BPR and Organisational Culture
This chapter reviews the data analysis performed upon the returned questionnaires, draws conclusions, assesses whether the hypothesis is valid, and identifies the implications for organisations undertaking BPR.
This chapter makes reference to the graphical output from the data analysis which is displayed in Appendix 11 - Data Analysis. Each graph is numbered within each question. The findings are based on the 25 of the 33 responses that were considered to be BPR projects. Where, there were fewer that 25 respondents answering a particular question then the graphs indicates the numbers by the use of the "N=n" notation.
The first set of analysis concerns the individual questions and provides a picture of the respondents, their organisations and their BPR projects. The second set consists of correlations between these questions in-order to test the hypothesis and to try to discover the underlying variables that have influenced the various outcomes.
In this second set, no reliable statistical mathematical correlations could be generated from the data. This is presumed to be because of the small sample population, though it could be that there are very weak or non existent correlations. The correlations are therefore based on visual assessment of various graphs. The findings should therefore be considered tentative.
Half the respondents (13) were senior managers (e.g. Director, AGMs, CEOs) and slightly less were at project management or department level (Graph 2 Position of Respondents). Almost half were BPR sponsors and a third were Project Managers or Project Directors. The rest were other or unknown (Graph 3 Role of Respondents). Using the job titles and roles the respondents background was conjectured. A third were unidentified in the sense they were project managing the BPR project, a quarter were from an analytical background of IT or Quality Management, whilst the remaining 40% were from general management, HR or finance.
This survey provides a senior management view but one that has, almost exclusively, a vested interest in a successful BPR project. They are a group that is likely to be concerned with business benefits (ends) rather than means. Thus the answers can be expected to be biased to the positive in respect of their projects' achievements.
Whilst financial and banking institutions formed over 40% of the target organisations the response from these was over 55% with manufacturing being particularly under-responsive. (Graph 1 Identified, Sent, & Received by Industry Sector & Graph 4 Analysis by Industry Sector). This, no doubt accentuated the average number of employees at 15,000 - for instance one banking organisation had over 100,000 employees and another 80,000 (Graph 5 Total UK Employees). Two thirds of organisations though had under 10,000.
Our sample is thus biased towards the 'paper factories' that are currently undergoing radical structural changes and 'down-sizing'. A situation which is, or will, impact many staff.
Only 7 of the BPR projects had completed with another 17 in-progress (Graph 1 Dates of BPR Projects). Some of these had a completion date as far ahead as 1998. The average duration of completed projects was 19 months, but those in-progress had already run for an average of 16 months and the average of those uncompleted projects with a planned end date was 30 months (Graph 2 Duration of BPR Projects). Only 4 completed projects and 5 planned ones were for a duration of 2 or less years. With two thirds of the respondents never having completed a BPR project within the UK, and the remained undertaken few projects, estimation must be problematic (Graph 3 Number of Previous BPR Projects).
Lengthening times may indicate more ambitious projects or the increasing experience of practitioners indicating a need for more conservative timescales.
Mention has already been made of how the 12 elements relating to organisational change were related to the McKinsey 7 S elements. Graph 1 (No. 7 S Elements Extensively Changed) shows that most organisations were changing 6 or all 7 of the elements and that the changes were overall spread nearly equally across all the different elements (Graph 2 McKinsey 7 S Elements Extensively Changed). 88% of respondents state that they are extensively changing their organisations' shared values and beliefs (i.e. organisational culture). This is markedly higher than Willie's (1989) findings where only 29% of organisations instigated a cultural change programme. Possibly the difference is because Willie's survey was concerned about organisations reacting to an external event, whereas BPR is probably less reactive and more strategic. In this BPR survey, 88% said that their BPR programme was driven by business strategy (i.e. >= 50% scope) and 80% extensively (>=75%).
All bar 3 organisations changed their type of structure (Graph 3 Change in Organisational Structure (1)). Over half were moving from hierarchical to process with an additional number mentioning that a matrix structure was an intermediate step to a process organisation. Another quarter were moving from hierarchical to decentralised. A number were moving to mixed structures (e.g. to hierarchical and process). In these few cases the graph counts each element separately). Using a 4 quadrant model derived from the definitions of the various organisational structure types (see Appendix 8) it can be seen that there is a clear shift towards a more result oriented and fluid structures. Despite nearly all the respondents confirming they were implementing BPR, it can be seen that that almost one third has yet to restructure along process lines.
