BPR and Organisational Culture
This chapter will review the literature on BPR as it relates to the cultural issues highlighted in the last chapter and will attempt to get beyond the simple proclamations to 'empower staff', encourage 'team working', and develop a 'communications programme'. Because many of the BPR writers or commentators address the cultural issues in more than one way, the chapter will consider each in turn, together with a more general review of journals and magazines, as well as looking at research into BPR failure. Finally, the summary will highlight an issue to research as part of this dissertation.
First, it is noted that the influential writers on BPR are nearly all management consultants: Champy is Chairman of CSC Index, Davenport with Ernst & Young, Johansson, McHugh, Pendlebury, and Wheeler are all with Coopers & Lybrand, and Andrews and Stalick with Business Reengineering Resources. Hammer is a professor at MIT and Obeng a doctor at the Ashridge Management College but both also undertake consultancy work. Crainer is a freelance writer.
Hammer is quite clear where he stands:
"'Teamwork' and 'empowerment' are abstractions and generalities around which it's impossible to get one's arms. They describe characteristics or attributes that one might want an organisation to exhibit, but there is no direct way to achieve them. They are consequences of process designs and they can only be achieved in that context."
(Hammer & Champy, 1993, p32)
Hammer & Champy clearly see a new culture as the outcome of BPR and the process of implementing a new process1. These force new behaviour which will, in due course, change the culture and thus the characteristics of the organisation. They map this out in their 'business system diamond': 1) business processes determine 2) the jobs and structures which are then 3) managed and measured to 4) shape values and beliefs (p 81).
Hammer & Champy do recognise that the culture may not be conductive to even initiating BPR. Their response is quite brutal giving the example of a CEO who:
"[first] created a new organisational structure that emphasised the autonomy of major business units and eliminated cross subsidies, installed a new senior management team, and carried out a significant reduction in the workforce that slashed costs and signalled the end of [a] traditionally paternalistic culture. None of these steps fits our definition of Reengineering, but they helped create an environment in which Reengineering could succeed"
(Hammer & Champy, 1993, p110)
This is very much a case of breaking down the cultural resistance to change rather than creating a positive atmosphere for change. Their "New World of Work" is very much addressed to those that survive BPR, change their behaviour and are self managed. They shall be rewarded with more fulfilling work. Despite a reduction in managerial layers there is still a role for leaders:
"The leader's primary role is to act as visionary and motivator. ... From the leader's convictions and enthusiasm, the organisation derives the spiritual energy that it needs to embark on a voyage into the unknown. .... Ambition, restlessness and intellectual curiosity are the hallmarks of the Reengineering Leader".
(Hammer & Champy, 1993, p103)
Hammer & Champy's view of culture can be classed as an outcome, sometimes an inhibitor, and an internal variable influenced by actions that change behaviour. There is an implication of an integrative culture. Change addresses behaviour patterns. The cultural type is predominately task. The leaders role is to create the right atmosphere.
Despite his emphasis on innovation and technology, Davenport clearly states that "Organisational and human resource issues are more central than technology issues to the behaviour changes that must occur within a process" (p95). Davenport sees two types of culture: "empowerment or control". The first reflects "the recent shift to empowerment, ... participation, open .. communications, ... leading to .. greater employee satisfaction" (p104). Davenport clearly sees such people actively participating in innovative process redefinition. However, for those not so enthusiastic:
"employees not expected to be committed to their jobs may be more appropriately executed in a control-oriented culture. Control in such an environment ensures the quality and efficiency of the work and guarantees that the knowledge does not reside solely with employees".
(Davenport, 1993, p105)
Davenport's example of such a culture is McDonalds. Where there is a poor process innovation to cultural fit, then culture becomes a "constraint" (p106) and like Hammer & Champy, he sees process change creating cultural changes through changing people's behaviour:
"Change incurred by process innovation is not only broad, but deep, extending from the visions of managers to the attitudes and behaviours of the lowest level workers. ... Its significant behavioural component makes process innovation based change qualitatively different from other forms of large scale restructuring".
