What killed BPR? Some evidence from the literature
Throughout the first half of the 1990s business process re-engineering (BPR) was one of the most eagerly embraced management techniques, although often with results that were far from satisfactory. This tended to reinforce people's suspicions of information technology since IT is a key enabling agent, if not the driver, for BPR. The aim of this study was to provide literary evidence and reasons for the current widespread dissatisfaction with BPR. Using the keyword business process re-engineering/re-engineering, a total of 2,019 article abstracts were collected that spanned the period from January 1990 to December 1995, inclusive. The literature was analysed for 18 themes, six article types and 32 business areas, in addition to geographical origin, author origin, date, etc. The analysis showed that 97.8 per cent of the BPR literature has been written since the beginning of 1993, since which time there has been an explosive growth in the number of publications. However, a recent sharp downturn in the number of articles may be a sign that BPR is maturing, if not reaching the end of it useful life-cycle. The almost complete absence of research articles to underpin BPR is a distinctive feature of the literature. Thus, opportunities for researchers, as well as hitherto untapped opportunities for consulting practitioners, are clearly identified. Concludes that, while BPR may not have suffered a sudden fatality, it is the victim of neglect in some critical areas of life support.
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