A unifying structure for thinking about processes — or sequences of work and tasks — that gives an integrated, dynamic picture of organizations and managerial behavior.

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Managers today space enamored of processes. It’s basic to see why. Many modern-day organizations space functional and also hierarchical; they experience from diverted departments, bad coordination, and minimal lateral communication. All also often, work-related is fragmented and also compartmentalized, and managers discover it difficult to obtain things done. Scholars have faced comparable problems in their research, struggling to define organizational functioning in other than static, very aggregated terms. For real progression to it is in made, the “proverbial ‘black box,’ the firm, needs to be opened and studied from within.”1

Processes carry out a most likely solution. In the broadest sense, they can be identified as collections of tasks and activities that together — and also only with each other — transform inputs into outputs. Within organizations, this inputs and outputs deserve to be as differed as materials, information, and also people. Usual examples of processes include brand-new product development, bespeak fulfillment, and customer service; less evident but equally legit candidates are resource allocation and also decision making.

Over the years, there have actually been a variety of process theories in the scholastic literature, yet seldom has actually anyone reviewed them systematically or in an integrated way. Procedure theories have appeared in organization theory, strategy management, to work management, group dynamics, and also studies of managerial behavior. The couple of scholarly efforts to tackle procedures as a collective phenomenon either have actually been tightly concentrated theoretical or methodological declaration or have focused primarily ~ above a single kind of procedure theory.2

Yet as soon as the theories space taken together, they administer a an effective lens for understanding organizations and management:

First, processes provide a convenient, intermediary level of analysis. Due to the fact that they covers diverse, interlinked tasks, they open up up the black color box of the firm there is no exposing experts to the “part-whole” problems that have actually plagued previously research.3 previous studies have tended to focus on either the trees (individual work or activities) or the forest (the company as a whole); they have actually not merged the two. A procedure perspective provides the essential integration, ensuring that the realities of work-related practice are connected explicitly to the firm’s in its entirety functioning.4

Second, a process lens provides brand-new insights into managerial behavior. Most studies have actually been straightforward explanation of time allocation, roles, and task streams, with couple of attempts come integrate activities into a coherent whole.


1. B.S. Chakravarthy and also Y. Doz, “Strategy process Research: concentrating on that company Self-Renewal,” Strategic monitoring Journal, volume 13, distinct issue, Summer 1992, pp. 5–14, quote from p. 6.

2. L.B. Mohr, Explaining Organizational actions (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1982); P.R. Monge, “Theoretical and Analytical problems in Studying business Processes,” organization Science, volume 1, number 4, 1990, pp. 406–430; A.H. Van de Ven, “Suggestions for researching Strategy Process: A research Note,” Strategic management Journal, volume 13, one-of-a-kind issue, Summer 1992, pp. 169–188; and A.H. Valve de Ven and G. Huber, “Longitudinal ar Research techniques for Studying processes of business Change,” organization Science, volume 1, number 3, 1990, pp. 213–219.

3. A.H. Van de Ven, “Central difficulties in the management of Innovation,” management Science, volume 32, number 5, 1986, pp. 590–606.

4. L.R. Sayles, Leadership: managing in real Organizations, second edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989).

5. C.P. Hales, “What Do managers Do?,” journal of management Studies, volume 23, number 1, 1986, pp. 88–115; and also H. Mintzberg, The Nature the Managerial work (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).

6. because that discussions of processes in the high quality literature, see: H.J. Harrington, Business process Improvement (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991); E.J. Kane, “IBM’s Quality focus on the organization Process,” quality Progress, volume 19, April 1986, pp. 24–33; E.H. Melan, “Process Management: A Unifying Framework,” nationwide Productivity Review, volume 8, 1989, number 4, pp. 395–406; R.D. Moen and also T.W. Nolan, “Process Improvement,” top quality Progress, volume 20, September 1987, pp. 62–68; and also G.D. Robson, continuous Process Improvemen (New York: free Press, 1991). Because that discussions of processes in the reengineering literature, see: T.H. Davenport, process Innovation (Boston: Harvar business School Press, 1993); M. Hammer and also J. Champy, Reengineering the copy, group (New York: Harper Business, 1993); and T.A. Stewart,”Reengineeering: The Hot new Managing Tool,” Fortune, 23 august 1993, pp. 40–48.

