The Importance of Trust in Software Engineers’ Assessment and Choice of Information Sources

Morten Hertzum

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Engineers such as systems developers get most of their information from colleagues and internal reports. In the literature on engineers’ information-seeking practices the generally agreed-upon explanation of this preference for close-by, internal information sources is that engineers follow a principle of least effort by choosing their information sources on the basis of ease of access rather than quality of contents. This study argues that engineers’ preference for internal sources such as their colleagues is just as much a preference for sources with a known or easily determinable trustworthiness as it is a preference for information that is easily accessible. Trust is of central importance because quality is a perceived property and, thus, assessing the quality of an information source is essentially a matter of establishing to what extent one is willing to place trust in it. This can be done with greater ease and precision for familiar sources. A field study of the meetings in a software design project shows that in discussing and selecting information sources the software engineers devote significantly more attention to quality-related factors than to cost-related factors. It is also normal conversational practice at the meetings to accompany the mentioning of information sources that may be unknown to some project participants by information that puts them in context. Systems for managing knowledge and sharing expertise must recognise these rich means of forming a perception of the credibility of individual pieces of information.
TidsskriftInformation and Organization
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1-18
StatusUdgivet - 2002
Udgivet eksterntJa

Citer dette