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Competition, contested retail space and the rise of the department store in Imperial Germany

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Abstract:

This paper explores the highly contested evolution of the department store in Imperial Germany from an open systems theory perspective. Existing approaches advocating an open systems interpretation highlight the importance of environmental conditions and their feedbacks to the organization and performance of the retail institution. In general, this framework lends itself well to an interpretation of German department store history as many of the critical demand-side and supply-side conditions are also present. However, one set of conditions remains understated in the previously published literature: to understand German department store evolution, it is vital to appreciate the importance of the changing nature of competition, social relations among retailers and regulation on the performance and internal organization of the retail institution.

Keywords: COMPETITION; DEPARTMENT STORES; IMPERIAL GERMANY; INTERNAL ORGANIZATION; SHOPKEEPERS; SOCIAL RELATIONS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/095939699342561

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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