Denise Anthony, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Disrupting Information Regimes: Big Data and the Institutional governance of uncertainty
Denise Anthony


Winter 2021
Lecture Time: 
Friday, March 26, 2021 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 


Claims that technology is driving organizational and social change are pervasive. These claims are problematic not only because of the inherent determinism, but also because they misdirect our attention from the real sources of change. The focus of deterministic technological arguments (not to mention the accompanying hype or handwringing) centers on technological features (e.g., computing power or availability, device size or mobility) or characteristics of data (e.g., their size and/or speed) as the key drivers of change. Technological features and data characteristics are viewed as producing not only organizational change, but also its consequences, that is, whether the change has positive or negative impact.
I offer an alternative to technological determinism in evaluating new technologies and organizational change. I argue that institutions that govern uncertainty and legitimacy within an organizational field, what I term the information regime, structure whether and how any specific technological characteristic or feature will be consequential for organizational change and the nature of its impact. I propose an institutional theory of information governance consisting of a series of propositions specifying how information regimes establish the conditions in which new information technologies and the associated Big Data they utilize can produce disruptive change within an organizational field. I consider examples from various organizational fields and industries but provide specific attention to healthcare.
Recognizing information regimes as responsible for mediating organizational change, rather than data or technology per se, allows us to understand not only the nature and extent of change possible in the face of changing technologies, but also to evaluate where and when new technologies will and will not disrupt information regimes in ways that impact organizations and organizational fields.

Recording & Additional Notes

Professor Anthony's multi-method research studies the role of information technologies (IT) in healthcare delivery. She examines the effects of technologies like electronic health records (EHRs) and patient portals on care quality, doctor-patient relationships, and privacy, and how IT influences trust in the people, professions, and organizations within healthcare. She is currently interested in how IT affects clinical practice and decision-making, as well as how patients/consumers use IT for their own health.

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Connecticut
M.A., Sociology, University of Connecticut
B.A., Sociology and International Studies, Indiana University of Pennsylvania