Building trust in english and german for collaborative consumption: A comparative case study of the language and content used by collaborators on Airbnb

2019-04-09T11:02:15Z (GMT) by Alex Zarifis Richard Ingham
Collaborative consumption (CC) and the sharing economy have disrupted several sectors of the economy with organizations like Airbnb and Uber. This global phenomenon and its global champions use similar models and platforms across several countries. In the globalized world we live in, where the platforms such as the internet and the e-commerce organizations are international, it is easy to overlook the differences that still exist in language. The role of trust in e-commerce has been explored and researched extensively and has now matured (Zarifis et al., 2014). There are models of how the consumer trusts online that have been extensively validated in several contexts. Some new contexts require extensions to the models so that they explain the new environment better. The role of the language has not been evaluated thoroughly from a linguistic perspective in information systems. Evidence from the area of linguistics supports that languages such as English and German shape the way a message is coded and decoded. There are standard language norms and culture specific use (Kohn and Hoffstaedter 2017). It is therefore useful to evaluate how trust is built in these two languages and if there are differences. As the person wanting to pay for the use of a room will ultimately rent it from an individual and not a company with a recognized brand and established long term presence, the risk and potential for distrust increases. For example, the individual’s privacy is at risk while using a stranger’s room. Firstly, the privacy in the physical world, visually and acoustically, and secondly the privacy of personal information in the digital world. Despite the effort of a platform such as Airbnb to fill this void the role of trust is nevertheless increased. The person offering the property must fill the remaining void of trust and reduce the risk by how they communicate information about what they are offering and themselves. The text in the profile of those offering their properties in England in English, and in Germany in German, were compared. To give the analysis validity the comparison was made on the same organization, Airbnb. The findings indicate that language has a limited influence and the platform norms and habits are the biggest influence.