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Abstract

Previous feedback system research in a variety of contexts has focused on the impact that ratings (as proxies for quality) have on a variety of social and economic outcomes with equivocal findings. These mixed findings may be partially due to noise (factors not related to quality) embedded in aggregated or average positive and negative ratings. One significant source of ratings noise may come from culturally diverse raters’ issuing ratings in virtual environments. Culture impacts how groups of individuals are socialized to behave and think, which may result in members’ having different attitudes towards publicly downgrading (negative ratings) or praising (positive ratings) other members in the feedback system. In this paper, I investigate how culture influences rating practices specifically in public electronic knowledge sharing communities. Using a cross-nested hierarchical linear model, I demonstrate empirically that cultural differences at the community, occupation, and national levels interact in unique ways to increase or decrease an individual’s propensity to give and receive a positive or a negative rating. My study contributes to the literature on rating systems along with having practical ramifications for the designers of feedback systems.

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