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Communication-focused business process redesign: assessing a communication flow optimization model through an action research study at a defense contractor

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1 Author(s)
N. Kock ; Coll. of Bus. & Econ., Lehigh Univ., Bethlehem, PA, USA

It can be argued that process redesign has a long history, going as far back as Taylor's (1911) scientific management and reaching its peak in the 1990s with business process re-engineering. Throughout most of its history, operational-level approaches to process redesign maintained a focus on "workflows," or the chronological flows of activities in processes. It is argued in this paper that while this makes some sense in materials transformation processes whose final product usually is a tangible manufactured item (e.g., a car engine), this orientation is fundamentally inconsistent with the communication-intensive nature of the vast majority of processes found in organizations today. This paper attempts to show that a focus on communication flow representations and methods is likely to lead to better process redesign outcomes than is a focus on representations and methods in connection with "workflows." It does so by developing a set of research questions based on the communication flow optimization model and answering those questions in the context provided by three process redesign projects conducted at a defense contractor in the US.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 1 )