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Information Privacy Concerns, Procedural Fairness, and Impersonal Trust: An Empirical Investigation


  • Mary J. Culnan

    (School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057-1008)

  • Pamela K. Armstrong

    (School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057-1008)


This research addresses the tensions that arise between the collection and use of personal information that people provide in the course of most consumer transactions, and privacy. In today's electronic world, the competitive strategies of successful firms increasingly depend on vast amounts of customer data. Ironically, the same information practices that provide value to organizations also raise privacy concerns for individuals. This study hypothesized that organizations can address these privacy concerns and gain business advantage through customer retention by observing procedural fairness: customers will be willing to disclose personal information and have that information subsequently used to create consumer profiles for business use when there are fair procedures in place to protect individual privacy. Because customer relationships are characterized by social distance, customers must depend on strangers to act on their behalf. Procedural fairness serves as an intermediary to build trust when interchangeable organizational agents exercise considerable delegated power on behalf of customers who cannot specify or constrain their behavior. Our hypothesis was supported as we found that when customers are explicitly told that fair information practices are employed, privacy concerns do not distinguish consumers who are willing to be profiled from those who are unwilling to have their personal information used in this way.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary J. Culnan & Pamela K. Armstrong, 1999. "Information Privacy Concerns, Procedural Fairness, and Impersonal Trust: An Empirical Investigation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(1), pages 104-115, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:10:y:1999:i:1:p:104-115

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    2. Morlok, Tina & Matt, Christian & Hess, Thomas, 2017. "Privatheitsforschung in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften: Entwicklung, Stand und Perspektiven," Working Papers 1/2017, University of Munich, Munich School of Management, Institute for Information Systems and New Media.
    3. Darrell Carpenter & Alexander McLeod & Chelsea Hicks & Michele Maasberg, 0. "Privacy and biometrics: An empirical examination of employee concerns," Information Systems Frontiers, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-20.
    4. repec:spr:gjofsm:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40171-017-0173-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:joinma:v:39:y:2017:i:c:p:39-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tabitha L. James & Quinton Nottingham & Stephane E. Collignon & Merrill Warkentin & Jennifer L. Ziegelmayer, 2016. "The interpersonal privacy identity (IPI): development of a privacy as control model," Information Technology and Management, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 341-360, December.
    7. Alisa Frik & Luigi Mittone, 2016. "Factors Influencing the Perceived Websites' Privacy Trustworthiness and Users' Purchase Intentions," CEEL Working Papers 1609, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    8. repec:eee:joreco:v:20:y:2013:i:6:p:599-608 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. D'Souza Giles & Phelps Joseph E, 2009. "The Privacy Paradox: The Case of Secondary Disclosure," Review of Marketing Science, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-31, December.
    10. Alessandro Acquisti & Leslie K. John & George Loewenstein, 2013. "What Is Privacy Worth?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 249-274.
    11. Omrani, Nessrine & SouliƩ, Nicolas, 2017. "Culture, Privacy Conception and Privacy Concern: Evidence from Europe before PRISM," 14th ITS Asia-Pacific Regional Conference, Kyoto 2017: Mapping ICT into Transformation for the Next Information Society 168531, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    12. Florencia Marotta-Wurgler, 2016. "Self-Regulation and Competition in Privacy Policies," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(S2), pages 13-39.
    13. repec:eee:touman:v:32:y:2011:i:5:p:987-994 is not listed on IDEAS
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    15. repec:eee:joinma:v:23:y:2009:i:2:p:191-205 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Il-Horn Hann & Kai-Lung Hui & Tom S. Lee & I.P.L. Png, 2003. "The Value of Online Information Privacy: An Empirical Investigation," Industrial Organization 0304001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Apr 2003.
    17. repec:eee:jbrese:v:82:y:2018:i:c:p:103-116 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:spr:infosf:v:20:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10796-016-9667-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. repec:taf:titdxx:v:23:y:2017:i:1:p:127-152 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Krishen, Anjala S. & Raschke, Robyn L. & Close, Angeline G. & Kachroo, Pushkin, 2017. "A power-responsibility equilibrium framework for fairness: Understanding consumers' implicit privacy concerns for location-based services," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 20-29.
    21. Heldman, Christina & Enste, Dominik, 2018. "Trust and privacy: How trust affects individuals' willingness to disclose personal information," IW-Reports 19/2018, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute.


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