Employee Participation in Business Process Reengineering | Free Essay Example

Employee Participation in Business Process Reengineering

Words: 13760
Topic: Business & Economics


In a highly competitive business scenario, it has become imperative for the organizations to review the business systems and processes continually and implement changes to meet the market expectations. Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is one of the management techniques for bringing radical design and transformation of strategic organizational systems to improve organizational efficiency and productivity. The success of BPR initiatives needs wilful participation from the employees and the fullest commitment of the management to ensure the success of the BPR projects in any organization.

By engaging qualitative semi-structured interviews among selected employees of an engineering company in Saudi Arabia, this research evaluated the enablers of the success for the BPR project including employee participation and management commitment. This research was also extended to identifying the organizational factors, which impede the success of BPR projects to suggest best practices for successful implementation of BPR. The study finds that employee participation and management commitment are the most important factors that determine the success of BPR projects in XYZ Company.

The findings suggest the development and use of multi-functional teams of employees for the successful implementation of BPR. The study also recommends that the top management of XYZ Company should change their style of leadership and adopt innovative qualities for ensuring the success of BPR projects. The research finds that the introduction of teamwork among the employees will ensure the success of BPR and employee participation has a large influence on the success of BPR projects in the company.


For almost a decade the discussion on the role of business process reengineering (BPR) in ensuring improvement in the organizational performance has been continuing. However, until today a consensus on the role and scope of BRP has not evolved among the managers. This makes the study of the role of BPR in improving organizational performance and how it differs from other change initiatives like Total Quality Management differs, interesting and significant.

There has been a wide range of studies conducted on the implementation and effectiveness of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) to improve the overall performance of organizations. Effective leadership among other organizational, cultural and people issues has been one of the major determinants of the success or failure of BPR. BPR has a major impact on the functioning of the organization and this impact involves the generation, dissemination and use of information by people at various organizational levels, which again is dependent on how well the BPR process managers can motivate and communicate with the people concerned for bringing about the desired changes in the processes.

The level of motivation and communication has a significant impact on the ability of the organization to sustain the redesigned process and make effective use of them. The success of motivation and communication is the factor of the leadership style of the managers involved in the process. Since BPR has the objective of improving organizational performance, leadership can be considered to have a significant influence on the success of BPR. Lack of leadership may cause failure in the BPR initiatives of any organization.

The current research extends to a comprehensive understanding of the role of BPR in organizational performance improvement and examining the key success factors of BPR. More specifically this research attempts to evaluate the role of employee participation and management commitment in ensuring the success of BPR project at XYZ Company, in the context of Saudi Arabia.

Business Process Reengineering – an Overview

To study the impact of leadership styles on BPR, it becomes imperative that a clear understanding of the term and its nature and objectives are evolved. BPR is a concept, which encompasses improvements in business processes in a dramatic approach.

“Reengineering is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed,” (Hammer & Champy, 1993 as quoted in Jones, Noble, & Crowe, 1997).

BPR is concerned with making changes that are radical and significant implemented to improve the overall efficiency of the business processes. Davenport & Short, (1990) refer to the changes as business process redesign. The process changes, even though referred to in several terms such as business process improvement, core process design, process innovation and organizational reengineering, the central focus of all these different concepts is to bring effective and dramatic changes to the business processes to improve productivity and performance.

There are different reasons like to decreased efficiency of the processes, reduced market share, increased customer dissatisfaction or challenges from the competitors that induce organizations to implement BPR. Hammer and Champy, (1993) identify the need for BPR in companies, which are in deep trouble. These companies do not have a choice except to improve the processes. Similarly, companies that do not have trouble, but who are expecting that the company may have to face troubles also introduce BPR. Companies that are in the peak of their business success and see the likelihood to develop a lead over the competitors are keen in resorting to BPR.

Several case studies on BPR have recorded failure in BPR, because of several reasons including lack of understanding of BPR and the inability to perform BPR effectively (Chan & Choi, 1997). The lack of understanding of BPR might be because of the unrealistic expectations of the managers. When these unrealistic expectations did not materialize the managers lost commitment.

The inability to perform BPR was because of several reasons including, the use of an effective methodology, embarking on wrong process and objectives, over-reliance on information technology and the lack of top management commitment. Reengineering needs a new way of thinking and breaking away from the old ways so that the organization can develop visions. Since most of the benefits that can be derived from BPR are expected to improve employee morale and productivity, there is the need for the managers to adopt a fitting leadership style so that they will be able to ensure effective implementation of the changes in the processes.

