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Re-engineering in the face of a merger: soft systems and concurrent dynamics

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Business process re-engineering (BPR) was presented as the key to successful organizational transformation in the early 1990s. In this paper we examine a BPR initiative at a medium-sized UK building society in order to explore whether BPR succeeded or failed and to place BPR within the wider context of an organization facing a merger. The study describes the development of a novel BPR methodology which combines both hard and soft modelling approaches and reveals a degree of success in terms of process modelling and gaining consensus on process content and faults. However, two more far-reaching initiatives served to drain away support from the BPR effort: a parallel organizational analysis undertaken by an external consultancy and the hidden (although rumoured) merger talks with a larger partner. Therefore it is inappropriate to view BPR as an isolated, strategic initiative when, in practice, it may be one of several competing change activities vying for support within a changing organizational context. The paper concludes by presenting a model of concurrent dynamics which helps to explain why BPR lost momentum.Journal of Information Technology 2000 15, 165–179. doi:10.1080/026839600344348

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2000


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