7. M. Hammer, “Reengineering Work: don’t Automate, Obliterate,” Harvard organization Review, volume 68, July–August 1990, pp. 104–112.

8. J.D. Blackburn, “Time-Based Competition: White-Collar Activities,” business Horizons, volume 35, July–August 1992, pp. 96–101.

9. E.H. Melan, “Process management in Service and Administrative Operations,” top quality Progress, volume 18, June 1985, pp. 52–59.

10. Davenport (1993), chapter 7; Hammer and also Champy (1993), chapter 3; Harrington (1991), chapter 6; and Kane (1986).

11. Hammer and also Champy (1993), pp. 108–109; Kane (1986); and Melan (1989), p. 398.

12. Moen and also Nolan (1987); and also Robson (1991).

13. Davenport (1993), pp. 10–15; and also Hammer and also Champy (1993), pp. 32–34.

14. T.H. Davenport and also N. Nohria, “Case Management and also the Integration of Labor,” Sloan administration Review, volume 35, Winter 1994, pp. 11–23, quote indigenous p. 11.

15. I. Price, “Aligning People and Processes during Business-Focused change in BP Exploration,” Prism, fourth quarter, 1993, pp. 19–31.

16. Kane (1986); and Melan (1985) and (1989).

17. H. Gitlow, S. Gitlow, A. Oppenheim, and also R. Oppenheim, Tools and Methods because that the improvement of quality (Homewood, Illinois: Irwin, 1989), thing 8.

18. P.F. Schlesinger, V. Sathe, L.A. Schlesinger, and also J.P. Kotter, Organization: Text, Cases, and Readings ~ above the management of Organization architecture and adjust (Homewood, Illinois: Irwin, 1992), pp. 106–110.

19. J. Browning, “The strength of process Redesign,” McKinsey Quarterly, volume 1, number 1, 1993, pp. 47–58; J.R. Galbraith, Organization design (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1977), pp. 118–119; and B.P. Shapiro, K. Rangan and J.J. Sviokla, “Staple you yourself to an Order,” Harvard organization Review, volume 70, July–August 1992, pp. 113–122.

20. for example, see: A. March and also D.A. Garvin, “Arthur D. Little, Inc.” (Boston: Harvard company School, case no. 9-396-060, 1995).

21. K.E. Weick, The society Psychology of Organizing, 2nd edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1979), p. 34.

22. S.C. Wheelwright and K.B. Clark, Revolutionizing Product advancement (New York: free Press, 1992).

23. C.I. Barnard, The features of the executive (Cambridge: Harvard college Press, 1938), pp. 185–189, 205–206; and H.A. Simon, bureaucratic Behavior, third edition (New York: cost-free Press, 1976), pp. 96–109, 220–228.

24. L.A. Hill, coming to be a Manager ( Boston: Harvard business School Press, 1992), pp. 20–21.

25. for reviews, see: J.L. Bower and Y. Doz, “Strategy Formulation: A Social and also Political Process,” in D.H. Schendel and also C.H. Hofer, eds., Strategic administration (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), pp. 152–166; and A.S. Huff and also R.K. Reger, “A testimonial of Strategic procedure Research,” newspaper of Management, volume 13, number 2, 1987, pp. 211–236.

26. H. Mintzberg, D. Raisinghani, and also A. Théorêt, “The framework of Unstructured Decision Processes,” administrative Science Quarterly, volume 21, June 1976, pp. 246–275; P.C. Nutt, “Types of organizational Decision Processes,” bureaucratic Science Quarterly, volume 29, September 1984, pp. 414–450; and also E. Witte, “Field research on complex Decision-Making procedures — The phase Theorem,” global Studies the Management and also Organization, volume 2, Summer 1972, pp. 156–182.