(Davenport, 1993, p174)
With regard to leadership, Davenport emphasises traditional management functions: "planning, direction setting, monitoring, decision making, and communicating" (Chap. 13) and feels "leadership and influence building, are extremely important to6 managerial success, but may be outside the realm of a process orientation".
Davenport's view of culture is multi-facet. At times an enabler, an inhibitor, or an outcome. Culture tends to be a root metaphor but at times also seen as a possible internal and external variable. Change addresses the inner behaviour norms and behaviour patterns. There is an acceptance of cultural type as it is, with a belief that many desire a task culture but for those that don't a role culture is necessary, but at a lower level. Management rather than leadership is key.
Johansson et al, during their "Phase 1 Discover" phase, seek the organisation's "values and culture" (p195) but then ignores them during "Phase 2 Redesign" which uses systems techniques such as process mappings and heavily promotes Taylorism (pp 209-234). During "Phase 3 Realise" culture comes to the fore again in order "to create a new corporate style that helps the necessary changes to be introduced". There is an emphasis on 'force':
"Change management requires a clear understanding of the existing culture and behaviour patterns of the people in a business, and a deliberate attempt to change this into some other form of behaviour". and
"Perhaps the most important value that BPR either forces or reinforces is teamwork". and
"One of the key jobs of business unit leaders is to build and foster that trust, to reward trust, and to force those who cannot learn to trust and be part of a team to leave".
(Johansson et al, 1993, p196, 197, & 198).
They recognise "Culture is the most difficult to change" (p191) and management "will champion the change, emphasising shared values and a mission of excellence through empowerment" (p192). Staff are motivated by rewarding them based on their team contribution (p158, 192). Performance and culture are clearly linked:
"The stronger the behaviour norms, the more consistent and co-ordinated behaviour becomes. There is evidence ..... that organisations with well-understood norms of behaviour produced focused, high performing employees".
(Johansson et al, 1993, p196-7)
Johansson et al see leaders as "technically knowledgeable .....; Often leaders who rose through the technical ranks" (p27). Still, they are expected to "create a vision, articulate values, and create a climate for [others] .. to grow, flourish, and have an impact on the way work is done" (p27). Role setting through "personal best" achievement behaviour is emphasised (p193) but examples of the 'stick-approach' are in evidence:
"Bossidy [CEO] of Allied-Signal tells his top business unit managers that they will move towards process orientation or they will go home and work on their resumes [CVs]".
(Johansson et al , 1993, p194)
Leadership is very top-down from business leaders and senior management to business unit leader to teams and finally to the individual employee (p191-204). Johansson et al accept sub-cultures will exist at the unit level (p196) though they see values of trust, teamwork, self management, creativity, etc. being common throughout the organisation.
Johansson et al views are very much based on the machine metaphor. Their views of culture can be classed as integrative, an enabler and an internal variable. Change addresses those middle levels from behavioural patterns to values with an emphasis on the former. The cultural type is task with a taste of power. Clear and strong leadership sets behavioural patterns and establishes climate and reward systems.
Andrews & Stalick recognise that organisational culture is the:
"unspoken, collective rules and beliefs ... discerned ... through ... language, symbols, myths, and rituals" and is held within "individual belief systems [as] the attitudes and mental models .... [ that] shape their attitudes towards others and their behaviour on the job".
(Andrews & Stalick, 1994, pp6-7)
They believe that "changing embedded corporate values is perhaps the most powerful form of change" (p7) but recognise this is not easy and can take time. It also "requires organisation executives to demonstrate leadership" and "requires fundamental changes in the values held by executives" (p8).
In contrast to Johansson et al, Andrews & Stalick warn leaders again using "negative reinforcement" but to encourage an environment that is reflective, open, problem solving, communicative, facilitating, full of ideas, fun, "learning, productive, quality-focused, customer driven" (p17). They talk of a new atmosphere of "trust and optimism" (p26). They recognise this is not so easy and provide "seven transformation principles":
(Andrews & Stalick, 1994, p 28)
It is not surprising that changing the underlying beliefs is first, given that they attribute a 66% BPR failure rate to this factor alone. Allowing people to participate in "The Visioning and Goal Setting Process" is seen as the first step to changing assumptions and beliefs (p46). But they also see the need to send strong messages by "eliminating or changing of symbols" (e.g. "eliminating reserved parking spaces") (p114), by BPR sponsors "modellin6g the communications and transformation behaviour wanted for the rest of the organisation" (p79), and by changing the organisation's beliefs (e.g. "through fair and equitable support and assistance during down-sizing" to demonstrate "capacity to value people as unique individuals regardless of their function or performance" (p115)).
