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A roadmap for (un)successful BPM: positivist case studies

Amy Van Looy (Department of Business Informatics and Operations Management, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)
Jan Devos (Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 28 November 2018

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




While much research exists on methods and tools to support business processes, little research exists on the interrelationship with cultural and structural aspects. The purpose of this paper is to explore the chronological sequence in which culture and structure are important, as evidenced in 13 non-profit organisations that are changing towards a process-oriented way of working.


The authors use a positivist case study methodology with pattern-matching to falsify or confirm three theoretical perspectives that claim to explain the phenomena of organisational structure and culture, and their impact on business processes. The competing perspectives are: process lifecycle theories, organisational design theories and cultural and motivational theories.


The case studies cover six scenarios based on a recurrent sequence of changes and perceived outcome. The (theoretical and empirical) relationships between business processes, a process-oriented culture and a process-oriented structure are then combined in a process capability success model.

Research limitations/implications

Although limited to the non-profit sector, the findings agree that the process lifecycle is insufficient. Cultural and motivational theories prevail over organisational design theories to explain and predict process success.

Practical implications

From the process capability success model, a roadmap for (un)successful business process management (BPM) is derived with best practices and advice on the sequence of process improvements.


While the relevance of culture and structure has been touched in research before, the aspect of chronological sequence and pattern-matching sheds new light on the topic. The case studies performed also help to evidence how important it is to believe in process-oriented developments for organisations that want to apply BPM.



Van Looy, A. and Devos, J. (2019), "A roadmap for (un)successful BPM: positivist case studies", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 1164-1190.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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