Hierarchical structures are often associated with role management styles. It is therefore not surprising that well over two thirds were moving away from a role style but there was variance in what they were moving to (Graph 5 Change in Management Style (1)). Three quarters of these were choosing task with most of the remained choosing directive and some self-management. Those who were not already using a role style were totally directive and these were moving to either task or self-management. Overall 17 of the 25 moved to task, 3 to directive, and 5 to self management. Only 2 organisations hadn't changed their management style, chosing to remain with the role style. Using Harrison's (1972) Culture Quadrants (see chapter 3) it can be clearly seen that with these changes there is a marked shift towards low centralisation and a further shift towards high formalisation (Graph 6 Change in Management Style (2)). Whilst the former is associated with our earlier finding concerning the impact of BPR, the lesser shift to self management suggest a management that is reluctant to release the reins and to trust the staff to manage themselves. Yet if the widely reported reduction in staff numbers are indeed mostly at the managerial level, then staff will have to take greater responsibility for self management.
Many respondents seemed reluctant to provide information on the impact of these changes on staff numbers. Those that did showed a decrease ranging from 0% to 60%, with an average of 16% (Graph 7 Extent of Staff Impact and Involvement). The proportion of employees involved in BPR ranged from 100% of all the UK staff down to a mere 1% with an average of 35%.
These graphs give a strong indication of extensive and radical change amongst respondents, both in scale and scope. Whilst throwing away the old hierarchical style, organisations seem reluctant to fully embrace the self management often proposed by BPR advocates. Rather, it appears that a more cautious intermediate stage whereby direction by management is initially replacing direction by rules and procedures. De-layering is of course a well know current phenomena associated with organisational restructuring. The percentages of staff being laid off concurs with that reported in the press. Though not highlighted in this survey, it is well known that middle management is particularly under attack.
The analysis of this question refers to change techniques that are extensively used. Extensively is defined as the techniques being addressed to 75% or more of the staff in the BPR areas or being used monthly or more frequently.
Graph 1 (Types of Techniques Extensively Used) shows the wide range of techniques being used, although some are used much more than other. Getting 'line staff active in process redesign' is the top choice closely followed by 'performance related pay scheme', 'appraisal scheme assessing new behaviour', and the 'use of new procedures, rules & regulations'. This latter item is surprising given the move away from a role management style, but could indicate a rewriting and slimming down of antiquated, bureaucratic procedures. The least used techniques were group and individual therapy which address the inner layers of the cultural model previously described.
The Senior Management respondents find management in the BPR areas (middle management?) rather wanting. The average proportion performing to the required level was just 62%.
The emphasis on the outer, more visible, layers is clearly illustrated in Graph 2 (Groups of Techniques Extensively Used (1)). Each of the 15 techniques of question 3 (recall that 2 items in question 3 were processed under question 2), were previously related to the 5 layers in the cultural model (they run from top to bottom of Graph 1, in groups of three, from the harder outer layers to the softer inner layers). The literature research identified that many social scientists suggest that there is an over emphasis on the outer layers. Whilst this research also show this, the use of Artefacts is less pronounced than Behavioural Patterns. Organisations choose on average 2.4 techniques from the two harder outer layers together as opposed to 1.4 for the two softer inner layers - counting Behavioural Norms as neutral.
The 15 techniques were further categorised into those that are directed from management to employee (e.g. communications) and those where information, ideas, and feelings flow in the reverse direction. Management to employee techniques out number the reverse by 2 to 1 (Graph 3 Groups of Techniques Extensively Used (2)). Whilst it is recognised that there twice as many of the former than the latter, this doesn't necessarily mean such techniques should be used. Their existence may well reflect a historic use associated with an autocratic management style.
The 15 techniques were also categorised into those that were passive (e.g. communication) and those that were more coercive (i.e. the 3 techniques associated with Behavioural Patterns such as performance related pay) (Graph 4 Groups of Techniques Extensively Used (3)). The use of the passive techniques out numbered the co-ercive ones, but at 2:1 this is less than in the selection list where passive techniques out-numbered coercive ones by 4:1. This suggests an emphasis towards coercive techniques. As noted earlier, Schein advocates the more coercive techniques to 'shake up' mature organisations which is the profile of most of the respondent organisations.
Finally organisations were also assessed as to whether they were concentrating on Schein's Primary or Secondary change techniques. As Graph 5 Groups of Techniques Extensively Used (4) shows, both were equally used, which suggests no particular tendency. With Schein's primary activities being leader oriented, it suggests that leadership is not particularly strong in the respondent organisations.