Research Questions and Sub Questions

The main aim of the current research is to focus on the existing BPR literature to evaluate the role of employee participation and management commitment to ensuring the success of BPR projects. The findings of the study will enable the successful implementation of BPR projects in XYZ Company in Saudi Arabia. The study will assess to what extent the employee participation and management commitment act as enablers of success of BPR projects in an organizational context. In the process of achieving this aim, the research will extend to the analysis of key success and failure factors affecting the implementation of BPR projects in general. The research will attempt to find an answer to the following research questions.

To what extent, level of employee participation and management commitment will contribute to the success of the BPR projects in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia.

The following are the research subquestions:

  1. What is the level of participation of employees required in ensuring the successful implementation of the BPR Project?
  2. What is the level of commitment of top/senior management required in successful BPR Implementation?
  3. To what extent does the collaboration between employees and top managers ensure the success of the BPR Project?

Overview of the Organization under Study


Established during the 1960s XYZ Company is a transformer manufacturing company located in Saudi Arabia, having around 1000 employees working in the head office and two branches located in two different cities. The company possesses a good potential for growth and with effective implementation of BPR projects, the company will be able to achieve commendable performance and enhance its profitability and growth. The company has its plans to be enlisted in the Saudi Stock Exchange and contemplates to issue an Initial Public Offer (IPO) for raising additional funds to be invested in larger projects. However, before the company takes these steps it becomes essential to streamline its business processes mainly to have its mounting expenses under control.

The major issue with the operations of the company is that the controls are highly centralized and managerial authorizations and approvals have been made mandatory for each step in the operations, which affect the speedy progress of work in different processes and projects, with the result that there is a cost overrun in every process. Apart from this, there is a general lack of the efficiency of the employees to deal with problem situations and they look at the mangers to give them solutions. There is no team working and communication is not required nor needed, as the managerial authority is highly centralized and is expected to be able to force the organizational activities.

Problem Statement

During the past few years, there has been a gradual decline in the overall performance and the company has witnessed degradation in the efficiency and attitude of the employees. The employee morale has also deteriorated, with the centralized decision-making authority, which prevented any urgent action on the part of the employees for solving business issues. Continuous and inordinate delays in business processes resulted in an escalation of cost in all respects.

The efficiency of the organization suffered from finding fault with the overall supply chain and pointing fingers at the management. Managerial bureaucracy is too deep and they are unable to provide satisfactory service to the customers. This has created major bottlenecks in the process cycles and the overall organizational efficiency must be improved. The implementation of business process engineering has been one of the techniques that the company contemplates to implement to improve the efficiency at all levels of the organization.

Seeds of Interest

The topic of “Business Process Reengineering” was particularly fascinating to the researcher because of his position in XYZ Company, Saudi Arabia, where he observed the opportunity a large scope for implementing BPR initiatives. The Company’s growth has been deteriorating and the profitability of the Company has shown a declining trend because of the deficiencies noted in different business processes. It hurt the overall performance of the company. The researcher because of his interest in working to improve the performance of the Company decided to look at BPR as the technique for improving organizational performance. This required an in-depth study of the enablers and barriers for successful implementation of BPR techniques in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia and this interest led to the research and the writing of this dissertation on the topic.

Rationale behind the Research

Ever since BPR technique has been recognized as a management technique for improving overall organizational performance, it was looked at as a panacea “to initiate and legitimize even the most disparate projects for organizational change” (Biazzo, 1998, p.10). This was a clear lack of the understanding of the capabilities of BPR as a management technique and this was the main reason that led to the failure of the technique in the case of several organizations. In the overall implementation process, there has been a lacuna, in which the employee participation was completely not taken into account.

Similarly, there was a lack of commitment from the top management, which hindered the successful implementation of BPR projects. This implies a complete lack of knowledge on the enablers and barriers of BPR in the organizational context. These factors were subjected to constant redefinition with every BPR program creating an inconsistency in the approach and the consequent failure. Therefore studying the enablers and barriers of BPR, especially the human elements involved in the successful implementation and crosschecking them with the knowledge gained from the campus course using utmost objectivity makes the current research significant. Research conducted using a survey among the employees of the chosen organization further extends to knowledge.