Whilst Andrews & Stalick demonstrate the use of techniques such as process mapping, their emphasis is more on the change process and the people involved. Cultural issues are addressed by recognising and managing the impact of the redesign to existing assumptions, to existing power and political bases, and to existing visions [i.e. assumptions of the future] (pp 189-193).
Andrews & Stalick's views of culture can be classed as integrative and an internal variable. They see culture as an enabler. Change addresses all levels from artefacts to assumptions and beliefs. The cultural type is task. Leadership is primarily visioning and setting behaviour patterns.
These writers highlight a key question of this dissertation: should cultural change precede BPR or is cultural change the outcome of BPR? (p162). However, with all 4 examples of cultural change preceding BPR it is clear where their views are. Two of the examples emphasise bottom up change aimed at the staff and one emphasises top town management change first (p162-165). With regard to BPR induced change, as opposed to other change programmes, Obeng & Crainer state:
"in reengineering change often appears illogical. By its very nature, proactive change is harder to rationalise and communicate than reactive change where you can point to specific events which have already occurred and are having a clear effect on the business. Indeed, initial responses are emotional - anger, fear, insecurity - though, over time, they may become accepted as logical".
(Obeng & Crainer, 1994, p167).
They go on to highlight the consequential difficulties of managers 'selling' BPR and, once implemented, the resulting ambiguity in "job definitions, responsibilities and expectations", as well as the loss of "career ladders" and "power bases", particularly for managers (p168-172). They refer to research which shows that whilst many companies have out-placement programmes to assist those made redundant, few have programmes to help those that remain. Obeng & Crainer are concerned that some companies see a benefit of BPR in that it "creates a culture of insecurity" which keeps people 'on their toes' and suggests "a more positive approach is to link rewards and remuneration more closely to customer satisfaction or team performance" (p171).
Obeng & Crainer's views of culture can be classed as an internal variable and enabler. Change addresses behaviour and values (p162) and the cultural type is task (p178-80). Leadership is primarily setting new behaviour 6patterns (p180) but also includes visioning (p181) and developing people and self (p173-7).
To all these definitions must be added those of the social scientist some of whom are rather cynical. Gooding (1993) is one: "BPR can mean loosing your job", or it can mean "Lean and Mean". Vidgen et al (1994) sees the "machine metaphor" (p4) as the dominant metaphor underpinning BPR. They berate some BPR writers and practitioners for:
"giving the impression that staff savings take precedence over employee empowerment " and argue that
"This [the job impact of BPR] should perhaps be considered from the perspective of those employees who no longer have jobs".
(Vidgen et al, 1994, p5)
These social scientists, see culture, or at least the neglect of people, as an inhibitor to effective implementation of BPR. They promote soft systems methodologies (SSM) that use "cultural stream analysis ... to establish which changes are 'culturally feasible'" (Vidgen et al (1994). According to these authors
"successful uses of the [SSM] methodology have been both participative and incremental in nature. Incrementalism derives from its assumption that culture and politics are 'givens' ".
(Vidgen et al, 1994, p7)
Thus the implication is that culture is a root metaphor.
A number of HR commentators have highlighted the BPR pre-occupation with the processes. Morrow suggests that people approach BPR from the wrong perspective and therefore the wrong emphasis. He says:
"People think that BPR is an exercise in redesign. We think of it as an exercise in change management".
(Morrow in Stevens, 1994)
Whilst BPR research appears undeveloped, one can, because of its significant organisational impact, refer to other research into organisational change and culture. Many, like Nadler (1993, p89), Nicholson (1993, p210), and Walsham (1993, p195) see culture as a resistor to change but vary if and how it can be changed. Nicholson (p209), and Beer et al (1993, p99) see a new culture as an outcome of organisational change, sometimes suggesting shock therapy as a technique for forcing change. Goodstein & Burke (1993, p171), Coghlan (1993, p120), and Benjamin & Mabey (1993, p186) see culture more of an enabler, often through such techniques as OD group therapy.
