Business Process Reengineering

Management Services, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Business Process Reengineering


A retrospective look. Part one.

Abstract

This paper cites recent research into two public sector/local government organisations (LGOs), as they attempted to implement change through Business Process Reengineering (BPR). The unfortunate but not entirely unpredictable outcomes of the research were that these organisations were not 'ready' for change of such a 'radical' nature as BPR, that senior managers did not really understand the concept or its implications, and that cultural inertia, resistance to change and lack of effective leadership at senior levels were all contributory factors.

A key issue is the nature of the way people in leadership positions in these organisations actually 'think', and how this 'thinking' needs to fundamentally change before the organisations themselves are likely to benefit from radical improvements. Gershon's Review has been in the headlines this year (April, 2009) and the requirement for such change is as present as it was when his report was first issued five years ago.

Introduction

Recent research into the potential implementation of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) in two local government organisations (LGOs) within the UK (Chamberlin, 2008), suggests that these organisations were not 'ready' (Hammer and Stanton, 1995) for change of such a 'radical' nature as BPR, or even the move towards becoming more process- (or system-) based organisations.

The study commenced by reviewing the literature surrounding reengineering - or BPR, as it had become more widely known - including, as appropriate, other approaches to quality and change management. Focusing also on critical 'success' and 'failure' factors (CSF & CFF; Al-Mashari and Zairi, 1999), two key issues emerged that were relevant to BPR's potential for success in such organisations; the concepts of 'Organizational Readiness' (Hammer and Stanton, 1995), and that of 'degrees' of BPR, or 'Project Radicalness' (Kettinger et al, 1997).

A qualitative research approach was adopted using two case studies (Hartley, 1994), with 28, semistructured, in-depth interviews held with 29 participants from the two co-operating LGOs. 'Purposive sampling' (Saunders, et al, 2000) was employed with participants selected from those organisations' BPR training cohorts and those involved more directly at junior, middle and senior management levels. Access was also granted to meetings and organisational documentation. Impact analysis was undertaken with group and individual interviews.

The outcome of the study, and its reasons, were not entirely unexpected:

* Inadequate understanding of the concept of BPR itself;

* Lack of effective leadership at senior level(s);

* Cultural inertia;

* Resistance to change.

Understanding

The research discovered no real evidence that anyone, at any level, amongst those espousing the virtues and intended application of BPR, in either organisation, had made any real attempt to understand - ie, fully understand - what this might mean. It is contended that any organisation - but more especially any large organisation so mired in cultural drag as had been acknowledged in those two LGOs - that was beginning to consider embarking upon an approach to change that by its own definition was to be 'radical', should in the first instance seek to fully understand what that might mean.

Whilst the right language was used in documentation, presentations and other communications to staff, the resultant 'understanding' itself was at the very least inconsistent, and in reality was quite inadequate.

This was a senior management leadership responsibility, yet degrees of understanding and commitment at this level also were, at best, inconsistent.

My own experience, also of a UK corporate organisation that reduced from c250,000 employees to around half that, over the first half of the 1990s, at the same time making a serious shift towards becoming a process-based organisation (Harvey, 1995: 29/31), was that its middle and senior level managers had to change, in both the way they behaved, and the way they thought. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Business Process Reengineering
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.