Structure of the Dissertation

This dissertation is structured to consist of six chapters. The current chapter introduced the background of this research and the objectives of conducting the research. The research question and sub-questions presented in this chapter. An overview of the company, XYZ_ Company forms part of the chapter along with a statement of the problem and the proposed solution by the company. The significance of the research is also discussed in this chapter followed by a section on the structure of the dissertation.

Chapter Two contains the literature review. Since BPR is an important management technique, it is important to understand the origin of the concept and explore the different elements of BPR. This chapter describes the origin of BPR followed by a few definitions of the technique. Then, a study of the success factors of BPR is discussed followed by the discussion on employee participation in BPR projects. Afterwards, a review of failure for BPR is presented and to conclude the chapter, the impact of leadership on organizational performance is discussed, later on, summarized, and consolidated into one framework.

Chapter Three describes the methodology used to conduct this research. A review of the various data gathering techniques is presented along with the strengths and weaknesses. On deciding the appropriate research design, the chapter presents a discussion on the tools and techniques used for conducting the secondary search. A section of the chapter focuses on the different sources of literature used in this research. The rationale behind the selection of a particular data collection method is presented in this chapter. The design of the research instrument and the process of selection of samples are also discussed in this chapter. A note on the theoretical limitations of the research process forms part of this chapter.

Chapter Four deals with the analysis of the data collected. The chapter contains a discussion on the sample selection that will participate in this research. The chapter also deals with problems of data administration. As a part of this chapter, the data collected are tabulated and an analysis of the data is presented. The chapter will also cover the limitations encountered at the stage of data analysis. Chapter Four also contains a detailed discussion of the findings of the survey and interview. The discussion relates to all the points covered by the questionnaire and critical analysis made on the findings. An overall assessment focusing on the results and their impact on a global perspective, leading to theoretical and practical conclusions drawn from the research findings are presented in this chapter.

Chapter Five is the concluding chapter, which presents a recap of the research and the chapter presents recommendations for future researches. Chapter Six is on the reflections about the research. A list of sources from which information and data are drawn for completing the research is listed under the head “References”. The questionnaire used for drawing information from the samples is presented in Appendix I.

Literature Review

Organizations are sure to become successful when they network across functional boundaries and business processes rather than depending on functional hierarchies. However, the sheer use of the latest technology on existing processes and procedures will not be an effective solution to the organizational issues. An approach of rethinking the business activities to be of fundamental to the business processes has been found successful, which is the central theme of business process reengineering (BRP).

“Effective redesign of business processes by removing unnecessary activities and replacing archaic, functional processes with cross-functional activities, in combination with using information technology as an enabler for this type of change will, according to the advocates of BPR lead to significant gains in speed, productivity, service, quality and innovation” (Simon, 1994). “BPR includes a fundamental analysis of the organization and a redesign of Organizational structure, job definition, reward structure, business workflows, control processes and, in some cases reevaluation of the organizational culture and philosophy” (Diaz, 2004), to bring radical and dramatic changes in these elements to improve organizational performance.

Bringing changes at the organizational level requires committed change management at all levels. Change management can be practised efficiently applying the appropriate leadership style. The scope of this study is to explore the relationship between leadership styles and BPR. In this context, this chapter presents a review of the past literature on leadership styles, BPR and the underlying relationship between the two phenomena.

Origin of BPR

The concept of BPR originated during the mid-1980s, at which point of time there was massive support for business process redesign. Japanese managers used the concept along with the other management concept like TQM, for implementing continuous improvement. During the late 1990s changes in economic scenario forced organizations to introduce downsizing programs and using improved technology. According to Biazzo (1998), the concept has an extremely comprehensive definition and strategy of using information technology in redesigning the business processes.

Hammer (1990) gave a legitimate shape to the concept and defined BPR as the need for a radical reengineering of the processes by altering the existing processes by creating new processes. Despite the coverage of several research works and studies, BPR has not been fully understood (Biazzo, 1998; Knights & McCabe 2001). BPR is being used as “an attractive banner under whose shade it has been possible to initiate and legitimize even the most disparate projects for organizational change” (Biazzo 1998; p. 18).

