Personal data: how context shapes consumers’ data sharing with organizations from various sectors


Data – in particular personal data – is becoming a critical asset in more and more industries beyond the Internet sector. Applications based on such data, to improve existing products and processes as well as to create completely new ones, are regarded as a major driver of economic growth. At the same time consumers’ concerns about the proper use of their data by organizations are growing. We conducted a conjoint study, comprising more than 3000 participants, to investigate consumers’ data sharing sensitivities along six dimensions of context and across ten private and public sectors covering the whole economy. We find that nearly all consumers (99.9 % of our sample) want to share personal data with organizations if the benefits and terms suffice their needs. Second, we show that consumers clearly discriminate between organizations from various industry sectors when it comes to their willingness to share their data. Third, we find that context of sharing personal data is more important in the consumers’ decision making than the actual data itself. Further, we provide evidence that the right to be forgotten can significantly increase consumers’ willingness to share their data.

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    Products as automobiles or home appliances getting equipped with sensors that collect usage or environmental data and submit this data to central servers via the Internet.


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We would like to express our gratitude towards the people and organizations who supported this effort, especially Manuel Kohnstamm, Stephan Luiten, and Elmar Krack all of Liberty Global, Inc. as well as Jeroen Hardon of Skim Group and The Boston Consulting Group. Thanks also to Helen Yuanyuan Cao for her advice.

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Correspondence to Bjoern Roeber.

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Responsible Editor: Sarah Spiekermann



Table 9 Table of attributes, levels and explanations of the conjoint analysis

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Roeber, B., Rehse, O., Knorrek, R. et al. Personal data: how context shapes consumers’ data sharing with organizations from various sectors. Electron Markets 25, 95–108 (2015).

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  • Digital identity
  • Personal data
  • Privacy
  • Conjoint
  • Data protection

JEL classification

  • O24