arrangers’, a listserv “geared specifically towards those … working in small or solo repositories” (Source). People e-mail the listserv to ask questions about best practices that they may not know but others do and knowledge is shared readily. I think our profession is hopefully more happy to share knowledge due to what we do for a living but I can understand being reluctant to share as well due to not feeling knowledgeable enough or not wanting someone to take your ideas and pass them off as your own.

I really liked the readings this week and can’t wait for my next post!

Words: 729

Words I Had to Look Up

Trust: “At its core, trust in the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party, and it is a function of access to information either through direct or indirect interactions”¹.

Best Practice: A best practice is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. A commitment to using the best practices in any field is a commitment to using all the knowledge and technology at one’s disposal to ensure success (Source).


¹ Lucas, L. M. (2005). The impact of trust and reputation on the transfer of
best practices. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(4):87–101.

² Szulanski, G. (1996). Exploring internal stickiness: Impediments to the
transfer of best practice within the firm. Strategic Management Journal,

³ Wasko, M. M. and Faraj, S. (2005). Why should I share? examining social
capital and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice.
MIS Quarterly, 29(1):35–57.


11 thoughts on “Trust & Best Practices

  1. First, I totally agree about working in a group (especially group assignments in classes). I have a hard time trusting other people in the group (though I also have a hard time trusting myself in a group).
    Second, I work in a public library system with 20 different branches and what works in one branch does not necessarily work in another. I work in a smaller branch in a poor part of the city and their needs are way different from another branch located in the nicer part of town. Their are policies that apply to everybody, but the branches have a certain amount of leeway to do what they need to do.
    Third, I haven’t read any of these articles yet, but the articles I have been reading lately deal with social media and social networks. When you mention electronic networks of practice, you talked about email specifically. Could you apply electronic networks of practice to something like facebook? I’m thinking of a group I am a part of on facebook (ALA Think Tank).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That section about trust in group projects spoke to me as well.

      I suspect it’s an artifact of the environments in which such things often take place: groups of relative strangers arbitrarily placed together for a medium-term task which any of them may or may not actually be invested in. It’s an easy opportunity for laziness to rise to the surface, especially with the presence of an individual willing to go beyond what is required of them.

      In other words, it’s healthy to be cautious in such situations, as long as we’re able to recognize that it’s conditional rather than absolute. When working with other motivated people, especially if they’re known entities (that is to say, professional or academic peers in the true sense), we can generally either trust them to do their part, or will know ahead of time if they won’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true! So, in part, the instructor is part of the reason there is little trust among others when it comes to group work in the classroom. Instructors who require group work (which is important) need to get creative and come up with new designs that foster this kind of trust. There is literature on this — pedagogy of group work — but it’s surely under-read


    1. Hey, our twitter discussions would probably be considered that. 🙂 I also think trust plays an important role in those electronic bulleting boards. And it makes me think of my blog post about the Challenger failure and the role of trust (whether for good or bad) had in that situation. I love all these connections 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So will be the peer review work — this is another kind of group work but one that requires a different accounting of responsibility instead of one that punishes the group for the least effort of one person in that group.


  2. Pingback: Extra-Organizational Knowledge Sharing – rhmaxsonlis658

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