27. Witte (1972), p. 179.

28. Mintzberg et al. (1976); and also Nutt (1984).

29. For studies on resources budgeting, see: R.W. Ackerman, “Influence the Integration and also Diversity on the investment Process,” administrative Science Quarterly, volume 15, September 1970, pp. 341–351; and also J.L. Bower, controlling the resource Allocation procedure (Boston: Harvard service School, division of Research, 1970). For studies on foreign investments, see: Y. Aharoni, The foreign Investment Decision procedure (Boston: Harvard organization School, department of Research, 1966). For researches on strategy planning, see: P. Haspeslagh, “Portfolio Planning: Uses and also Licivicpride-kusatsu.nets,” Harvard service Review, volume 60, January–February 1982, pp. 58–74; and R. Simons, “Planning, Control, and also Uncertainty: A procedure View,” in W.J. Bruns, Jr. And also R.S. Kaplan, eds., bookkeeping and Management: field Study Perspectives (Boston: Harvard business School Press, 1987), pp. 339–367. For research studies on interior corporate venturing, see: R.A. Burgelman, “A process Model of internal Corporate Venturing in the Diversified major Firm,” bureaucratic Science Quarterly, volume 28, June 1983, pp. 223–244; and also R.A. Burgelman, “Strategy Making as a Social finding out Process: The case of internal Corporate Venturing,” Interfaces, volume 18, number 3, 1988, pp. 74–85. For studies on business exit, see: R.A. Burgelman, “Fading Memories: A process Theory that Strategic business Exit in Dynamic Environments,” bureaucratic Science Quarterly, volume 39, march 1994, pp. 24–56.

30. Bower (1970).

31. G.T. Allison, significance of Decision (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); I.L. Janis, victim of Groupthink (Boston: houghton Mifflin, 1972); L.J. Bourgeois, III and also K.M. Eisenhardt, “Strategic Decision processes in High-Velocity Environments: Four cases in the Microcomputer Industry,” management Science, volume 34, number 7, 1988, pp. 816–835; K.M. Eisenhardt, “Speed and also Strategic Choice: exactly how Managers accelerate Decision Making,” California management Review, volume 32, feather 1990, pp. 39–54; J.W. Fredrickson and T.R. civicpride-kusatsu.netchell, “Strategic Decision Processes: Comprehensiveness and Performance in an market with an unstable Environment,” Academy of management Journal, volume 27, number 2, 1984, pp. 399–423; J.W. Fredrickson, “The Comprehensiveness of strategy Decision Processes: Extension, Observations, Future Directions,” Academy of management Journal, volume 27, number 4, 1984, pp. 445–466; and also I. Nonaka and also J.K. Johansson, “Organizational learning in Japanese Companies,” in R. Lamb and P. Shrivastava, eds., developments in strategy Management, volume 3 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1985), pp. 277–296.

32. Janis (1972).

33. A.C. Amason, “Distinguishing the effects of Functional and Dysfunctional problem on strategy Decision Making: resolving a Paradox because that Top management Teams,” Academy of monitoring Journal, volume 39, number 1, 1996, pp. 123–148; D.M. Schweiger, W.R. Sandberg, and also J.W. Ragan, “Group approaches for enhancing Strategic Decision Making,” Academy of management Journal, volume 29, number 1, 1986, pp. 51–71; and also D.M. Schweiger, W.R. Sandberg, and also P.L. Rechner, “Experimental effects of Dialectical Inquiry, Devil’s Advocacy, and also Consensus viewpoints to strategy Decision Making,” Academy of management Journal, volume 32, number 4, 1989, pp. 745–772.

34. Janis (1972), pp. 146–149.

35. Bourgeois and Eisenhardt (1988).

36. E.H. Schein, process Consultation: Its role in company Development, second edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1988), pp. 17–19.

37. D.G. Ancona and D.A. Nadler, “Top Hats and also Executive Tales: developing the an elderly Team,” Sloan administration Review, volume 31, loss 1989, pp. 19–28; and also D.C. Hambrick, “Top management Groups: A theoretical Integration and Reconsideration the the ‘Team’ Label,” in B.M. Staw and also L.L. Cummings, eds., study in organizational Behavior, volume 16 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1994), pp. 171–214.

