Management and the Hybridisation of Expertise: EFTPOS in Retrospect

Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 83-95, 1997

30 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007


This paper will show how the UK banks learnt the strategic value of retaining IT expertise in-house through their experience of the design of EFTPOS networks. The banks began by attempting to 'buy-in' IT expertise from other organisations, but they were first compelled to locate expertise in a jointly-controlled organisation called EFTPOS UK, then forced to develop the new IT expertise within their existing IT departments.

These manipulations of the 'organisational location' of expertise gave individual banks an ability to create their own technology strategies, which they promptly exploited in an attempt to gain competitive advantage. It will be argued that a greater capacity to form individual technology strategies and exploit competitive advantage would result from the active management of two other dimensions of expertise; these are termed the internal location and the individual partition of expertise. The first term refers to where in the organisation technical expertise is located, the second to how technical expertise is divided between individuals.

The process by which the individual partition of expertise changes is called the hybridisation of expertise and it is argued that although this is to an extent 'natural' it may certainly be managed. The case for a more aggressive and explicit expertise strategy including the active management of the process of hybridisation is made by reference to the nature of network design and practices in the management of technical expertise in other industries.

Keywords: EFTPOS, technical expertise, hybridization, ICT design

JEL Classification: O31, O32, O33

Suggested Citation

Howells, John, Management and the Hybridisation of Expertise: EFTPOS in Retrospect. Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 83-95, 1997, Available at SSRN:

John Howells (Contact Author)

Aarhus University ( email )

Department of Management
Bartholins Alle, 10
Aarhus, 8000
004587165102 (Phone)


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