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BPM and change management: An ambidextrous perspective

Daniele Binci (University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)
Sara Belisari (Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)
Andrea Appolloni (Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 25 November 2019

Issue publication date: 16 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to focus on the implementation of an ambidexterity strategy in a large Italian Company that works in the energy field. The aim of the study is to understand how contextual ambidexterity has been achieved during a business process management (BPM) approach by describing the main variables that interacted during the project implementation.


The authors based their study both on primary (direct observation and interviews) and secondary (company manuals, books and procedures) qualitative investigations of BPM approach based on three business process re-engineering (BPR) projects and nine total quality management (TQM) projects, focused on change team behaviors, dynamics and dialogues.


The authors observed that the implementation of simultaneously radical and incremental change projects has been influenced by the exploration and exploitation activities related to every single TQM and BPR project considered. The findings suggest that the overall project has been influenced by four main underlying variables, which are task specialization and systems interoperability (knowledge transfer), identity and leadership (knowledge conversion) and two output variables (ambiguity and feedback to change), that, by interacting, enable ambidexterity.

Research limitations/implications

BPM is an important option to consider within the ambidexterity theory, being conceptually conceived as an approach in which TQM and BPR actually complement each other. Moreover, the results contextualize the importance of the change management team (CMT) to manage the connections between knowledge creation and refinement, and vice versa, depending particularly on the knowledge conversion process enabled by a flexible team culture. The focus of the study is mainly at the BPR and TQM project level. The authors consider structural ambidexterity and its enabling mechanisms as the framework in which BPM is implemented. Moreover, research limitations are related both to the specificity of the context, a large, highly specialized and mechanistic company and to the qualitative approach that may reduce the generalization of the empirical results.

Practical implications

Managers need to be cognizant and aware both of the BPM techniques, in order to sustain ambidexterity, and of ambiguity and change feedback as variables that enable the effective connection of the different steps of innovation or refinement strategy and, therefore, of ambidexterity. Moreover, the contextual factors such as leadership and people identity should be considered and managed as important variables related to change.


The originality of this paper is related to improving the understanding of how to implement the theoretical concept of ambidexterity in a real world organization, by providing new evidence that highlights the importance of contextual ambidexterity within a structural ambidexterity strategy during a BPM project.



Binci, D., Belisari, S. and Appolloni, A. (2020), "BPM and change management: An ambidextrous perspective", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 1-23.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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