38. Schein (1988), p. 21.

39. Ibid., pp. 22–39.

40. O. Hauptman, “Making interaction Work,” Prism, second quarter, 1992, pp. 71–81; and also D. Krackhardt and J.R. Hanson, “Informal Networks: The firm behind the Chart,” Harvard business Review, volume 71, July–August 1993, pp. 104–111.

41. Ancona and also Nadler (1989), p. 24; Schein (1988), p. 50.

42. D. McGregor, The experienced Manager (New York: McGraw-Hill. 1967), pp. 173–174; and also Schein (1988), pp. 57–58, 81–82.

43. R.L. Daft and G.P. Huber, “How institutions Learn: A communication Framework,” in S.B. Bacharach and also N. DiTomaso, eds., study in the Sociology that Organizations, volume 5 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1987), pp. 1–36; C.M. Fiol and also M.A. Lyles, “Organizational Learning,” Academy of management Review, volume 10, number 4, 1985, pp. 803–813; G.P. Huber, “Organizational Learning: The Contributing Processes and the Literatures,” company Science, volume 2, number 1,1991, pp. 88–115; B. Levitt and also J.G. March, “Organizational Learning,” annual Review of Sociology, volume 14, 1988, pp. 319–340; and P. Shrivastava, “A Typology of Organizational learning Systems,” newspaper of management Studies, volume 20, number 1, 1983, pp. 7–28.

44. P.M. Brenner, “Assessing the discovering Capabilities of an Organization” (Cambridge, Massachusetts: civicpride-kusatsu.net Sloan school of Management, unpublished master’s thesis, 1994); Daft and also Huber (1987), pp. 24–28; D.A. Garvin, “Building a finding out Organization,” Harvard company Review, volume 71, July–August 1993, pp. 78–91; Levitt and March (1988), p. 320; and E.C. Nevis, A.J. DiBella, and J.M. Gould, “Understanding organizations as finding out Systems,” Sloan monitoring Review, volume 37, Winter 1995, pp. 73–85.

45. Nevis et al. (1995), p. 76.

46. T. Kiely, “The Idea Makers,” modern technology Review, 96, January 1993, pp. 32–40; M.A. Cusumano and R.W. Selby, Microsoft secrets (New York: totally free Press, 1995); Garvin (1993); J. Simpson, L. Field, and also D.A. Garvin, “The Boeing 767: From ide to manufacturing (A)” (Boston: Harvard organization School, instance 9-688-040, 1988); R.C. Camp, Benchmarking (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: ASQC top quality Press, 1989); and R.E. civicpride-kusatsu.nettelstaedt, Jr., “Benchmarking: how to learn from Best-in-Class Practices,” nationwide Productivity Review, volume 11, Summer 1992, pp. 301–315; A. De Geus, “Planning as Learning,” Harvard service Review, volume 66, March–April 1988, pp. 70–74; Huber (1991), pp. 105–107; Levitt and March (1988), pp. 326–329; and also J.P. Walsh and G.R. Ungson, “Organizational Memory,” Academy of management Review, volume 16, number 1, 1991, pp. 57–91.

47. Shrivastava (1983), p. 16.

48. Bourgeois and Eisenhardt (1988); and Eisenhardt (1990).

49. B. Blumenthal and also P. Haspeslagh, “Toward a definition of that company Transformation,” Sloan administration Review, volume 35, feather 1994, pp. 101–106.

50. A.M. Pettigrew, “Longitudinal ar Research: Theory and also Practice,” company Science, volume 1, number 3, 1990, pp. 267–292, quote native p. 270.

51. valve de Ven (1992), p. 80.

52. van de Ven and also Huber (1990).

53. C.J.G. Gersick, “Revolutionary readjust Theories: A Multilevel expedition of the Punctuated Equilibrium Paradigm,” Academy of management Review, volume 16, number 1, 1991, pp. 10–36.

