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05/12/2021 19:19

How data exchange in company networks influences users’ decisions concerning disclosure

Kathrin Haimerl Abteilung Kommunikation
Universität Passau

    On the Internet, clients’ data is increasingly exchanged between companies. How does this impact users’ decisions to disclose data? This question is investigated by information systems and marketing business researchers at the University of Passau in a project funded by the DFG.

    As soon as internet users make any movement, they deposit data. At first glance, a customer’s individual dataset is of low value – but accumulated, it becomes a valuable resource. Companies exchange this data between themselves for advertising purposes, and are also able to develop new products and services based on these data. Furthermore, many companies have discovered the value of customer data as an additional and lucrative source of profit, and have traded on that data. Given the existence of this trading, it is difficult for an individual customer to gain any overview as to where his/her data will end up.

    Customer data exchange between companies

    “We refer to such practices as ‘Business Network Data Exchange’, abbreviated to BNDE”, stated Professor Jan Schumann, chairholder for marketing and innovation, at the University of Passau. Professor Thomas Widjaja, chairholder for business information systems, added: “This exchange of data is also taking place, increasingly, between companies from traditional fields such as the retail.”

    Passau researchers, working on the DFG project “BNDE – Beyond the Dyad: Effects of Business Network Data Exchange on the Privacy Calculus”, are investigating how these new practices influence the disclosure of customers’ data: “We are interested in the precise moment at which the user makes the corresponding decision”, comments Professor Widjaja. This is an area where established privacy calculus theory is reaching its boundaries. The privacy calculus theory often implicitly assumes that a consumer is confronted with an individual company’s enquiry about disclosing data, in other words in a customer/provider dyad. Perhaps it would be wise to further investigate the risks and benefits, in such a situation. However, if personal data is exchanged and traded on a network of companies, it is difficult for the consumer to assess the consequences and to make a fully rational decision.

    High level of uncertainty in decision-making

    In the case of the “Business Network Data Exchange” (BNDE), customers do indeed disclose the data not only of one company, but of an entire network of companies which are, to some extent, unknown – and consequently they are confronted with a high level of uncertainty. “Spontaneous affective responses to such business models or – to put it simply – one’s gut feeling, could consequently have a significant part to play in making such a decision,” commented Professor Schumann. “In our research, we intend to gain an improved understanding as to precisely how the decision-making process operates, what it is that drives that decision and how such business models need to be configured and communicated in order to enable consumers to make better decisions and also to help companies to configure their BNDE networks such as to meet with customer acceptance”, Thomas Widjaja adds. The German research association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) is funding this project for a period of three years.

    Area of research into digital platform ecosystems at the University of Passau

    This project, conducted by marketing expert Professor Schumann and Information Systems specialist Professor Widjaja, is integrated into a major area of research into digital platform ecosystems and data economy which is establishing itself at the University of Passau: an interdisciplinary team of researchers, among them Professor Schumann and Professor Widjaja, have organised a distinguished keynote series with outstanding talks on the subject of 'Digital Platform Ecosystems (DPE).' In the lectures, some of the internationally most renowned researchers are presenting their latest findings digitally in Zoom webinars.

    More information:
    Explanatory video on the BNDE-project:
    Feature on doctoral candidates on "Research in Bavaria":
    Event website:

    Contact for scientific information:

    University of Passau
    Chair of Marketing and Innovation
    Professor Jan H. Schumann
    Innstraße 27
    94032 Passau

    University of Passau
    Chair of Business Information Systems
    Professor Thomas Widjaja
    Innstraße 27
    94032 Passau

    Criteria of this press release:
    Business and commerce, Journalists, Scientists and scholars
    Economics / business administration, Information technology, Psychology
    transregional, national
    Research projects, Transfer of Science or Research

    Screenshot from the explanatory video on the BNDE-project.

    For download



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