An Investigation into the Effect that Technology had on the Strategies of J. Sainsbury plc, Tesco plc and Safeway plc: With a Particular Focus on the Period 1980 to 1990

Morgan, Chris (1998). An Investigation into the Effect that Technology had on the Strategies of J. Sainsbury plc, Tesco plc and Safeway plc: With a Particular Focus on the Period 1980 to 1990. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fec1

Abstract

This research is focused on three food multiple retailers, Sainsbury plc, Tesco plc, and Safeway plc. The research is designed to explore the relationship between technology and strategy in these organisations. The currently held view among the researchers and managers of these organisations is that technology has a limited impact on the processes that formulate strategy, and as such may be regarded as having an enabling role. This thesis proposes that while this view may have been correct in the past it is so no longer, and that technology is not following strategy but leading strategy in the food retailers examined.

In order to confirm this thesis the history, technical development and technical structure of the three retailers was investigated. The results of this research was subsequently analysed and the following conclusions were made:
a. Technology has a much greater inq)act on the strategy of multiple food retailers than has been previously thought. Technology defines the boundaries of operational activities, and, through controlling a substantial proportion of the information that managers use in the strategy making process, technology de facto if not de jure greatly influences the retailers strategies, and in some cases may actually lead them.
b. The food multiples, in not appreciating the extent to which their fate is tied up with the information technology they are using, are foiling to educate and train the general management of the organisations technologically.
c. Technological progress is widening the gap between the general management and technical management, and in the long run this will cause serious strategic problems unless this gap is closed through positive action.

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