Many organisations were using a range of techniques (Graph 6 Range of Techniques Extensively Used) ranging from hard to soft, though most of the softer techniques were concerned with communications. The number of techniques used varied widely, with the 4 using 0 and also 4 using 10, with the average being 5 (Graph 7 Number of Techniques being Extensively Used). These variances suggest no clear consensus as to the number of technique to use and the use of softer techniques could simply be a traditional reliance on the written newsletter. The issue of employee performance as a result of using these techniques is addressed latter.
Overall, organisations emphasised harder, coercive, and management to employee techniques over the softer, passive, and employee to management ones. The earlier literature research highlights that these different techniques may well have a different impact on employee behaviour, responsiveness, feelings, and attitudes.
Respondents were able to select a number of reasons. Two reasons, 'speed of implementation and results', and 'actions that staff could easily see', related to the hypothesis. The two other reasons, 'gain staff commitment', and 'previously used to good effect', plus 'other' were offered as 'good' alternatives. As Graph 1 (Reasons given for using technique) shows, 'staff commitment' was the most chosen technique with 'speed of implementation' next and the other two choices being equally chosen. Thus the hypothesis appears to be invalid.
This is further demonstrated in Graph 2 (Who suggests what techniques). Recall that the hypothesis suggested that it was consultants that recommended the more visible and more action oriented techniques. Graph 2 shows completely the opposite. Whether consultants were involved or not, then visibility ('staff see') and speed are the least chosen techniques. Respondents replies show that suggestions came from a wide variety of sources except for competitors (Graph 3 Suggested by (1)). Given BPR's emphasis on empowerment, then the proportion of suggestions from staff appears low.
Although nearly three quarters used consultants only half the organisations said that the most used techniques had been suggested by consultants (Graph 4 Suggested by (2)). [Because many respondents only selected one 'Suggested by' item, possibly because of the question wording, this statement may more accurately be stated as: .... primarily suggested by consultants]. Where consultants were used, BPR consultants predominated followed by Change Management consultants (Graph 5 Types of Consultants Used). Organisations appeared to be avoiding the extremes of the very analytical IT & O&M consultants on the one hand, and those consultants addressing the human aspects on the other. 6 organisations used 2 types of consultants and one even used 5 types.
The results from this question seems to give rise to more questions than are answered. Do most organisations see BPR and Change Management consultants addressing the whole hard-soft spectrum, or do they only perceive certain parts of the spectrum as needing to be addressed? Are the type and range of techniques decided before calling in consultants or are they suggested by the consultants? Are staff being really empowered? Why are the soft techniques avoided? Is it lack of demonstrable proof of results, poor image, poor selling by the specialist consultants, a tendency to stick to previously used techniques, etc. etc.?
Respondents could select up to 8 areas of employee behavioural improvements marking each as Lots or Some improvement. 'Acquisition and use of new knowledge and skills', 'co-operative team working', 'customer focus', and 'results oriented' were the most chosen areas for Lots of improvements. (Graph 1 New staff behaviour). All these are signs of a success BPR outcome. However, the lower numbers selecting 'acquisition and use of decision making powers', and 'acceptance and use of responsibility' suggests that 'empowerment', a much vaunted attribute of BPR, is slow to be taken up by employees. This could be due to lack of Commitment to the organisation, which also scored the lowest for Lots of improvements.
Equally low was 'creation of innovative ideas'. This is surprising given that Q3 showed a high degree of line staff actively involved in the design of the new processes. Again, various hypothesis could be established for this apparent inconsistency (e.g. a link to lack of commitment, staff ideas being rejected, staff being restricted to the details, etc.). Given that BPR is supposed to be all about starting from a 'clean sheet of paper' then lack of innovation should be a major concern.
Almost half (8 out of 20) reported less than 5 Lots and 5 Somes (Graph 2 Extent of Change in Staff Behaviour). A possible correlation between results and the elapsed time of BPR projects, is investigated later.
However, in all this analysis, what is not known is the content of the technique (e.g. what was communicated), the aims and expectations of the management (e.g. was innovation important), and the extent of the change (e.g. was an autocratic management style prevalent beforehand). As Pettigrew asserts, the context of the situation could well have a bearing. For example, the recession could well emphasise a need for results and for customer focus, and the literature research has already emphasised the historic western preoccupation with hard measures and financial performance.
However, respondents were told to ignore any areas of improvement that didn't apply but of those 20 who did answer this question, they selected on average over 7 (4.1 Lots + 3.2 Somes) of the 8 choices (Graph 3 Average Employee improvements per Organisations). This suggests improvement in all areas are expected.
