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BPM capability development – a matter of contingencies

Bjoern Niehaves (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany)
Jens Poeppelbuss (Institute for Information Management Bremen (ifib), University of Bremen, Bremen, 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: 28 January 2014




Business process management (BPM) is a key concept in information systems (IS) research that helps to connect business strategy with the use of technology in an organization. Contemporary BPM research is no longer only about methods, procedures, or tools for managing or modeling processes but about assessing and developing BPM capability in organizations. For this purpose, a vast collection of maturity models has been designed by practitioners and scholars alike. Such models are used to assess the status quo and benchmark it against other organizations, and, most important, to guide the development of BPM capability. With this study, the paper challenges the maturity model perspective of such development models.


In this study, methods of qualitative IS research are employed to address the research objectives.


The paper shows that maturity model-based guidance would be inadequate. Instead, other concept-external factors resulting from organizational and environmental characteristics appear to be important indicators. The theory discussion introduces alternative takes on BPM capability development, lays out implications for BPM practice, and presents potentially fruitful paths for future research in the area of BPM capability development.


This paper challenges the current perspectives and contributes a new direction for conceptualizing BPM capability development.



This paper was written in the context of the research project KollaPro (promotional reference 01FL10004) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The authors would like to thank the anonymous BPMJ reviewers for their help in developing this paper. An earlier version of this paper was presented and discussed at the European Conference on Information Systems 2011.


Niehaves, B., Poeppelbuss, J., Plattfaut, R. and Becker, J. (2014), "BPM capability development – a matter of contingencies", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 90-106.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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