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A cognitive BPM theory for knowledge-intensive processes

João Carlos de Almeida Rodrigues Gonçalves (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy)
Fernanda Araujo Baião (Department of Industrial Engineering, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Flavia Maria Santoro (Inteli Institute of Technology and Leadership, São Paulo, Brazil)
Giancarlo Guizzardi (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy) (Services and Cybersecurity Group, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 3 February 2023

Issue publication date: 15 March 2023




A literature review was conducted in order to establish a detailed definition of a knowledge-intensive process (KiP). Moreover, relevant theories from humanities – especially the fields of linguistics and philosophy – were thoroughly researched and adapted for establishing descriptive and analytical foundations for the phenomena involved. Finally, a cognitive business process management (BPM) theory was proposed in order to assess how sufficient are its respective explanatory and predictive powers. This study aims to discuss the aforementioned objective.


This study proposes a novel theory for KiPs that describe the process flow based on the participants' interactions and their beliefs, desires and intentions as the main drivers of the process enactment and execution.


The proposal puts forth a comprehensive definition of a KiP, depicting knowledge intensity, participant interaction and decision-making. The inner dynamics of each of these two elements (as well as other associated elements) are described as an information systems (IS) theory that enables the study of KiPs in detail, going beyond the typical techniques of the BPM field and common obstacles.


A theory proposal for KiP that applies concepts from speech act theory and intentional states as the main drivers for understanding the process dynamics are, to the best of the authors' knowledge, not present at the literature. Being an original proposal, the real-world scenario discussed brings up the explanatory and predictive powers of the theory as well as its innovative value for research in the field.



Fernanda Araujo Baião is partially funded by FAPERJ (grants 200.514/2023 and 211.308/2019) and CNPq (grants 312059/2022-1 and 422810/2021-5).


de Almeida Rodrigues Gonçalves, J.C., Baião, F.A., Santoro, F.M. and Guizzardi, G. (2023), "A cognitive BPM theory for knowledge-intensive processes", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 465-488.



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