University of Maryland

Brian Butler


Professor and Senior Associate Dean

Former CASCI Director


Brian Butler is Professor and Senior Associate Dean at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He joined the iSchool in 2012 where he has been Director of the Master of Information Management (MIM) program, Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI), and Interim Dean. His research focuses on developing theories and techniques that enable groups, communities and organizations to harness the full potential of new technologies. His current interests and prior work include: assessing the role of local information institutions in communities’ capacity to adapt to environmental and economic change; techniques for mitigating the impact of politics on technology deployment in organizations; articulating principles for design of successful mass-collaboration systems; and developing methods for assessing the health of community-level information infrastructures.

Butler’s research and community-building work have been funded by federal agencies—including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Department of Agriculture—as well as foundations and corporations that include Microsoft Research, Yahoo! and Intel. His work has been published in Organization Science, Information Systems Research, ACM Transactions on Computer Human Interaction, The Journal of Medical Internet Research, and The Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology. From 1998-2011, Butler held academic appointments in the Katz Graduate School of Business and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds BS, MS and PhD degrees from Carnegie Mellon University.

Research Interests

Social media, social computing, and online communities, Community informatics (e.g., IT use in Local Food Systems and communities), Business Continuity Management, disaster response and organizational mindfulness, Power, politics, and IT; Policies and rules in mass collaboration systems, Implications of e-commerce technologies for inter-organizational relationships, Rhetorical communication as written information design

Selected Publications

Joyce, E., Pike, J. and Butler B. S. (in press). Overcoming Transience and Flux: Routines in Community-Governed Mass Collaborations.  Information, Technology, and People.

Butler, B. S., Bateman, P. J., Gray, P., & Diamante, E. I. (2014). An attraction-selection-attrition theory of online community size and resilience. MISQ Quarterly, 38(3), 699-728.

Butler, B. S., & Wang, X. (2012). The cross-purposes of cross-posting: Boundary reshaping behavior in online discussion communities. Information Systems Research23(3-Part-2), 993-1010.

Sharma, N., Butler, B. S., Irwin, J., & Spallek, H. (2011). Emphasizing social features in information portals: Effects on new member engagement. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology62(11), 2106-2120.

Butler, B., Kiesler, S., & Kraut, R. (2007). Community Effort in Online Groups: Who Does the Work and Why. Leadership at a Distance: Research in Technologically-Supported Work, 171.

Butler, B. S. (2001). Membership size, communication activity, and sustainability: A resource-based model of online social structures. Information systems research12(4), 346-362.