Big Causes and Small Events: QWERTY and the Mechanization of Office Work

Posted: 5 Oct 2009

See all articles by Andreas Reinstaller

Andreas Reinstaller

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Werner Hölzl

Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)

Date Written: October 2009

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.

Suggested Citation

Reinstaller, Andreas and Hölzl, Werner, Big Causes and Small Events: QWERTY and the Mechanization of Office Work (October 2009). Industrial and Corporate Change, Vol. 18, Issue 5, pp. 999-1031, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1481589 or http://dx.doi.org/dtp030

Andreas Reinstaller (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Werner Hölzl

Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)

P.O. Box 91
Wien, A-1103
Austria

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