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The regulatory power of standardized business processes

Julia A.M. Reif (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany)
Katharina G. Kugler (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany)
Felix C. Brodbeck (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 22 November 2018

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




Managing business processes means establishing and maintaining their regulatory power, i.e., their capacity to guide and shape the practice of users and stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to examine how the regulatory power of standardized business processes can be established and managed.


Building on a theory of standardization and on qualitative data, the authors suggest a “model of self-reinforcing business process management.”


Business process management consists of several phases (process design, process implementation, process application and process follow-up). A cyclical perspective on how these phases work together to create process legitimacy as presented in the model of self-reinforcing business process management can foster better understanding of the self-reinforcing dynamics of business process management.

Research limitations/implications

The paper offers starting points for interdisciplinary research on business process management. The proposed model should be further examined with regard to its usefulness for overcoming tensions and dynamics associated with standardization.

Practical implications

The model of self-reinforcing business process management provides a guideline for managers involved in planning, implementing, applying, or improving business processes or further areas of change-related organizational governance.


By modeling a cyclical sequence of business process management and highlighting the role of different kinds of legitimacy, the authors integrate functionalist and social perspectives on business process management in one model.



This research was supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 768). The authors thank Monika Hudler, Fiona Kunz and Florian Gerhardinger for supporting data collection and content coding. The authors thank Keri Hartman for proofreading the manuscript. The authors also want to express their gratitude to the reviewer for the valuable comments and suggestions. A previous version of this manuscript was presented as a poster at the conference of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, Münster, Germany.


Reif, J.A.M., Kugler, K.G. and Brodbeck, F.C. (2019), "The regulatory power of standardized business processes", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 1126-1144.



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