Conclusion

Results

The literature study in this study shows four mechanisms that theoretically explain lending behavior in lending teams on Kiva.org. These are solicitation, reputation, psychological benefits and efficacy. Based on this literature study the first hypothesis for this study is that lenders on Kiva.org lend more/more often when they join (more) teams. This hypothesis is tested by measuring the effect of team membership on lending behavior. Analysis shows that team membership does not significantly effect lending frequency. The effect of team membership on lending amount, however, is significantly positive. Lenders lend more by degree of proportion to the memberships they enter.
The mechanism efficiacy includes the modelling effect, that can theoretically explain the relationship between team membership and lending behavior. This effect describes an expected increase in donations when lenders see a lender with higher status donate. This effect was found eligible for testing with the available data. Based on further literature study it is assumed that team members are effected by a team captain’s, being the model with higher status, lending action for up to 24 hours after the lending action. During this period they are hypothesized to be conditioned to lend more/more frequent. This hypothesis is tested. Analysis show that conditioning does not significantly effect lending frequency nor lending amount. There is no evidence showing that team captains effect the lending behavior of team members through donating. This leads to the conclusion that the modelling effect does not explain the effect of team membership on lending behavior.

Discussion

The literature study in this study shows that different mechanisms can explain the relationship between team memberships and lending behavior. This suggest more research is needed to explain lending behavior. In these studies the effects of the different mechanisms should be tested. Research shows that testing for mechanisms with explanatory value is valuable for a better understanding philanthropic behavior. Firstly, because without further explanation offer by theoretical mechanisms, little meaning can be given to relationships between team membership and lending behavior. Secondly, because the results in this study implicate, echoing Bekkers and Wiepking (2011), that always all mechanisms apply.

Absence of an effect of team membership on lending frequency gives reason to assume that a possible effect of mechanism (b), sollicitation, at most expresses itself in a increase of lending amount. Because this means that a lender lends more money to an unchanged number of loans, the effects of this mechanism must be assumed to manifest itself in either focussed sollicitiation, where the amount of loans asked to lend to is smaller than the amount of donation requests, or sollicitation of such general nature that no specific loan is implied. In these two cases alone, can a lender answer sollicitation by increasing the amount he lends. Would the amount of unique loans, to which lending is requested, increase equally with the amount of sollicitations then the lender would be forced to increase his lending frequency to answer the sollicitations. Results imply that the latter does not apply because there is no change in lending frequency due to team membership.

Similarly to mechanism (b), reputation, there is no evidence for increased lending frequency resulting from mechanism (e). The effect of this mechanism is theorized to be an effect of potential recognition for lending by fellow team members, when the lender’s lending action is highlighted on the team’s page. Because the highlighted lending action, for reasons concerning privacy, does not detail the lending amount, it would be rational for a lender to increase his/her lending frequency to increase his/her reputation; the lender would then be highlighted more often. This study shows that the latter is not the case which implicates that lenders do not lend to boost their reputation.

For mechanisme (f), psychological benefits, the same lack of evidence for increased lending frequency resulting from this mechanism applies. Social consequences for lending actions, theorized under this mechanism, are independent of lending amount because lending amount is not public for reasons concerning privacy. To answer to social pressure, only increasing lending frequency is an effective measure. The results of this study therefore imply there is no effect of social pressure. However private psychological benefits can apply to the results. The increase in lending amount is logically known by the lender, which can lead to the decrease of feelings of guilt, lead to a good feeling for acting in line with a social norms or a good feeling for acting in line with a specific (prosocial, altruistic) self-image (Bekkers en Wiepking, 2011).

The modelling effect, that is part of mechanism (h), efficacy, can not be derived from the results of this study. This does not mean there is no modelling effect. Limitations in the design of this study that rule out cumulative modelling effects may have discarded data that contain evidence for a modelling effect. It is recommended to further study this phenomenon by including a cumulative effect of team captains on team member’s lending behavior.

Considering all mechanisms, mechanism (b), sollicitation, and mechanism (f), psychological benefits, best explain the results of this study.

The effect of team membership on lending amount, found in this study, confirms the findings of Liu et al. (2012). The absence of an effect of team membership on lending frequency contradicts the results of Liu et al. (2012), they do find an effect of team membership on lending frequency.

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