Definitions and Key Elements of BPR

Davenport and Short (1990) define business processes as “a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome.” According to this definition, there are two important factors characterizing business processes. They are (i) the processes have customers – implying that the processes have defined outcomes and the customers represent the recipients of these outcomes, and (ii) the processes cross-organizational boundaries – the processes occur either across or between organizational subunits.

The definition of business processes as given by Hammer & Champy (1993) reads as “a collection of activities that takes one or more kinds of input and creates an output that is of value to the customer”. Based on this definition, developing a new product, ordering new goods from a supplier and creating a marketing plan can be considered as business processes. Hammer and Champy (2001) describe BPR as “The fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical contemporary measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed” (p. 35).

Biazzo (1998) explained BPR as “the radical transformation of a firm carried out through reengineering its processes” (p. 3). Knights and McCabe (2001) define BPR concept as “[involving] the delayering and dismantling of management hierarchies; the empowerment of staff; and the introduction of multi-skilled teams of workers as opposed to fragmented, task-based forms of working” (p. 3). According to Gunasekaran et al. (2001), the objective of implementing BPR is to transform the organization into a customer-oriented process-focused rather than functional procedure-focused based.

Although various definitions are describing the role and function of the concept of BPR, they all have recurring themes, which characterize the concept and methodology of BPR (Hammer and Champy, 2001). They are:

  • It involves combining several jobs into a single job;
  • Employees are empowered to take decisions along different processes;
  • It involves the execution of the processes in their natural order;
  • It is necessary to expect multiple variations of processes;
  • Work is to be executed as it needs to be;
  • It aims at minimizing managerial control and reconciliation and
  • Customers are given the opportunity for a single point of contact.

Davenport and Short (1990) have attributed three distinct dimensions to business processes. They are (i) organizational entities or subunits, which take part in the process (these include inter-organizational, inter-functional and interpersonal processes), (ii) the type of objects attended through the process (physical and informational processes) and (iii) the type of activities that take place because of the business process (operational and managerial processes). It is to be noted that different processes require different levels of management attention and ownership. The processes have also different types of business consequences.

This emphasizes the importance of practising the appropriate type of leadership to derive the anticipated changes in the business processes so that the organization can be steered to success.

Application of the Technique of BPR

In the context of BPR, it is to be ascertained, which type of organization needs the application of the reengineering process. Hammer & Champy (2001) have identified three different types of organizations, which might need reengineering programs. First is any firm, which is in deep financial trouble because of heavy financial losses. Second is the company, which is not in deep financial trouble, but the management expects some troubles for the company shortly. Thirdly, the technique may be applied to such companies, which want to bring aggressive changes for business growth, even though there are no current or future threats envisaged. There are various examples of companies, which were benefited by engaging BPR. For example, Ford, General Motors, Southwest Airlines and Dell Computers are some of the companies quoted by Hammer & Champy (2001).

Process Orientation

“Many current business processes with their functional structures were designed to enable efficient management by separating processes into small tasks that could be performed by less skilled workers with little responsibility.” (Rock, 2003) Under this structure, the task of making important decisions within the organizational context was entrusted to the higher skilled and trusted leaders of the organization. Traditional approaches to business reengineering were expected to follow this sequential order, which centred on the decisions of the managers.

The sequence followed the formulation of a business strategy, followed by planning the business structures and processes with the final stage of implementation. In contrast to these traditional hierarchical structures, BPR is more process-oriented. The objective of BPR as practised today is to mitigate many of the issues raised by the traditional organizational structures, which are hierarchical. BPR is the process-oriented to change the structural relationship between the management and employees in the organization. It involves an essentially interactive process between both the parties. Any BPR process is undertaken to identify the deficiencies in the current process structures and dismantle them so that they can be replaced with innovative ideas and techniques.

BPR is carried out following certain well-defined approaches undertaken to improve the process concerned. A frequently adopted approach of BPR is to identify and improve those process(s), which are central to the achievement of business objectives and which do not perform to the desired levels. The next step is to undertake a systematic analysis for determining the most important areas for development.

Organizational Enablers for BPR

Evaluation of BPR projects has been attempted from several perspectives, to measure the success of the projects. Researchers have identified different factors contributing to the success of BPR. Davenport and Short (1990) identified reducing in the overall costs, reducing the time involved in performing the process, improving the volume of output and quality standards and improving the employee performance through empowerment and leaning as the objectives of BPR.

