A Framework for Understanding AI-Induced Field Change: How AI Technologies are Legitimized and Institutionalized

Benjamin Cedric Larsen

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Artificial intelligence (AI) systems operate in increasingly diverse areas, from healthcare to facial recognition, the stock market, autonomous vehicles, and so on. While the underlying digital infrastructure of AI systems is developing rapidly, each area of implementation is subject to different degrees and processes of legitimization. By combining elements from institutional theory and information systems-theory, this paper presents a conceptual framework to analyze and understand AI-induced field-change. The introduction of novel AI-agents into new or existing fields creates a dynamic in which algorithms (re)shape organizations and institutions while existing institutional infrastructures determine the scope and speed at which organizational change is allowed to occur. Where institutional infrastructure and governance arrangements, such as standards, rules, and regulations, still are unelaborate, the field can move fast but is also more likely to be contested. The institutional infrastructure surrounding AI-induced fields is generally little elaborated, which could be an obstacle to the broader institutionalization of AI-systems going forward.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, AIES 2021
EditorsMarion Fourcade, Benjamin Kuipers, Seth Lazar, Deirdre Mulligan
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9781450384735
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event4th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence. AIES 2021: A Virtual Conference - Online, WWW
Duration: 19 May 202121 May 2021
Conference number: 4


Conference4th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence. AIES 2021
Internet address


  • Field change
  • Legitimization
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Institutional infrastructure

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