Trust as the key ingredient

Posted on November 25, 2013  /  0 Comments

Even when one disagrees with a speaker, one can learn from the engagement. I enjoyed myself at the talk given by Futurist Gerd Leonhard at ITU Telecom World, partly because I was actively engaging his stream of consciousness by tweeting.

One thing I agreed fully with was his emphasis on trust: As the tweet said: “If you are in ICT Business & don’t have trust, you will be out of business in 5 yrs. Futurist at #ituworld”

This caused me to dig through some old writing. Here is what wrote back in 1999 in a UNESCO publication:

The overall environment of a society has an impact on how its members approach electronic commerce. Fukuyama talks of high and low-trust societies and generally correlates low-trust societies will low-growth societies. While there are problems with parts of his analysis, in general it is correct to state that commercial transactions in relatively poor countries such as Sri Lanka are not marked by high degrees of trust. While trust exists in family and similar settings, it is low in organizational and commercial settings.

Trust allows transactions to take place with lower transaction costs because the parties allow consensual surveillance or proceed with less information. When the starting point is low trust, there is a much greater likelihood that the technological system through which the transactions occur will be designed to coercively extract information, which if known to the other party, leads to mistrust, which in turn could lead to greater reliance on actions hostile to trust-building in countries such as Sri Lanka. This vicious downward spiral is not counteracted by the experience of users in effectively functioning in virtual environments such as telephone networks.

It is good that one can look at things written 15 years ago, and not cringe.

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