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Banking on Change: Information systems and technologies in UK High Street Banking, 1919-1979


  • Bernardo BÁTIZ-LAZO

    (London South Bank University)

  • Peter WARDLEY

    (University of the West of England)


This paper explores the automation of the supply of financial services on the British High Street. Its aim is to provide an historical perspective to highlight the longevity of organisational change in the financial sector and to emphasise its remarkable continuity: UK clearing banks and building societies had very specific problems and adopted particular responses. It also indicates the close correspondence of organisational change with assessments by senior bank staff of both technological opportunities and the reception to change of bank customers. Office mechanisation (from the introduction of office equipment and “mechanical banking” in the inter-war years to its culmination with computer technology in the late 1950s and beyond) was introduced alongside the development of new capabilities. Technological change eventually offered others the potential to compete in bank markets. However, time and again, and despite a broadening of the range of financial institutions which provided competing services, technical change associated with long-standing experience resulted in a strengthened competitive position for already established participants.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernardo BÁTIZ-LAZO & Peter WARDLEY, 2005. "Banking on Change: Information systems and technologies in UK High Street Banking, 1919-1979," Economic History 0503001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:0503001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, 2004. "Strategic alliances and competitive edge: insights from Spanish and UK banking histories," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 23-56.
    2. M. R. Benedict & Maurice D. Jones & George Gardner & F. L. Thomsen & Conrad H. Hammar, 1931. "Notes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 13(3), pages 486-495.
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    banks; building societies; technological change; management accounting;

    JEL classification:

    • N - Economic History

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