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Social Contagion and Information Technology Diffusion: The Adoption of Electronic Medical Records in U.S. Hospitals


  • Corey M. Angst

    () (Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556)

  • Ritu Agarwal

    () (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742)

  • V. Sambamurthy

    () (Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824)

  • Ken Kelley

    () (Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556)


We use a social contagion lens to study the dynamic, temporal process of the diffusion of electronic medical records in the population of U.S. hospitals. Social contagion acknowledges the mutual influence among organizations within an institutional field and implicates information transmission through direct contact and observation as the mechanisms underlying influence transfer. We propose hypotheses predicting a hospital's likelihood of adopting electronic medical records as a function of its susceptibility to the influence of prior adopters, the infectiousness or potency of influence exerted by adopting hospitals, and its social and spatial proximity to prior adopters. Results obtained by fitting a heterogeneous diffusion model to data from a sample drawn from an annual survey, spanning 1975 to 2005, of almost 4,000 U.S. hospitals suggest that diffusion can be accelerated if specific attention is given to increasing social contagion effects. In particular, with respect to susceptibility to influence, greater hospital size and age are positively related to the likelihood of adoption for nonadopters, whereas younger hospitals are associated with greater infectiousness for adopters. A hospital's "celebrity" status also contributes to its infectiousness. We further find strong effects for social proximity and significant regional effects for spatial proximity and hospital size, suggesting that geographical covariates should be included in diffusion studies. Results also reinforce the importance of theorizing about and including interactions in examinations of social contagion.

Suggested Citation

  • Corey M. Angst & Ritu Agarwal & V. Sambamurthy & Ken Kelley, 2010. "Social Contagion and Information Technology Diffusion: The Adoption of Electronic Medical Records in U.S. Hospitals," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(8), pages 1219-1241, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:56:y:2010:i:8:p:1219-1241

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Davide Secchi & Nicole L. Gullekson, 2016. "Individual and organizational conditions for the emergence and evolution of bandwagons," Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 88-133, March.
    2. Cano-Rodríguez, Manuel & Márquez-Illescas, Gilberto & Núñez-Níckel, Manuel, 2017. "Experts or rivals: Mimicry and voluntary disclosure," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 46-54.
    3. Fareed, Naleef & Bazzoli, Gloria J. & Farnsworth Mick, Stephen S. & Harless, David W., 2015. "The influence of institutional pressures on hospital electronic health record presence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 28-35.
    4. Karine Lamiraud & Stephane Lhuillery, 2016. "Endogenous Technology Adoption and Medical Costs," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(9), pages 1123-1147, September.
    5. repec:eee:jbrese:v:85:y:2018:i:c:p:23-31 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fabrizio, Kira R. & Hawn, Olga, 2013. "Enabling diffusion: How complementary inputs moderate the response to environmental policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1099-1111.
    7. Jay J. Shen & Charles B. Moseley, 2012. "Organisational factors associated with adoption of comprehensive and basic electronic-record systems in US hospitals," International Journal of Public Policy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 8(1/2/3), pages 92-105.
    8. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9557-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ben-Assuli, Ofir, 2015. "Electronic health records, adoption, quality of care, legal and privacy issues and their implementation in emergency departments," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 287-297.
    10. repec:bla:srbeha:v:34:y:2017:i:1:p:51-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Liangjie Zhao & Wenqi Duan, 2014. "Simulating the Evolution of Market Shares: The Effects of Customer Learning and Local Network Externalities," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 43(1), pages 53-70, January.
    12. Carole Roan Gresenz & Scott P. Laughery & Amalia Miller & Catherine E Tucker, 2015. "Health IT and Ambulatory Care Quality," Working Papers WR-1131, RAND Corporation.
    13. van den Oever, Koen, 2017. "Uncharted waters : A behavioral approach to when, why and which organizational changes are adopted," Other publications TiSEM 0136c8c2-ecdd-4f82-8ca7-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    14. repec:spr:infosf:v:17:y:2015:i:5:d:10.1007_s10796-014-9497-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:enr:rpaper:0013 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Thomas Koslowski & Jens Strüker, 2011. "ERP On Demand Platform," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 3(6), pages 359-367, December.


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