Abstract: Managing Technological Change by Committee: Origins and Deployment of Data Processing Networks in Spanish and British Savings Banks, c. 1960-1988

Bernard Bátiz-Lazo and J. Carles Maixé-Altés

Abstract

This article explores how savings banks managed the process of computerization through ad hoc management committees articulated under the aegis of national associations (with an emphasis on developments in Spain). The combination of cash payments (and low penetration of checks) in the Spanish retail sector together with increasing administrative costs acted as incentives for Spanish savings banks embracing applications of computer technology (and specifically data processing infrastructure) to articulate viable solutions for cost reductions, offer alternative payment systems to cash, and facilitate greater diversification of their business portfolio within retail banking. A running comparison is made with similar developments in Britain. Computerization committees had little impact among the trustee savings banks. This was a result of a combination of a poor corporate strategy and a number of external events (including regulatory constraints limiting their business portfolio as well as amalgamation into a single entity). By the mid-1970s it was evident that the trustee savings banks had lost a significant share of the total deposits in sterling made by UK residents. Meanwhile, collective investments in computer technology were instrumental for Spanish savings banks to successfully contest the domestic retail bank market.