54. For research studies on creation, see: D.N.T. Perkins, V.F. Nieva, and E.E. Lawler III, regulating Creation: The challenge of structure a brand-new Organization (New York: Wiley, 1983); S.B. Sarason, The production of Settings and the Future cultures (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1972); and A.H. Van de Ven, “Early Planning, Implementation, and also Performance of brand-new Organizations,” in J.R. Kimberly, R.H. Miles, and associates, The organizational Life bike (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1980), pp. 83–134. For research studies on growth, see: W.H. Starbuck, ed., business Growth and also Development: Selected Readings (Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1971). For studies on transformation, see: J.R. Kimberly and R.E. Quinn, eds., new Futures: The challenge of controlling Corporate Transitions (Homewood, Illinois: Dow Jones-Irwin, 1984); A.M. Mohrman, Jr., S.A. Mohrman, G.E. Ledford, Jr., T.G. Cummings, E.E. Lawler III, and associates, large Organizational readjust (San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989). For research studies on decline, see: D.C. Hambrick and R.A. D’Aveni, “Large that company Failures together Downward Spirals,” governmental Science Quarterly, volume 33, in march 1988, pp. 1–23; R.I. Sutton, “Organizational decline Processes: A Social psychological Perspective,” in B.M. Staw and also L.L. Cummings, eds., research in organizational Behavior, volume 12 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1990), pp. 205–253; and S. Venkataraman, A.H. Van de Ven, J. Buckeye, and R. Hudson, “Starting up in a rough Environment,” newspaper of organization Venturing, volume 5, number 5, 1990, pp. 277–295.

55. Gersick (1991), p. 10.

56. M. Crozier, The administrative Phenomenon (Chicago: college of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 196; Gersick (1991); H. Mintzberg, “Patterns in Strategy Formation,” management Science, volume 24, number 9, 1978, pp. 934–948; Starbuck (1971), p. 68; and also Van de Ven (1992).

57. L.E. Greiner, “Evolution and transformation as establishments Grow,” Harvard organization Review, volume 50, July–August 1972, pp. 37–46; and M.L. Tushman and P. Anderson, “Technological Discontinuities and Organizational Environments,” governmental Science Quarterly, volume 31, September 1986, pp. 439–465.

58. P. Selznick, management in administration (Berkeley: university of California Press, 1957), pp. 103–104.

59. Tushman, W.H. Newman, and E. Romanelli, “Convergence and Upheaval: regulating the Unsteady speed of organizational Evolution,” California administration Review, volume 29, fall 1986, pp. 29–44.

60. R.M. Kanter, B.A. Stein, and T.D. Jick, The an obstacle of Organizational change (New York: cost-free Press, 1992), pp. 375–377.

61. R. Beckhard and also R.T. Harris, organizational Transitions, 2nd edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1987); K. Lewin, ar Theory in Social science (New York: Harper, 1951); E.H. Schein, Professional education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972), pp. 76–84; and N. Tichy and also M. Devanna, The transformational Leader (New York: Wiley, 1986).

62. A. Abbott, “A inside wall on succession Methods,” company Science, volume 1, number 4, 1990, pp. 375–392; Monge (1990); A. Strauss and J. Corbin, Basics the Qualitative study (Newbury Park, California: Sage, 1990: chapter 9; and Witte (1972).

63. C. Perrow, “A framework for the Comparative evaluation of Organizations,” American Sociological Review, volume 32, number 2, 1967, pp. 194–208, quote native p. 195.

64. D.A. Garvin, “Leveraging processes for strategy Advantage, Harvard company Review, volume 73, September–October 1995, pp. 76–90.

65. See, because that example: Galbraith (1977); and Schlesinger, Sathe, Schlesinger, and Kotter (1992).

66. W.G. Astley and also A.H. Valve de Ven, “Central Perspectives and Debates in company Theory,” governmental Science Quarterly, volume 28, June 1983, pp. 245–273, quote native p. 263.

67. C.A. Bartlett and also S. Ghoshal, “Beyond the M-Form: toward a Managerial concept of the Firm,” Strategic management Journal, volume 14, distinct issue, Winter 1993, pp. 23–46.

68. Hales (1986); Mintzberg (1973); Sayles (1989); and also L.R. Sayles, Managerial habits (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964).

