'Sorry about your privacy...' The effect of crisis response strategy on Belgian and US consumers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions after a cybersecurity breach.
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The current study investigated the effect of crisis response strategies (diminish strategy, apology and compensation plus sympathy) and culture (Belgium vs. the US) on consumers’ attitudes towards the company (corporate reputation and trust) and behavioral intentions (likeliness to engage in electronic word of mouth) after a cybersecurity breach. This study was conducted because in previous research there seems to be incongruency on what crisis response strategy is the most effective after a crisis in which the organization is responsible. Additionally, the current study begins to fill the research gap that exists on cross-cultural crisis communication research. In this study, a total of 121 Belgian and 108 US consumers participated in an online experiment. The respondents were asked to answer questions after reading a news article about a fictional organization and its crisis response. Results showed no effect of crisis response strategy on consumers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions. There was, however, an effect of culture on corporate reputation and likeliness to engage in electronic word of mouth. Belgian consumers’ attitudes towards corporate reputation were more positive after a cybersecurity breach than US consumers’ attitudes. Additionally, Belgian consumers were more likely to encourage other people online to become a client at the organization involved in the crisis. They were also more likely to write positive things about the organization on social media. Conclusively, based on this study, US consumers seem to react more negatively to a cybersecurity breach with regard to some variables than Belgian consumers, independently of crisis response strategies. The study ends with implications for society and for future research. Future research could, for example, replicate this study with stronger manipulations or different national cultures.
Faculteit der Letteren