Lyotard (in Martin J., 1992, p193) and other postmodernist emphasise a more deterministic stance, as does perhaps Martin J. (1992, p195, & with Meyerson, 1987, p636).
A number of researchers (Pfeffer (1993, p201), Benjamin & Mabey (1993, p181), Walsham (p191), Nicholson (p210)) put equal or more emphasis on power as a significant change factor, but as Handy earlier indicated, power can be 6a type of culture. Walsham and Pettigrew (1987) put great emphasis on context and process, and seeing change as longitudinal.
A review of journal and magazine articles acquired from various CD-ROM databases over the last year on the topic of BPR and culture or organisational change confirms the emphasis towards management or consultant perspective. Benefits are expressed in terms of customer service or cost reduction. Impact on staff is often underplayed:
"there has been some employee resistance. Feigher [VP of Telops a division of GTE] says some people had to be terminated, while others were transferred out of the way"
(Cosco, 1993, p61) [researcher's emphasis]
In fact, 2,500 jobs were ended and more are likely. Benefits for staff are expressed in management language such as "empowerment". Management's need for changes by staff is often expressed using the machine metaphor: "in other words reengineering people's attitudes" (Winslow, 1993, p57). Only one quotation of a staff member's own words has been found and there is little mention of staff surveys or social consequences. Technology has a higher profile than people issues. Despite very high failure rates being quoted the reasons for failure is not reflected in the articles for obvious reasons. See table 4.1.
|Keywords in Search||Files||Hits|
|BPR and process*||56||908|
|BPR and (organization* or organisation*)||41||424|
|BPR and (benefit* or value or gain*)||27||334|
|BPR and technology||25||284|
|BPR and (problem* or difficult*)||21||249|
|BPR and (Staff or employee*)||19||284|
|BPR and staff and Survey*||11||172|
|BPR and cultur*||10||107|
|BPR and (pain or trauma* or upheaval*)||6||79|
|BPR and (failure* or disaster* or abandon*)||6||49|
|BPR and social||4||21|
Table 4.1 Survey of media articles (* means look for words beginning with prefix)
Being a relatively new topic, research into BPR failures has only just began. Table 4.2, summarises the research that has been identified.
|Source & (Background)||Failure Rate||Reasons|
|Andrews & Stalick (1994)
|66% (p28)||Culture: "failure to anticipate the power of biases and assumptions"
Also opposites of success criteria: focus, methodology, time, participation, leadership (pp16-18)
|Bashein et al (1994)
|-||"Reengineering is a high risk, high reward endeavour"|
|Belmonte & Murray (1993)
(quoting unknown change management consultants)
|80%||Change Management failure|
|Best & Forman (1992)
|-||IT: "fragmented, inflexible application software infrastructures"|
|> 50%||Led by IT people; Scale: "new civilization, with a new culture, new values, and new ways of working;... change at that fundamental level will have deep repercussions. " (p47)|
|Hammer & Champy (1993)
|50-70%||19 reasons - see appendix 1:
Focus 8; people 5 (incl. values and beliefs); Management / methodology 4; Other 2
|Johansson et al (1993)||-||Lack of: Leadership, Developing teamwork, Managing the transition, Individuals "linked by common values and highly motivated" (Chap. 8 & p202).|
|Liddle, L. acting director of US Patent and Trademark Office Business Reengineering Team (in Taylor, 1994) (User)||-||"But, it is so big and affects so many areas, virtually no aspect of the organization is untouched. ... People feel threatened ... reengineering is really, really hard,"|
|Martin (ed.) (1994)
(Survey of IT Executives)
(+28% don't know) (p17)
|None given, but concern expressed over ability of organisation to transform (e.g. "new roles, responsibility, and technology", p20)|
|often||"faltering support from upper management sponsors"|
|Stoddard & Jarvenpaa (in Anon, 1994)
(35 case studies)
|often||Lack of: "managers must be united ... willing to invest considerable corporate resources"; And "[In] Europe belief in social rights [and] residual nationalism" (p82)|
|Willcocks & Smith (1994)
(Academics ex Mgt. Consultant) -
(4 case studies)
|-||Failure to manage the politics and power.
