The Mediating Effects of Trustworthiness on Social‑Cognitive Factors and Knowledge Sharing in a Large Professional Service Firm


  • Max Evans
  • Anthony Wensley
  • Ilja Frissen


Keywords: mediating effects of trust, knowledge sharing in a large professional service firm


Abstract: This paper extends the findings of a large empirical study of organizational information and knowledge sharing that examined the interplay of several notable social and cognitive factors, including trust, shared language, shared vision, tie strength, homophily, and relationship length. Initial data analysis examined the direct, relative, and collective effects of these social and cognitive factors on organizational knowledge sharing factors (Evans, 2012). The results of this analysis demonstrated that co‑worker trust influences, in a statistically significant way, each factor used to operationalize organizational knowledge sharing, namely: willingness to share knowledge, willingness to use knowledge, and perceived receipt of useful information/knowledge (Evans, 2013). This study presents the results of a secondary data analysis, which examines whether perceived trustworthiness in co‑workers acts as a mediating variable between the previously mentioned social‑cognitive variables and knowledge sharing factors. Data were collected from 275 knowledge workers (legal professionals and paralegals) engaged in shared legal project work, at one of Canadas largest multijurisdictional law firms. The nature of their work requires a significant reliance on co‑workers, across offices nationwide, for both explicit and tacit information and knowledge. The nature of projects allows respondents to objectively evaluate the outcomes, gaining a better sense of the perceived effects of knowledge shared. A method put forward by Baron and Kenny (1986), which includes hierarchical multiple regression analysis, was used to test for the mediating effects of perceived co‑worker trustworthiness. The results of the study showed that the relationship between shared language and shared vision on information and knowledge sharing is mediated through perceived trustworthiness. Moreover, this mediation is subject to the nature of the relationship between co‑workers. For shared language, the role of co‑worker relationship is still more nuanced as perceived trustworthiness was found to have a mediating effect between shared language and knowledge sharing in relationships between co‑workers with whom they worked well together on projects only. There is no apparent mediation of trust for shared language in negative co‑worker relationships, which demonstrates one of the few interesting effects found to be dependent on the nature of the co‑worker relationship.



1 Oct 2015