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Practices of knowledge intensive process management: quantitative insights

Öykü Işik (Information Systems Management, Vlerick Business School, Gent, Belgium)
Willem Mertens (Information Systems Management, Vlerick Business School, Gent, Belgium)
Joachim Van den Bergh (Information Systems Management, Vlerick Business School, Gent, Belgium)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 31 May 2013




In contemporary businesses, the importance of knowledge workers and the knowledge intensive business processes (KIBPs) is ever increasing, yet they seem very hard to control and manage. The purpose of this paper is to grasp the specific characteristics of KIBPs and how they differ from non‐knowledge intensive business processes (non‐KIBP), also to question how organizations are using business process management (BPM) to manage and improve KIBPs. The differences in maturity and effectiveness of both types of processes are also evaluated.


Data for this research were collected through an online survey. The survey was designed based on a previously conducted exploratory study with semi‐structured interviews as well as the literature. The target group was BPM practitioners and the final sample included 98 respondents. Due to non‐normality, the analyses were conducted with non‐parametric tests. The research questions were analysed using Mann‐Whitney U test and Spearman's correlations.


It was found that KIBP and non‐KIBP have clearly different characteristics, such as the level of complexity, repeatability and creativity required. Also it was found that these processes are not managed or improved differently than non‐KIBPs, and suggest that organizations need to take these differences into consideration while managing and improving these processes. Furthermore, the results suggest that applying methodologies that aim to provide operational improvements may not necessarily produce the best results for KIBPs.


The paper answers a call for further development of the body of knowledge on knowledge‐intensive business processes, a rapidly emerging field of interest for BPM practitioners, where a clear gap in literature exists.



Işik, Ö., Mertens, W. and Van den Bergh, J. (2013), "Practices of knowledge intensive process management: quantitative insights", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 515-534.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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