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

Andreas Reinstaller () and Werner Hölzl ()

Industrial and Corporate Change, 2009, vol. 18, issue 5, 999-1031

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.

Date: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:999-1031