From Contextualizing to Context-Theorizing: Assessing Context Effects in Privacy Research

48 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020 Last revised: 4 Sep 2020

See all articles by Heng Xu

Heng Xu

American University - Kogod School of Business

Nan Zhang

American University - Kogod School of Business

Date Written: September 3, 2020

Abstract

Over the past two decades, behavioral research in privacy has made considerable progress transitioning from acontextual studies to using contextualization as a powerful sensitizing device on illuminating the boundary conditions of privacy theories. Significant challenges and opportunities await, however, on elevating and converging individually contextualized studies to a {\em context-contingent theory} that explicates the mechanisms through which contextual factors influence consumers' privacy concerns and their behavioral reactions. This paper identifies the important barriers occasioned by this lack of context-theorizing on the generalizability of privacy research findings, and argues for accelerating the transition from the contextualization of individual research studies to an integrative understanding of context effects on privacy concerns. It also takes a first step towards this goal by providing a conceptual framework and the associated methodological instantiation for assessing how context-oriented nuances influence privacy concerns. Empirical evidence demonstrates the value of the framework as a diagnostic device guiding the selection of contextual contingencies in future research, so as to advance the pace of convergence towards context-contingent theories in information privacy.

Keywords: Information Privacy, Context, Behavioral Research Methods

JEL Classification: M00

Suggested Citation

Xu, Heng and Zhang, Nan, From Contextualizing to Context-Theorizing: Assessing Context Effects in Privacy Research (September 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3624056

Heng Xu (Contact Author)

American University - Kogod School of Business

4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20816-8044
United States

Nan Zhang

American University - Kogod School of Business ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20816-8044
United States

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