Kettinger, W. J., and Grover, V. 1995. "Towards and Theory of Business Process Change
Management," Journal of Management Information Systems(12:1), pp. 9-30.
This special section comes during a period of tumultuous change in business. Global
competition, economic downturn, and the potential offered by emerging technologies
are pushing firms to fundamentally rethink their business processes. Many firms have
reached the conclusion that effecting business process change is the only way to leverage
their core competencies and achieve competitive advantage. This belief has led to
a near "re-engineering frenzy."
Consultants, seeking to provide solutions to these issues, prescribe business process
re-engineering (BPR) as a means to re-engineer aging processes to achieve strategic
objectives. BPR practitioners typically repackage existing change theories and techniques
from organizational behavior and design, information system management, operations
research, quality and human resources disciples in a new synthesis directed at dramatic
improvements in business performance.
While earlier cross-functional process redesign conceptualizations including Porter's
 value chain analysis and Gibson and Jackson's  business transformation via
information technology (IT) existed, it was the writings of both Davenport and Short
 and Hammer  that triggered intense interest from both academia practitioners
in re-engineering. Similar to the "classic" success stories touted on strategic information
systems about a decade ago , early literature on BPR included many examples of
BPR successes, such as Ford, Hallmark, Bell Atlantic, Taco Bell , AT&T , Kodak
, Texas Instruments, Merck and Cigna .
Despite the five odd years this phenomenon has been the rage, there is little research
support for its effectiveness beyond anecdotal evidence. This is in part because no
theory describing, explaining, and predicting the impact of BPR has been presented
to guide the progress of empirical research. In fact, the role that this phenomenon
has played in the formalization and advancement of management theory (or vice versa)
remains a relatively unexplored topic.
Clearly, the purpose of radical process change (re-engineering), as well as more incremental
business process improvement approaches (continuous improvement), is the transformation
of business processes. The desire to achieve such transformation has served to propel
practice ahead of formalized theory. We believe that the formalization of the theoretical
context of effective business process change management is essential for improved
implementation and, more generally, to advance systematic inquiry in the field.
The goal of this special section introduction is to present discussion that moves
toward a theory of business process change (BPC) management. The beginnings of such
a theory are based upon both conceptual synthesis of observations from practice as
well as drawn from research literature from several related social science disciples.
Our analysis leads to the conclusion that the theoretical basis of business process
change should concern the creation of an organizational environment that develops
a culture supportive of change through learning, knowledge sharing (including IT enablement),
and internal and external network partnering which facilitates the implementation
of effective process and change management practice, which leads to improvement in
business processes and greater stakeholder benefits, both of which are important in
achieving measurable performance improvements. Implied in this statement is the vital
role that the strategic leader plays in establishing strategic initiatives such as
communicating a vision to move the organization toward business process change and
providing tangible support to enable and maintain an organizational environment that
is receptive to BPC management practice.