Information system at a Birmingham brewery (article)

Alistair Mutch, “Managing managers: an early twentieth century service industry information system,” Management Decision 40/3 (April 2002): 288-96.

This article examines the construction and operation of a service industry information system in the early years of the twentieth century. It sets the operations of the Birmingham, UK, company of Mitchells & Butlers in the context of the brewing industry and the operation of public houses. The surviving records are used to construct a picture of a complex and sophisticated information system, which not only used accounting records to control managers but also used the same managers as sources of information about the broader context. The apparent success of this system is set against the reluctance of other brewers to adopt it. This is seen to relate in part to the very complexity of the information system created, but also in part to the broader perceptions of brewers about the nature and status of their trade.
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