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'The machine should fit the work': Organisation and Method and British approaches to new technology in business

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Abstract:

'Organisation and Method' (O&M) was a discipline promoted in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century as a way of improving the efficiency of administrative enterprises. O&M practitioners were influential actors in the implementation of various information technologies in British businesses. When computers became the new technology, their introduction was seen as a natural adjunct to O&M work. The O&M practitioners understood the connections between the individual tasks to be done, the final outcome desired, and the technologies available. The practice of organizational 'insiders' acting as the dedicated mediators of technological introduction resulted in some remarkable successes in computer introduction in Britain in those years. Eventually the O&M approach would be superseded by purely technical experts, arguably to the detriment of user satisfaction.

Keywords: 'Organisation and Method'; United Kingdom; computerization; history; information resources management

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07341510802044702

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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