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How the Future Shaped the Past: The Case of the Cashless Society

By Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, Thomas Haigh and David L. stearns


This paper invites readers to look into how beliefs about future events help to better understand organizational change. Our argument is that the adoption of information technology and the adoption of new organizational forms around it have been driven by shifts in collective ideas of legitimate organizational development. As an example we focus on the establishment during the 1960s of a vision within US retail financial services, namely of the “cashless/checkless society”. The article tells of the power of this “imaginaire” to bring consensus in driving actual technological developments.imaginaires, expectations, isomorphism, cashless society, payment systems, USA

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