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A changing pattern in lines : a history of the introduction and use of barcode technology in Australia - 1965 to 1990

Ellem, Arnold Laurence

Description

During the 1980s the Australian retail industry, led by the grocery sector, introduced a new computer-based technology - automated barcode-scanning at the point-of-sale. This thesis investigates the diffusion of the new technology into Australian supermarkets and retail stores, and the process by which its wide use was accepted in Australia. Exploring the introduction and use of this mundane and usually ignored, but crucially important element of international modern technological...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorEllem, Arnold Laurence
dc.date.accessioned2016-10-24T00:03:20Z
dc.date.available2016-10-24T00:03:20Z
dc.date.copyright2015
dc.identifier.otherb3738486
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/109369
dc.description.abstractDuring the 1980s the Australian retail industry, led by the grocery sector, introduced a new computer-based technology - automated barcode-scanning at the point-of-sale. This thesis investigates the diffusion of the new technology into Australian supermarkets and retail stores, and the process by which its wide use was accepted in Australia. Exploring the introduction and use of this mundane and usually ignored, but crucially important element of international modern technological infrastructure demonstrates how its accepted use in Australia was established through an evolving socio-political process that was open to both manipulation and misunderstanding. This is a case study of a commercial technology, used by organisations and firms rather than individuals. Its introduction was focused on efficiency, financial decision making, and extending the management control of individual retailing firms. The technology's adoption was contested, with its proponents seeking an unregulated use, while opponents demanded regulatory controls. The industry's hopes for greater profitability through investments in computerised speed and efficiency were challenged by calls to safeguard consumers' rights to pricing information and to protect the jobs of low-skilled workers. Analysing the strategies employed during this struggle reveals how Australian political and regulatory systems, as well as the broader community, viewed the use of the technology. This analysis shows that an ad-hoc coalition of industry actors was more organised, cohesive, and effective than the loose group of organisations opposing the industry's intended use of the technology. Nonetheless, the thesis demonstrates that the technology's proponents were not entirely successful in achieving their early aims, with substantial compromise required to reach a resolution that was acceptable to politicians, regulators, unions, consumer organisations, and the Australian community. A mainly chronological narrative argues that local factors were more important than international or technical factors in determining the pattern of use and the process of the acceptance of automated barcode-scanning technology in Australia. Early adopters of the technology are examined and reasons proposed as to why independent grocers and not the large national supermarket chains led the introduction of the technology into Australia. Some comparisons are made with the experience of the leading early adopting country - the United States of America - with these involving diffusion as well as regulatory, political, and community responses to the use of the new technology. The thesis also considers how the changing structure of the Australian grocery sector, the developing role of Australian business associations, and shifts in government policy were significant factors that enabled the cooperation necessary to introduce a system of standardised product numbering within a competitive industry.
dc.format.extentxii, 389 leaves
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherCanberra, ACT : The Australian National University
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.titleA changing pattern in lines : a history of the introduction and use of barcode technology in Australia - 1965 to 1990
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.institutionThe Australian National University
local.contributor.supervisorFurphy, Sam
local.contributor.supervisorcontactsamuel.furphy@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2015
local.description.notesThe author would like the thesis to be restricted due to planning to publish it.
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2015
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationSchool of History, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University
local.description.embargo2033-12-25
local.request.emailrepository.admin@anu.edu.au
local.request.nameDigital Theses
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5146a999968
dc.date.updated2016-10-18T00:49:40Z
dcterms.accessRightsRestricted access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsRestricted Theses

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