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Handbook of Trust Research

Edited by Reinhard Bachmann and Akbar Zaheer

The Handbook of Trust Research presents a timely and comprehensive account of the most important work undertaken in this lively and emerging field over the past ten to fifteen years. Presenting a broad range of approaches to issues on trust, the Handbook features 22 articles from a variety of disciplines on the study of trust in both organizational and societal contexts. With contributions from some of the most eminent names in the field of trust research, this international collaboration is an imaginative and informative reference tool to aid research in this engaging area for years to come.
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Chapter 10: Trust, Codification and Epistemic Communities: Implementing an Expert System in the French Steel Industry

Richard Arena, Nathalie Lazaric and Edward Lorenz


10 Trust, codification and epistemic communities: implementing an expert system in the French steel industry Richard Arena, Nathalie Lazaric and Edward Lorenz Introduction The aim of this chapter is to examine the relation between trust and knowledge codification in the context of the implementation of an expert system in the French steel company, Usinor. The Sachem (Système d’Aide à la Conduite des Hauts Furneaux en Marche) expert system project, which was designed to improve blast furnace control, was initiated by Usinor in the 1980s as part of a larger programme of knowledge codification and centralization. One of the objectives was to preserve knowledge and practices the company felt might face extinction during a period of massive layoffs that threatened to disrupt the traditional knowledge transfer patterns which had hitherto been carried out primarily via an apprenticeship system.1 At first glance, trust might seem largely irrelevant to the development of an expert system. Such systems, after all, involve the use of information technology by ‘knowledge engineers’ to transform largely tacit ‘know-how’ into a codified format that can subsequently be used as an aid in decision-making. The technical nature of such projects might suggest that they are largely neutral relative to problems of opportunism and trust. We shall argue that trust was central to implementation of an expert system in the steel industry for three principal reasons that the project shared with most major efforts to codify and centralize knowledge in organizational settings: uncertain impact on...

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