According to Morris & Brandon, (1993), the goals of BPR include

  1. streamlining the operation,
  2. reduction of costs,
  3. improving the quality of products,
  4. increasing the revenue,
  5. improving customer orientation and satisfaction,
  6. merging the operations acquired in the course of business.

Stow, (1993) observes that improving the organizational effectiveness, efficiency and competitiveness of the organization and enhanced profitability of the organization are the major objectives of BPR. According to Stow (1993), defining the objectives of BPR is the first essential step for the success of BPR.

The success factors of BPR are categorized into two broad groups – factors relating to process redesign and factors relating to change management. In respect of process redesigning there are three different categories of success factors have been identified relating to

  1. process,
  2. project-team management and
  3. information technology.

In respect of change management, issues the categories of success factors include:

  1. people-oriented factors,
  2. managerial/administrative factors and
  3. organizational factors.

Based on this discussion the focus of the current study can be identified to concentrate on the success factors concerning change management, as leadership has an important role to play in all the factors relating to change management and in turn on the success of BPR.

Peppard and Fitzgerald (1997) identified “ambitious objectives, the deployment of a creative team in problem-solving and a process approach and integration of electronic data processing as some of the key success factors. Ascari et al (1995) have included culture, processes, structure and technology as the four elements leading to the successful implementation of BPR. The study by Ascari found that the rethinking by the organization of its fundamental business process led to changes in the culture of the organization.

Organizations that were keen on implementing BPR, have to focus on recognizing and facilitating core business systems. However, “the scope and maturity of the business process architectures and the nature of changes within processes vary within organizations.” Successful implementation of BPR also requires significant changes to be brought in the organizational structure, especially promoting cross-functional work-teams. The study by Maul et al (1995) highlights the importance of change in organizational structure for reaping the benefits of BPR.

Several researchers and practitioners are of the view that top management commitment is the most important factor in ensuring the success of BPR (Janson, 1993; Davenport, 1993). The researchers point out that a reengineered process alone cannot make changes to the way the people work, as BPR can never happen using a bottom-up approach. According to Champy & Arnoudse, (1992), the role, attitude, vision and skill or knowledge of the leaders contribute to the success of BPR. The authors argue that the BPR must follow a top-down driven approach because the process requires effective change management.

Because of the inherently cross-functional focus on processes, BPR demands leadership by those who have comprehensive perspectives. The leaders in charge of BPR processes must have the authority to coordinate different interest groups effectively. Janson (1993) is of the view that clears, honest and frequent communication is important for the successful implementation of any BPR process, which in effect needs managers with appropriate leadership qualities who could communicate with employees at different levels cohesively and clearly.

Janson (1993) states sharing information and empathizing with the concerns of the employees would help in minimizing the resistance to change. Katzenbach & Smith, (1993) propose that a BPR project team should consist of people from different interest groups and the team members need to have acceptable skill levels, shared goal and mutual accountability among them. It is also important that any BPR project is led by people having the desired leadership qualities and style to accomplish the BPR project objective.

The BPR efforts must be undertaken based on certain chosen objectives. The objectives need to be selected based on the strategies and visions of the company. When conducted based on objectives, the success of BPR can be ensured easily. Davenport and Short (1990) selecting the right processes for BPR could be identified as one of the success factors. All these success factors become effective only when there is effective leadership, which controls the BPR process.

Some prior literature has dealt with the critical success factors for the implementation of BPR in the organizations. Ahmad (2004) considered the importance of leadership and top management support for the BPR as one of the key elements in ensuring the success of BPR. Based on this finding, this study considers top management commitment as interrelated and necessary in all the success factors enabling BPR implementation. According to Davenport (1993), only a successful change leader can have a realistic and positive expectation of improved organizational outcomes.

Employee Participation and BPR

Many authors have pointed out that employee participation is a key element in the successful implementation of BPR (Biazzo 1998; Mumford 19997, 1998; Taylor 1998; Paper 2001; Haines et al. 2005; McCabe 2004; Simón-Elorz et Al. 2005). Mumford (1998) argues that BPR cannot be termed as participative, as there is no element of employee participation in the design of the system. According to Mumford (1998), the focus of BPR is centred around the output of the firm as improved by efficiency and quality; but in reality, team working must have more focus. To make matters worse the technique of BPR tries to achieve its objective by tightening the production process by exercising workforce reduction, which in turn stresses the remaining workers more. Lack of employee participation and senior management support has been identified as reasons for the higher rate of BPR failure.

