Managing consumer privacy concerns and defensive behaviours in the digital marketplace

Publication Name

European Journal of Marketing


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine privacy issues in the e-commerce context from a power-responsibility equilibrium theory (PRE) perspective. Design/methodology/approach: The data was collected using an online survey (n = 335) from online shopping consumers. This study used partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) techniques to empirically examine the proposed relationships. Findings: A lack of corporate privacy responsibility and regulatory protection can deprive consumers of privacy empowerment and damage consumer trust to trigger privacy concerns and subsequent defensive responses. Also, the fsQCA revealed five causal configurations to explain high consumer defensive behaviours. Research limitations/implications: This study identifies the importance of PRE theory in the privacy context. Consumer privacy concerns, privacy empowerment and trust are established as strong mediators between corporate/regulatory privacy protection efforts and consumer backlash. The application of fsQCA verified that consumer privacy behaviour can be better explained by different configurations of the same causal antecedents. Practical implications: The findings highlight the importance of increasing trust and privacy empowerment as mechanisms to manage privacy concerns and consumer backlash through responsible organisational and regulatory privacy protections. The importance of balancing power and responsibility dynamics for maintaining a healthy information exchange environment is identified. Originality/value: This study extends the PRE framework of privacy to include corporate privacy responsibility, privacy empowerment and trust. This is one of the first studies to explore both antecedents and outcomes of privacy empowerment. Also, the application of complexity theory and fsQCA to explain consumers’ defensive responses is novel to the literature.

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