Denise Anthony, University of Michigan

Disrupting Information Regimes: New technologies/Big Data and the Institutional governance of information
Denise Anthony


Winter 2020
Lecture Time: 
Friday, April 17, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business


Abstract: I offer an institutional theory of information governance consisting of a series of propositions specifying the conditions under which new information technologies and the associated Big Data they utilize will cause disruptive change within an organizational field. I argue that the presumed key role of new digital technologies in disruptive change that is the source of so much hype and hand wringing is wrong. Mistakenly, the focus (not to mention the hype and handwringing) centers on the characteristics of the data and the features of the technology.
My argument is instead that it is the social institutions within the organizational field in which the data and technologies are embedded that mediate whether and how any specific characteristic or feature is considered to be meaningful or legitimate, as well as who has responsibility for and authority over it and its consequences. It is the potential for and nature of institutional disruption in these factors related to uncertainty that determines the impact and consequences of big data and technology.
Thus, the key to understanding the relationship between new technologies and disruptive change is first, to explain how new information technologies and data are embedded in and mediated by institutions that govern uncertainty, and second, to specify the conditions under which institutional regimes governing uncertainty may be disrupted by new technologies and data.
In this paper I explain the institutional mechanisms governing information and uncertainty, and identify general propositions for when, where and how new technologies may disrupt these information regimes, and with what consequences. I consider examples from various organizational fields and industries but provide specific attention to healthcare.
Recognizing information regimes as responsible for mediating technological change, rather than data or technology per se, allows us to determine not only the nature and extent of change possible, but also to address where, when and with what consequences disruptions of information regimes will have significant social impact within and across organizational fields.

Recording & Additional Notes

Denise Anthony, Ph.D., a sociologist, is Professor of Health Management & Policy in the School of Public Health, and in the Department of Sociology (by courtesy), at the University of Michigan.
Professor Anthony’s work explores issues of cooperation, trust and privacy in a variety of settings, from health care delivery to micro-credit borrowing groups to online groups such as Wikipedia and She is also interested in the role of organizations and institutions in health care delivery. Her current work examines the use of information technology in health care, including effects on quality, on the organization of health care, as well as the implications for the privacy and security of protected health information. Her multi-disciplinary research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and others, and published in sociology as well as in health policy and computer science journals, including among others the American Sociological Review, Social Science and Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Health Affairs, and IEEE Pervasive Computing.
Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2018, she was Professor and past-Chair (2007-11) in the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine, and a faculty affiliate at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. From 2014-17 she served as Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives at Dartmouth.

Reading List

Campos-Castillo, Celeste, Denise Anthony. 2019. “Situated Trust in a Physician: Patient Health Characteristics & Trust in Physician Confidentiality.” The Sociological Quarterly.
Anthony, Denise, Celeste Campos-Castillo, Paulina Lim*. 2018. “Who isn’t using patient portals and why? Evidence and Implications from a national sample of U.S. adults.” Health Affairs. 37(12): 1948-54.
Stablein, Timothy, Keith J. Loud, Christopher DiCapua*, Denise L. Anthony. 2018. “The Catch to Confidentiality: The use of Electronic Health Records in Adolescent Health Care.” Journal of Adolescent Health. 62: 577–582.
Anthony, Denise L., Celeste Campos-Castillo, Christine Horne. 2017. “Toward a Sociology of Privacy.” Annual Review of Sociology 43: 249-269.
Kuwabara, Ko, Denise L. Anthony, Christine Horne. 2017. “In the Shade of a Forest: Status, Reputation, and Ambiguity in an Online Microcredit Market." Social Science Research 64:96-118.
Anthony, Denise L. and Timothy Stablein. 2016. “Privacy in Practice: Professional discourse about information control in health care.” Journal of Health Organizations and Management 30(2): 207 – 226.
Davis, Matthew A.*, Denise L. Anthony, Scott D. Pauls. 2015. “Seeking and receiving social support on Facebook for surgery.” Social Science and Medicine 131:40 – 47.