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Business process governance: a comparative study of Germany and Japan

Bjoern Niehaves (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany)
Ralf Plattfaut (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany)
Joerg Becker (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 13 April 2012




Business process management (BPM) networks have become an important theme in both research and practice. Drawing from governance theory, this paper seeks to provide a theoretical understanding of BPM networks and introduce three types of BPM governance: market, network, and hierarchy. Subsequently, it aims to study the impact of BPM maturity, organization size, and financial stress (independent variables) on the three types of BPM governance (dependent variable).


After a thorough literature analysis a quantitative study is conducted. Comprehensive data of 538 local public administration in Germany and Japan is comparatively studied by means of a PLS (model and multi group) analysis.


The empirical study provides evidence for the significant dependence of BPM governance on contextual variables: the configuration of the BPM network relies on the BPM maturity and the perceived financial stress. Also, such dependence does vary between the two countries. Higher financial stress leads to more higher network sourcing in Germany and to higher market sourcing in Japan, respectively.

Practical implications

This study suggests that the role of process managers changes over time. In immature organizations, process managers appear to work alone and struggle for resources. However, once organizations start to mature, the role changes to that of an “orchestrator of different actors.” Process managers in future public organizations (assuming a positive development of capabilities), both in Asian and European settings, must be able to collaborate with actors from different governance mechanisms.


First, the paper provides a governance‐theory based understanding of BPM networks. It introduces market‐type, network‐type, and hierarchy‐type BPM governance and thereby provides greater conceptual and theoretical clarity of this important phenomenon. So far, this research area has been under‐theorized. Second, the paper provides a theory that explains BPM network governance. Here, relevant contextual variables are taken into account, including the BPM maturity of an organization. Third, the paper contributes comprehensive empirical insights into BPM networks structures, governance mechanisms, and their dependence on contextual variables (especially the BPM maturity of an organization). Fourth, it provides an ample comparative theory‐based analysis of BPM networks in two different countries. Such an endeavor, as to the author's best knowledge, has not yet been undertaken so far.



Niehaves, B., Plattfaut, R. and Becker, J. (2012), "Business process governance: a comparative study of Germany and Japan", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 347-371.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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