Abstract

Besides matchmaking, the major success factor of service sharing platforms is to build trust in service providers. Therefore, service sharing platforms typically provide a rating system where service consumers can rate service providers, which signals the trustworthiness of service providers. Based on signaling theory, we examine if external trust signals, namely a star rating from another online platform and mutual friends between service providers and service consumers on social networks, can serve as alternative signals to build trust in service providers who have no rating at the service sharing platform yet. Using a laboratory experiment, we find that a star rating from another online platform positively influences trust in service providers, while mutual friends on social networks and the combination of both external trust signals have no significant influence. Furthermore, we find evidence that the combination slightly decreases trust in service providers compared to the sole presence of a star rating from another online platform. In addition, trust in service providers positively influences willingness to pay of service consumers. Consequently, service sharing platforms have to be aware that not every external trust signal increases trust in service providers and ultimately leads to a higher willingness to pay of service consumers.

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