Monitoring Changes to Federal Health IT Privacy Policy: A Case Study in Punctuated Equilibrium

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Applying the communication theory called punctuated equilibrium to an activity system in the federal department that oversees health-information privacy reveals that the theory fails to align well with a government activity system rooted in a stable democratic tradition. This activity system is structured to accommodate a wide variety of stakeholders and significant organizational change. This case study prompts a reexamination of punctuated equilibrium as an approach to understanding the role of documents in certain types of activity systems.