Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Social Network Sites (SNSs) rely exclusively on user-generated content to offer engaging and rewarding experience to its members. As a result, stimulating user communication and self-disclosure is vital for the sustainability of SNSs. However, considering that the SNS users are increasingly culturally diverse, motivating this audience to self-disclose requires understanding of their cultural intricacies. Yet existing research offers only limited insights into the role of culture behind the motivation of SNS users to self-disclose. Building on the privacy calculus framework, this study explores the role of two cultural dimensions – individualism and uncertainty avoidance – in self-disclosure decisions of SNS users. Survey responses of US and German Facebook members are used as the basis for our analysis. Structural equation modeling and multi-group analysis results reveal the distinct role of culture in the cognitive patterns of SNS users. The authors find that trusting beliefs play a key role in the self-disclosure decisions of users from individualistic cultures. At the same time, uncertainty avoidance determines the impact of privacy concerns. This paper contributes to the theory by rejecting the universal nature of privacy calculus processes. The findings provide for an array of managerial implications for SNS providers as they strive to encourage content creation and sharing by their heterogeneous members.