69. J. Pfeffer, “Understanding power in Organizations,” California monitoring Review, volume 34, Winter 1992, pp. 29–50, quote from p. 29.

70. Crozier (1964); J.G. March, “The business Firm together a political Coalition,” newspaper of Politics, volume 24, number 4, 1962, pp. 662–678; Sayles (1989); and M.L. Tushman, “A Political method to Organizations: A Review and Rationale,” Academy of management Review, volume 2, April 1977, pp. 206–216.

71. Hales (1986); J.P. Kotter, The general Managers (New York: complimentary Press, 1982); Mintzberg (1973); and also H.E. Wrapp, “Good supervisors Don’t Make policy Decisions,” Harvard company Review, volume 45, September–October 1967, pp. 91–99.

72. E.M. Leifer and also H.C. White, “Wheeling and also Annealing: Federal and also Multidivisional Control,” in J.F. Short, Jr., ed., The Social cloth (Beverly Hills, California: Sage, 1986), pp. 223–242.

73. Hill (1992); and Kotter (1982).

74. W. Skinner and also W.E. Sasser, “Managers v Impact: Versatile and Inconsistent,” Harvard service Review, volume 55, November–December 1977, pp. 140–148.

75. Examples incorporate The soul of a brand-new Machine, special Tom West, the leader of a project to build a new minicomputer in ~ Data basic Corporation, and My year with basic Motors, created by Alfred Sloan, that resurrected basic Motors in the an ext than two decades that he offered as the company’s chief executive and also chairman. See: J.T. Kidder, The soul of a New device (Boston: Little, Brown, 1981); and A.P. Sloan, Jr., My years with general Motors (New York: Doubleday, 1963).

76. Mintzberg (1973), p. 92; Sayles (1964), thing 9; and also Hales (1986).

77. Kotter (1982).

78. J.J. Gabarro, The Dynamics the Taking fee (Boston: Harvard organization School Press, 1987); and also R. Simons, “How brand-new Top managers Use control Systems as Levers of strategy Renewal,” Strategic monitoring Journal, volume 15, number 3, 1994, pp. 169–189.

79. Sayles (1964).

80. Hill (1992); Kotter (1982); F. Luthans, R.M. Hodgetts, and also S.A. Rosenkrantz, Real supervisors (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger, 1988); and Mintzberg (1973).

81. D.J. Isenberg, “How an elderly Managers Think,” Harvard business Review, volume 62, November–December 1984, pp. 80–90, quote from p. 84.

82. Sayles (1964).

83. J.E. Dutton and also S.J. Ashford, “Selling worries to top Management,” Academy of administration Review, volume 18, number 3, 1993, pp. 397–428; and I.C. MacMillan and also W.D. Guth, “Strategy Implementation and also Middle management Coalitions,” in R. Lamb and also P. Shrivastava, eds., advances in strategy Management, volume 3 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1985), pp. 233–254.

84. D.C. Hambrick and also A.A. Cannella, “Strategy Implementation together Substance and Selling,” Academy of administration Executive, volume 3, number 4, 1989, pp. 278–285.

85. Mintzberg (1973), pp. 67–71; and also Sayles (1964).

86. Isenberg (1984); and M.A. Lyles and also I.I. civicpride-kusatsu.netroff, “Organizational difficulty Formulation: one Empirical Study,” governmental Science Quarterly, volume 25, in march 1980, pp. 102–119.

87. Sayles (1964), pp. 170.

88. Mintzberg (1973), pp. 67–71.

89. D.A. Schön, The Reflective Practitioner (New York: basic Books, 1983), chapters 1, 2, and 8.

90. MacMillan and also Guth (1985); and Bower and also Doz (1979), pp.152–153.

91. Mohr (1982), p. 43.

92. E.D. Chapple and also L.R. Sayles, The measure up of monitoring (New York: Macmillan, 1961), pp. 49–50.

93. Garvin (1995).

94.

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E.H. Schein, procedure Consultation: Lessons for Managers and Consultants (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1987); and Schein (1988).