According to Mumford (1998), suggest employee participation in the areas of process design, training and development. This is important and essential for the approval and acceptance of the system before it is implemented for ensuring the success of the technique. Mumford criticizes BPR in that it misses a lot of elements from socio-technical design such as “quality of working life, job satisfaction, employee participation and humanistic work design.”

Grover and Malhotra (1997) recommend employee participation and effective change management to realize the benefits of BPR. According to the authors, even though BPR and TQM share a similar focus on processes, TQM incorporates bottom-up approaches. TQM encompasses the continuous assessment of current practices, which allow for incremental changes and employee participation using different techniques (Hill, 1991).

While BPR is intended to implement radical changes in the structure and processes, if it is applied using a top-down approach, it may lead to frustration and resistance among the employees. This is because with a top-down approach there is a chance that the goals and objectives are not fully communicated to the employees down the line. When the employees are not effectively and completely trained and empowered, the organization may not be able to realize the benefits of BPR technique.

According to Grover and Malhotra (1997), identify the critical success factor for BPR as “active executive support, getting the “buy-in” from major interest groups, consideration of technical and social changes together, and effective project and change management” (p. 12). The authors add that the success of BPR depends on the ability of the organization to sell the change vision to the employees, in addition to performing a workforce reduction so that the workforce becomes more flexible and responsive. The study by Grover and Malhotra (1997) concludes, “Empowerment, team-working and both top-down and bottom-up approach” are the crucial success factors enabling the implementation of BPR in any organization.

Den Hengst and De Vreede (2004) by involving employees in the tools and methods for bringing change, the organization will be able to achieve higher efficiency. Only passive involvement of the employees can be expected, if they are made to watch the execution of the project and the employees will comment only when they are asked. On the other hand, active involvement will encourage employees to interact and offer their comments and they will play a significant role in the change process.

The authors also point out the efficiency of a BPR increases with shared focus and understanding of the projects; however, this calls for the active involvement of employees, most preferably in a synchronous way. According to Den Hengst and De Vreede (2004), Collaborative Business Engineering, which combines the expertise of the employees in organizational processes, and the knowledge of external consultants in design methodologies and techniques, will greatly enhance the success of BPR projects. The technique of Collaborative Business Engineering will be a less aggressive version of BPR, by incorporating both radical and incremental changes. At the same time, the technique involves the active participation of employees and it will focus on the current situation without blindly changing the current processes.

Participation can be maximized by effective communication and training to the employees. Paper (2001) cites the example of Honeywell, where the employees are encouraged to think differently when a small analogy is presented to them for solving an issue. Unless there are proper communication and understanding, each of the employees is most likely to have his/her perception about the process of change.

Effective process mapping can happen only when employees are made to understand that they represent a part of the whole system. The study by Paper (2001) suggests that since employees are unpredictable and cannot be modelled, they need to be trained and empowered. Continuous top management support is an essential prerequisite for succeeding in a BPR project and its implementation has to be carried out by adopting a bottom-up approach where the employees are educated and empowered in the process of decision-making.

Some of the firms initiate BPR projects by undertaking reduction in workforce, which will result in loss of vital intangible resources affecting the sustainability of the organization (Grover and Malhotra 1997; Mumford 1998; Taylor 1998; Haines et al. 2004). Knights & McCabe (2001) argue that managers exhibit the character of paternalistic masculinity and retain the decision-making authority, which contradicts with the principle of process orientation.

This leads racing among the executives for dominance and authority. The authors note that BPR must have a strong focus towards human factor to understand the human need, benefits and feelings and must motivate the employees to embrace the change in the process. Paper and Chang (2005) argue that successful change vision has to consider all the parties to the change process including employees, managers and top management who carry equal weight in the change process.

Review of Failure Factors of BPR

BPR is expected to bring about major changes in organizations, which enhances the competitiveness of the firms and make them more responsive to the market. However, the implementation of any BPR is complex and involves major issues. Improper defining of the scope of BPR has been identified to be one important reason for the failure of BPR. BPR involves coordinating the efforts of a large number of people and many of the BPR projects extend for several years. Another important reason for the failure of BPR is that BPR always demands radically new behaviours. Janson, (1993) observes that BPR can provoke strong resistance within the organizations. The following are some of the major reasons for the failure of BPR.

