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Paradigms in business process management specifications: a critical overview

Panos T. Chountalas (Department of Business Administration, University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)
Athanasios G. Lagodimos (Department of Business Administration, University of Piraeus, Piraeus, Greece)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 8 October 2018

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




Despite its popularity, business process management (BPM) is not unequivocally defined, but obtains different forms with varying specifications. This paper presents a critical overview of BPM, as it appears within four dominant management paradigms: total quality management, standardized management systems, business process reengineering and Six Sigma. The purpose of this paper is to explore BPM specifications and compare the BPM implementation potential under each paradigm.


This is based on the analysis of a large number of highly cited scholarly publications. In order to identify the nature of BPM within each paradigm, a common framework for comparison is first established and then, for each paradigm, BPM is analyzed according to the main parameters of this framework.


Many differences among various BPM forms are paradigm driven. So, the approach adopted by each paradigm (i.e. individual-process or systemic approach) affects the scope and role of BPM. The principles of each paradigm directly affect the attributes assigned to BPM. Despite of important differences, the structure of BPM within all paradigms conforms to the stages of the classical BPM lifecycle. However, each paradigm assigns different weights to each stage and also displays different levels of BPM implementability.


The paper presents a first systematic comparison of BPM specifications for the dominant management paradigms primarily deployed. It thus explains why many attributes originating from the paradigms have crept into the general BPM specifications. This work can be considered as a step toward defining the core attributes of a paradigm-independent BPM model, thus enhancing its application scope as an invaluable management tool.



Chountalas, P.T. and Lagodimos, A.G. (2019), "Paradigms in business process management specifications: a critical overview", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 1040-1069.



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