Also BPR is "multi-disciplinary, cross functional ambitious .... complex implementation issues" (p25)
Table 4.2 Reasons for BPR failure. Academic case studies in bold
There is a wide discrepancy in the failure rate, from as low as 10% to as high as 80%, though many are in excess of half. Whilst the key reasons appear to be the scale of the changes and the inadequate change management, quite often the people aspects are mentioned, including culture (or its attributes). Of the two academic studies, Willcocks & Smith's study interestingly highlights the political and power dimension. This was also mentioned by a number of other academic papers and books on organisational change (e.g. Pfeffer (1993, p201-206), Schein (1985, p66, 72-74), Andrews & Stalick (1994, p7)) although more in the context of power being a key dimension as opposed to being a culture type.
The conclusion from this chapter and the previous 2, is that there is a polarisation of views with regard to culture and BPR as shown in table 4.3 and figure 4.1. The protagonists, predominately management consultants, appear to see organisations as systems with BPR another, a-be-it significant, change to be systematically implemented. At best cultural aspects are seen as an enabler to be directed towards the organisat6ion's new goals, at worst as an inhibitor, to be neutralised, for example through forced or coerced redundancies.
Academics take a broader view but the antagonists among them see failure to consider the human dimension as the reason for a supposedly high failure rate. Whilst they may also see culture as an inhibitor, they would see this as natural part of a human social system, and something to be seen in a positive light (e.g. diversity).
Other viewpoints would take a middle stand, emphasising a need to equally manage the system and human aspects within what is a complex change management issue. They would emphasise the importance of power and politics within the organisation.
....... continues after the table and diagram
|Culture Attribute||Primary View||Other Views|
|Protagonists||Role of Culture||Enabler||Outcome, Inhibitor|
|Variable or Root||Internal Variable||External variable|
|Level||Behaviour Patterns||Artefacts through to Beliefs and Assumptions|
|Organisation seen as||System||Teams; Power bases.|
|Leaders role is to||Set Environment & Behaviour Patterns||Manage, Visionary|
|Antagonists||Role of Culture||Inhibitor||Deterministic, Driver|
|Variable or Root||Root Metaphor||Internal or External Variable|
|Level||Assumptions an6d Belief, Values||Behavioural Norms & Patterns|
|Organisation seen as||Social units|
|Leaders role is to||n/a; People are leaders|
Table 4.3 Views of Culture with respect to BPR
Figure 4.1 Position of BPR Protagonists and Antagonists re Culture's Attributes. Negative views in italics
With so much at stake, both in the business and the reputations of the protagonists, and the claimed and actual benefits to organisations, the subject of BPR is one that is likely to be with us for some time. Given the variance in thinking as to whether culture is a material factor in success or failure, and the difficulties highlighted in chapter 2 of measuring culture, then meaningful, definitive, and (hopefully) objective research will no doubt be the province of major business school and other academic institutes. What then could this dissertation bring to the debate?
Appendix 2 describes 6 issues that the above literature research has highlighted:
Each is described together with a hypothesis, value in researching and potential research problems.
After consideration as to the risks and practicalities of producing something worthwhile within this dissertation, it was decided to undertake issue 5. This concerns an hypothesis that organisations attempt to change their culture by manipulating internal environments (e.g. artefacts) rather than by trying to change employee's inner assumptions and beliefs. The approach and details of the research is addressed in the next chapter.
1) Hammer has since conceded that there is a critical management of people angle to reengineering and that CSC Index is rushing to provide guidelines (Vitiello, 1993, pp46-47)
To Chapter 5. Preliminary Research
[Front Page] [Executive
[Content] [1 Introduction]
[2 BPR] [3 Culture]
[4 BPR & Culture]
[5 Preliminary Research] [6 Findings] [7 Summary] [8 Conclusions] [Appendices] [Bibliography]
Original report: January 1995 This page created: April 1998 © Managing Change 1995,96,97,98 www.managingchange.com
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