Abstract

Due to security and privacy concerns, trust is a vital facilitator of successful business relationships in cloud computing ecosystems. This is especially true when customers obtain adapted services built on third-party cloud services. In this case, customers are no longer interacting with service providers directly. Instead, they rely on mediators and, thus, are dependent on the mediators’ choices and judgement. Hence, we analyze the role of trust transitivity and propagation – the derivation of a certain amount of trust from a trust relationship with a directly known party – between individual customers and mediators as well as service providers in an online experiment. The results reveal no significant evidence for trust transitivity (complete propagation of the level of trust between the actors) in cloud computing trust chains. Rather, individual customers’ trust is propagated between mediators and cloud service providers. This evidence is important for providers, as they could mitigate direct trust issues by providing services indirectly. Further, mediators should be aware that trust and consequently the usage behavior of individual customers can be affected by incidents which are caused by providers. For science, this understanding is vital to further examine and understand the role of trust in cloud adoption and usage.

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