The Strength of Trust Over Ties: Investigating the Relationships between Trustworthiness and Tie‑Strength in Effective Knowledge Sharing


  • M. Max Evans
  • Ilja Frissen
  • Chun Wei Choo


Trust, Knowledge sharing, Social Capital, Networks, Tacit knowledge, Knowledge workers


The purpose of this research is to better understand the interaction between notable structural and relational factors, which positively influence organizational knowledge sharing. Specifically, to investigate the effects of multiple dimensions of trust (i.e., competence‑, integrity‑, benevolence‑based perceived trustworthiness) on the relationship between tie‑strength and effective knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing was examined in two ways, first through the knowledge receiver’s perception of how useful the shared knowledge was, and second through their willingness to use that knowledge. Willingness to use was further classified into explicit and tacit forms of knowledge. A total of 275 surveys were collected from legal professionals, working on projects, at one of Canada’s largest law firms. Data were analyzed using linear regression, mediation, and moderator analyses. The study revealed four main findings. The first was that strong ties lead to the receipt of useful knowledge. Second, both competence‑ and integrity‑based trustworthiness strongly mediated the link between strong ties and receipt of useful knowledge. Third, when trust was taken into account, any positive effect of strong ties on the receipt of useful knowledge was removed. Fourth, the mediating effect of competence‑based trustworthiness was of similar magnitude for willingness to use explicit and tacit knowledge. Practical implications suggest organizations should cultivate competence‑ and integrity‑based trustworthiness and develop networks consisting of both weak and strong ties, balancing network density and range.



1 Apr 2019