Date of Award

12-6-2006

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Balasubramaniam Ramesh - Chair

Second Advisor

Daniel Robey

Third Advisor

Mike Gallivan

Fourth Advisor

Sandeep Purao

Abstract

A major challenge to achieving business process agility is the fragmentation of business processes, especially in organizations with semiautonomous business units. This fragmentation manifests itself in the form of diversified business processes performing similar activities. To address this challenge and achieve synergies across business units, processes should be integrated. Extant research on business process management has not paid much attention to such integration. Motivated by this concern, the primary objectives of my research are: “1) to understand how integration of similar business processes is achieved by semiautonomous business units and 2) to develop a process modeling support system that can help find similarities among business process models to aid process designers and to empirically evaluate its effectiveness in supporting process modeling activities.” I use a two-phased approach to address above objectives. In the first phase, I draw upon the analytic concept of frames of reference to develop a socio-cognitive process model to understand cognitive processes of stakeholders involved in the business process integration. This is done by analyzing the shifts in frame salience and frame congruence to enable the development of common-yet-tailorable business process. Data collection was conducted at ManCo, a Fortune 500 manufacturing company that had undertaken a process integration initiative in its multi-billion dollar supply chain across its five business units. Using qualitative data analysis, I identify four frame domains. Shifts in the frame salience and congruence highlight how, through a series of events, process stakeholders bring about integration. Frames domains identified in phase 1 highlight how individual business units’ perceptions differ. The use of diverse terminologies to refer to similar concepts added to the inability of process designers to reuse existing process models. These observations motivated the design research conducted in the second phase. I develop a prototype system, BPSimilar, which helps users to retrieve semantically similar process models. The approach to retrieve process models combines structural and semantic similarity-matching. The need for such a mechanism to speed up the model development was suggested by the case study. The effectiveness of BPSimilar for improving performance of users is evaluated in a qualitative study using verbal protocol analysis.

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