Respondents were decidedly 'up-beat' when it came to the question as to whether employees values and beliefs could be changed to align them to the organisation (Graph 1 Can values & beliefs be changed?). 88% said they agreed or strongly agreed it could. Given the senior management composition of the respondents this was perhaps a likely response - would any management admit to not being in control of a resource? Thus respondents were asked to qualify or comment on their answer.
Over 17 qualifications were given by 12 respondents. Those selected 2 or more times include: 'Time available' or 'takes time' (6 respondents), 'needs co-ordination of many related changes' (3), 'depends on current beliefs' (2), and 'need to involve people' (2) (Graph 2 Qualifications chosen more than 2 times). Other than the need for time there appears little consensus as to other factors or requirements. This has recently been confirmed by Massey (1994) who reported from a 'Managing Corporate Transformation' conference that "One of the main messages ... is that there are no hard and fast rules about [cultural] change ...".
In order to see whether the above positive views were based on actual experience of BPR or were more of an anticipation, the responses were analysed according to whether the organisations had complete their BPR project or not (Graph 1 Can Values and Beliefs be Changed?). The results suggest that respondents feel the outcome of their BPR projects to be very positive in changing employee's values and beliefs, exceeding the expectations of those who have yet to complete. Only one respondent seems to have had a negative outcome.
Graph 1 asks the question "Do companies with more extensive change (Q2) use more extensive change techniques (Q3)?" The graphical results clearly suggests this is not the case. A number of respondents commented that they were only in the initial stages of their BPR project and had not yet introduced some of the techniques. Whether use of such techniques was definitely planned or regarded as a contingency in case employees under performed is not clear. Given the time lag before many of these techniques produce behavioural changes, then a contingency approach may be inappropriate.
It was considered that the extensive down-sizing may have either a negative impact on employee performance (low morale) or possibly a positive impact (threat of being next out). Mapping the number of Lots or Some improvements to the degree of employee reductions showed no correlation.
Graph 1 asks the question 'Do organisations using consultant suggestions and going for speed & staff visibility (Q4) use more extensive hard or soft change techniques (Q3)?'
There was no organisation that relied exclusively on consultants for its suggestions and who aimed for speed and staff visibility. The graph suggests that those who did use consultants alongside other sources and who aimed for speed and staff visibility, tended to use about the same number of soft and hard extensive techniques. Those that relied only on other sources, and again who aimed for speed and staff visibility, tended to use more hard extensive techniques than soft ones.
Graph 2 asks the question 'Do organisations using consultant suggestions and going for staff commitment and previous experience (Q4) use more extensive hard or soft change techniques (Q3)?' In this case there were organisations that relied exclusively on consultants for its suggestions, and these used more extensive hard than soft techniques. In the other cases the results were the same as Graph 1.
Graph 3 just looks at the use of consultants and asks the question 'Do organisations using consultant suggestions (Q4) use more extensive hard or soft change techniques (Q3)?' Again consultants alone, or non consultants alone both, tended to use more extensive hard techniques than soft ones. Yet when together there were near equal numbers of each.
From these analyses, use of consultants does not appear to correlate to the types of techniques. The Graphs 3 & 4 of Question 4 (Suggested by (1) & (2)) highlight the wide variety of sources of the suggestions. It may be that the other sources are the influencing factor.
Graph 1 (Employee Improvements vs Duration) suggests that employee improvements do initially increase as project duration increases. This would tend to confirm that change techniques take time to have an effect. However, those projects of a duration greater than 2 1/2 years (30 months) show a reducing degree of improvement. Possibly management has become disgruntled that after such time improvements haven't been forthcoming, or that improvements have begun to be taken for granted.
Because different organisations have varying numbers of employees participating in the BPR programme, Graph 2 was produced (Employee Improvements per 1,000 BPR Employees vs Duration) but this suggests that absolute scale is not material. Possibly another factor, like the ratio of resources to numbers, is more important.
Graph 1 asks the question 'Do organisations with lots of employee improvements (Q5) have more extensive hard or soft change techniques (Q3)?' The results certainly suggest that this is so. The greater the reported improvements the more techniques that being used with extensive hard techniques out-numbering soft ones.
