BPR and Organisational Culture
This chapter further defines the issue to be investigated, including an assessment of its value, and information on other related research. Appendices contain the Terms of Reference (TOR) and associated documents, whilst the Research Profile section of this chapter describes the actual research investigation.
Does management think organisational culture can be changed? If so:
To test the following hypothesis:
Vast sums of money are being invested in BPR and the scale of the changes introduce significant risks. Inappropriate cultural change actions will harm both the organisations and their employees. Increased knowledge of cultural change from this preliminary research should therefore help management, management consultants and academics alike, to:
Chapter 4 outlined the previous limited research into BPR failure. In the UK both the BCS and the DTI have programmes that are investigating the organisational aspects of IT.
A new British Computer Society Information Systems Methodology Specialist Group (BCS ISM SG) has 100 members under the chair of Dr. Nimal Jayaratna of Heriot-Watt University. The group is focusing on how formal methods can be applied to analysing business process. In particular, a number of members are promoting the value of Soft Systems Methodologies (SSM) originally founded by Prof. Peter Checkland of University of Lancaster. Other members include Prof. Trevor Wood-Harper, a co-author of the cited paper by Vidgen.
Their current research includes determining how multiple perspectives [particularly soft ones, including culture] can be used in practice to support BPR; the use of SSM for stakeholder analysis [stakeholders would include employees]; what are the preconditions for radical rather than incremental change; does cultural feasibility have to be considered as a constraint outside of the influence of those engaging in BPR. Contact with the group indicates the current emphasis is on the techniques used within the analysis phase rather than during implementation.
The Department Trade and Industry (DTI) sponsors a special interest group "Organisational Aspects of IT" formed in 1989 under the chair of Prof. Chris Clegg, of Sheffield University. Their aim is to encourage debate and action on the wider organisational aspects of IT [including BPR] between users, researchers, etc.. A manifesto with 9 recommendations has been issued which promotes a user driven, non IT, approach to BPR; human & organisational objectives to be included; methods and tools to be developed and training & support to be provided; R&D to be undertaken. The committee has a bias towards social and behaviour scientists. Contact with the group suggests that many members have an antipathy to the concept of cultural change.
Appendix 3 defines the scope, assumptions, methods, instruments, procedure etc.. of the research. The details are defined as follows:
The research will focus on UK organisations which have completed a BPR implementation. The instruments used will be a questionnaire and follow-up interviews. Control variables will help correlate findings to BPR attributes. The questionnaire will be composed by reference to the type of findings required to test the hypothesis and answer the issue. They will be validated prior to use and potential respondents contacted personally prior to distribution. Data will be processed by spreadsheet and tabular and graphical results produced.
The CD-ROM search and other source material identified over 120 UK organisations either undertaking or having completed a BPR project. As expected there were no admissions of failure. 40 articles provided a contact name and additionally, in another 15 or so companies, contact was made with the Personnel Director. Only 3 companies decline to receive a questionnaire. One on the grounds of lack of time, another that there were too many questionnaires, and a third on confidentiality grounds (that their change techniques were their competitive edge). 51 organisations were sent a questionnaire. In appendix 11, question 7, Graph 1 "Identified, Sent, & Received by Industry Sector" shows the industry sector of those identified, selected, and who responded.
33 organisations responded. This represented a 65% response rate and one quarter of the known 120 or so UK organisations that have or are involved with BPR. By implication, the survey is biased to those that have publicly acknowledge that they have completed or are undertaking BPR and who have had some success. Failures are naturally suppressed. Thus, if Hammer's 70% failure rate are to be believed, there are another 200+ UK organisations outside of this research group who have undertaken BPR and failed.
Most responses were 90% complete. Only one was completely unusable. Of the remainder, they were all usable by ensuring for each question that only those who had responded to that question were analysed
The 51 selected had a similar industry profile to the original 120 (Question 7 Graph 1 "Identified, Sent, & Received by Industry Sector"), with a bias towards financial institutions, but as the graph also shows, the 33 who responded had an even greater bias to financial institutions. A number of reasons can be conjectured for this. Many years ago manufacturing streamlined its processes with such techniques as TQM and JIT. Retailing has always been a slim, high volume, low margin / overheads business. Government has taken the privatisation and autonomous trusts route rather than first reform from within. Meanwhile the traditional financial sector has particularly suffered from the recession (e.g. low house sales) and together with the entrance of numerous new players, now has an over supply situation. Combined with a tradition of bureaucracy and hierarchical structures, with their attendant multiple layers, many analysts have long predicted the shake out that is now taking place within this sector.
There was also a bias to large companies because the original selection was taken from press and journal reports. Large companies will have both greater resources and a greater incentive for rationalisation. However, both of these bias will make the results of particular interest to similar companies in the financial sector.
The survey was concerned with organisations that had or were undertaking BPR. As has already been indicated, many organisational change projects have been given the label "BPR" when in fact they did not justify such a tag. The responses were therefore first analysed and separated into those who indicated significant change and those that didn't using the following criteria:
After this initial analysis, 25 of the 33 were considered to be BPR projects (76%) and the following findings are based on these 25.
No particular difficulties arose in producing, distributing, collating and processing the questionnaires. It just took more time than planned, particularly, making personal contacts and in producing all the various graphs. Despite the making of personal contacts and reminders, the response rate was lower than expected.
5 respondents were unable to complete question 5 concerning employee improvements because they felt it was too early to assess. 3 refused to disclose the number of employees (Q7) and 10 the number involved (Q2 part 3). All these were excluded from analysis involving those particular questions.
2 stated that a particular type of change was already in place. These were given a 25% rating on the basis that the organisation was presumed to have already adapted to the change. This had the effect of reducing the organisations chance of being classed as true BPR (i.e. subject to a number of simultaneous and significant organisational changes). Similarly, 4 had previously implemented particular change techniques. On the basis that they were continuing to reap the benefits of using these technique, they were given a 75% rating. This had the effect of increasing the chances that they were included amongst organisations using a wide range of techniques. Many organisations selected multiple new ("To") organisational structures and management styles (Q2 part 3). The analyses were amended to handle such cases.
If read fast, there was a possibility that Q4, on the source of suggestions for using the chosen change techniques, could have been misinterpreted. If true, this accounts for the fact that a large number of respondents (18) only selected one item from a list of choices. However, it is presumed that they selected the most important one in the list. The impact would be to understate secondary sources of suggestions.
The response rate, at over 65%, represents a significant proportion (28%) of the UK organisations that have declared themselves to have undertaken BPR. Combined with the high usability of the responses leads one to believe that the finding have a degree of validity, particularly in respect of the larger financial institutions. The next chapter reviews in detail the findings.
To Chapter 6 Findings
[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: March 2000 © Managing Change 1995,96,97,98,99,2000 www.managingchange.com
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