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Big causes and small events: QWERTY and the mechanization of office work

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  • Andreas Reinstaller
  • Werner Hölzl

Abstract

This article studies the adoption of typewriters in the United States, France, and Germany in the period between 1870 and 1930. The aim of the article is to show how specific problem-solving heuristics and routines, which have been developed to solve technical and social problems on the shop floor, have also shaped the organization of work and complementary technologies at the administrative level. We argue that performance criteria other than pure typing speed were relevant to the adoption of typewriters and the QWERTY keyboard, and reconsider the debates on path dependence surrounding the QWERTY keyboard. Copyright 2009 The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Associazione ICC. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Reinstaller & Werner Hölzl, 2009. "Big causes and small events: QWERTY and the mechanization of office work," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(5), pages 999-1031, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:999-1031
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/icc/dtp030
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonhard Dobusch & Elke Schüßler, 2013. "Theorizing path dependence: a review of positive feedback mechanisms in technology markets, regional clusters, and organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 617-647, June.
    2. Andreas Reinstaller, 2011. "The Modularity of Technology and Organisations. Implications for the Theory of the Firm," WIFO Working Papers 398, WIFO.
    3. Neil M., Kay, 2013. "Lock-in, path dependence, and the Internationalization of QWERTY," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-41, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    4. Neil Kay, 2013. "Lock-in, path dependence, and the internationalization of QWERTY," Working Papers 1310, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.

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