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Interdisciplinary Committee on Organizational Studies - ICOS pres.

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

Denise Anthony University of Michigan

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 handwringing 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.

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