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Department of Economics, WU (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien) Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness, Department of Economics, WU (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien)

No 12:
The Adoption and Enforcement of a Technological Regime: The Case of the first IT Regime

Werner Hölzl () and Andreas Reinstaller ()

Abstract: In this paper we explore the process of adoption and enforcement of a number of new information processing technologies, such as the typewriter, calculators, tabulation gears and book-keeping machines, starting from the 1880s in the United States. We show that their innovation and diffusion was inexorably coupled to the economic development in the USA in the late 19th century. It is a complex and contradictory consequence of underlying socio-economic processes that led to the formation of modern organisational structures in large scale manufacturing which required systematic and efficient information processing. The typewriter and all the complementary office automation devices that entered the scene shortly after were part of a socio-technical regime that started being established: the office work regime or as we prefer to call it the first IT regime, as for the first time a technology was set up to process information on large scale. The logic of large scale manufacturing to produce standardised products in large series and to apply labour saving techniques was cast into the organisation of administration. This required a convergence of technical practices. The lock-in to the inferior QWERTY-keyboard is hence the outcome of the diffusion and hardening of the First IT Regime.

Keywords: Technological regimes; adaption and enforcement of technologies; information technology; QWERTY; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: L22; L23; N8; O31; O33; (follow links to similar papers)

September 2000

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