An important consideration is the feasibility of testing different mechanisms in order to arrive at explanations for the effect of team membership on lending behavior. Whether someone who joined more teams, lends more and more often (hypothesis 1), can be tested, but this does not help any further in explaining the presumed relationship. The dataset does not suffice for tests for all mechanisms.
To study the effect of mechanism (b), solicitation, other data must be collected. E.g. data describing the amount of interaction on the message board. These data could serve as a proxy for the amount of solicitations.
To study the effects of mechanism (e), reputation, data describing the loans counted towards teams must be gathered. These data could describe the lender’s reputation. Instrumental application of lending activity to exemplify one’s endorsement of specific values to others could be studied qualitatively through studying the meanings of team names.
To study the effect of mechanism (f), psychological benefits, qualitative research could be done towards the contents of communication on team message boards. Punishment for inactivity within teams and reinforced norms could serve as ‘sensitizing concepts’ (Hoonaard, 1997).
None of the above effects of mechanisms can be studied using the data in Kiva.org’s public database.
Mechanism (h), efficacy, can be studied using the data in Kiva.org’s public database. The modelling effect described under this mechanism (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011) is hypothesized (hypothesis 2) to (partly) explain the relationship expected with hypothesis 1. This thesis, therefore, aims on studying both the general relationship of philanthropic behavior with social structures and the specific explanation mechanism (h) can offer for this hypothesized relationship. The research question is therefore modified, making testing the modelling effect the ultimate goal of this study. Data regarding the behavior of team captains and team members are studied to achieve this goal.