Graph 2 relates 'Number of Techniques Extensively Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)' Except for a few odd-ball case (zero extensive techniques yet 6 lots of improvements; 2 and 0; and 10 and 3), there is a clear set of two groups. Two thirds cluster in the 6 or under extensive techniques used and 4 or under lots of improvements. A quarter cluster around the 7 to 10 extensive techniques used and producing 5 or more lots of improvements. This suggests that to gain maximum improvements a large number of different techniques need to be used. The next graphs explore the type of techniques.
Graph 3 relates 'Number of Hard Techniques Extensively Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)' Results are similar to Graph 2 but in the following Graph 4 which relates 'Number of Soft Techniques Extensively Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)' there is less correlation. This suggests that it is the use of the hard techniques that brings the results.
Graph 5 relates 'Use of Hard but NO Soft Techniques Extensively Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)'. There are probably too few respondents just using hard techniques but again there is an indication that there are more employee improvements as the number of extensive techniques increases.
Graph 6 relates 'Use of Hard AND Soft Techniques Extensively Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)'. Here there is a clear clustering and correlation that respondents that used both hard and soft techniques produce more employee improvements.
Graph 7 relates 'Number Layers Addressed (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)'. There appears to be no correlation. However, there does appear to be some correlation between the range of techniques used and employee performance (Graph 8 "Range of Techniques Used (Q3) to Number of Employee Improvements (Q5)"). Range is defined as the difference between the hardest and the softest technique, that is the range of layers addressed. Given that most organisations address Behavioural Patterns, then the bigger the range the more likely that soft techniques will also be included.
Tentatively conclusions from all these analyses of type and number of techniques to employee improvements is that the more extensive techniques an organisation uses, then the more employee improvements that will result, provided that the range of techniques includes hard techniques. However, for best results organisation should include both hard and soft techniques.
This survey set out to discover, within the context of BPR involving significant organisational change:
Survey respondents were mostly from the financial services sectors which is under-going significant competitive pressures. These organisations are responding by implementing BPR and significant organisational restructuring. They are moving from traditional hierarchical structures to process, matrix and decentralised structures. Many are moving from a role to a directive management style, whilst others, already using a directive style, are moving to employee self management.
The management in these organisations firmly believe that employees beliefs and values can be changed. They use a range of techniques across all the layers of the defined cultural model, with an emphasis towards the harder techniques, especially the more coercive associated with establishing behavioural patterns. These include employee performance related pay, assessing employee behaviour within appraisal schemes, and through new procedures rules and regulations. Most of the techniques used emphasise management to employee communications and direction. This finding concurs with Alvesson's (1993, p43) assertion that such techniques are predominate amongst western business cultures. It also supports the post-modernists who assert that masculine management uses predominately hard techniques. However, given the lesser emphasis on artefacts and also the inclusion of a wide range of softer techniques, it doesn't support post-modernist's views that management are creating a sham culture.
Over half of the organisations did not report high levels of employee improvements. This may be due to many BPR projects having only just begun, as peak levels of improvement were recorded by projects of 2 to 3 years duration. Where management did report high levels of employee improvements they tended to use a larger number of cultural change techniques which always include hard techniques. Those with most improvement are also using soft techniques. This finding concurs with Andrews & Stalick (1994) suggestion that cultural elements from all levels need to be addressed and counter-acts those who suggest that action at specific levels is more effective. However, group organisational development and individual therapy techniques were hardly used. The emphasis on behavioural patterns to induce employees performance concurs with Johansson et al (1993) recommendation.
Most employee improvements were in the areas of acquisition and use of new knowledge and skills, co-operative team working, and customer focus. Empowerment (i.e. employee acceptance and use of decision making powers and responsibility), the creation of innovative ideas, and levels of commitment, were all low.
The objective of the research survey was to test the following hypothesis:
Whilst the survey indicates that management do in-fact concentrate primarily on techniques associated with changing behavioural patterns (though few involve the use of more visual artefacts), it was not proven that these are promoted by management consultants, or that they were chosen for being more visible, or for producing quicker results.
Management do believe that the inner elements of values and beliefs can be changed. Whilst many qualified the statement, there was little consensus over the barriers to change other than it takes a long time. No respondent expressed concern over the ethics of trying to change employees values and beliefs.
Based on this preliminary research and tentative findings, organisations wishing to maximise employee behaviour as a result of implementing BPR would be advised to use a range of cultural change techniques involving both hard and soft techniques. The use of softer techniques will shift the emphasis away from the more coercive methods and from management to employee communications. Such a change of techniques could well have implications for management behaviour and style, and this in turn may require management training and education as well as a change of attitude.
To Chapter 7 Summary
[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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