Resistance to Change

Stanton et al., (1992) point out that the resistance from the people who would be affected by a BPR initiative might turn out to be the major reason for the failure of a BPR project. BPR operates by providing employees with tools and expertise that enable them to perform on multiple tasks. BPR ensures that the departmentalization in the organization is broken and functional units are made to work in coordination with each other.

By flattening the organizational layers, BPR makes the managers lose their power. BPR also acts to shift the responsibility of individual organizational members and breaks open the status quo in the organization. Resistance by managers may result from the altered status of the managers, fear of losing the job and loss of control and position and resultant frustration. There will be widespread fears of losing the jobs since BPR attempts to eliminate unnecessary organizational positions and tasks. Workers may also resist to BPR initiatives due to lack of team-oriented approach, lack of ability to be adjusted to new technologies and processes. Presence of stakes and territorial disputes may also result in resistance to BPR initiatives.

Unrealistic Expectation

According to Hall et al (1993), stakeholders have some misconceptions and misunderstandings about BPR, which lead to the failure of BPR. Top management may have unrealistic expectations of reaping the benefits of BPR within a short period after the implementation. In some cases, the design and implementation may take more time to give results of the BPR efforts. If the stakeholders have misconceptions and unrealistic expectations, it would be difficult to attract the commitment of these stakeholders throughout the BPR project duration. Without the commitment of the stakeholders, it would be impossible to conduct a BPR successfully.

Incomplete Restructuring of an Organization

Hall et al., (1993) prescribe that there needs to be a complete restructuring of the key organizational drivers to ensure the success of BPR. The authors propose that key drivers of organizational behaviours such as roles and responsibilities, performance measurements and incentives, organization structure, information technology, shared value and skills have to undergo complete change because of BPR. The investigation of some BPR cases by Hall et al (1993) reveals that organizations that have taken the restructuring of these key drivers to bring about major behavioural changes have been able to apply BPR initiatives most successfully.

The review of the factors causing failure of BPR suggests that there should be strong leadership to communicate with the employees and stakeholders to make them understand the realistic expectations of BPR and eradicate or reduce the resistance to BPR initiatives.

Leadership and Organizational Performance

In the context of studying the impact of leadership styles on BPR, it becomes important to understand the effect of leadership on the overall organizational performance, because leadership is viewed as one of the key driving forces in bringing improvement to the firm’s performance (Zhu et al., 2005). Rowe (2001) and Avolio (1999) consider leadership as a potent source of management development and sustained competitive advantage for improvement in firm performance. According to Mehra et al. (2006), focusing on the effects of leadership has been recognized as a long-standing approach to outperform the competitors.

This is because team leaders could play a pivotal role in “shaping collective norms, helping teams cope with their environments, and coordinating collective action.” Based on this leader-centred perspective several studies have been conducted providing valuable insights into the relationship between leadership and team performance (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996). Several studies have focused on exploring the strategic role of leadership to investigate the ways of employing leadership paradigms and using leadership behaviour to effect significant improvement in organizational performance (e.g. Judge et al., 2002; Judge and Piccolo, 2004; Keller, 2006; MacGrath & MacMillan, 2000; Meyer & Heppard, 2000; Purcell et al., 2004; Yukl, 2002).

One of the important reasons for such extended research in the area is because intangible assets such as leadership styles, organizational culture, and skill and competence levels of organizational members are seen key sources of strengths in those firms, which combine people and processes for effective improvement in organizational performance (Purcell et al., 2004). It is evident from a discussion that previous researches have led to the expectation that leadership paradigms, when applied appropriately will have the effect of positively influencing customer satisfaction, staff satisfaction, and financial performance. Since these are the main objectives of any BPR application, it can be concluded that leadership styles have a positive impact on the BPR, which can be understood from the resulting improvement in the organizational performance.

Research Methodology


This chapter presents a description of the proposed data gathering techniques and the primary and secondary data collection method. The review of the literature undertaken in the previous chapter leads to the formulation of the appropriate research strategy. Some previous researchers have empirically studied the implementation of BPR projects in various contexts. Based on the studies, many of them have identified the level of employee participation and management commitment in implementing BPR projects successfully. Based on the review of the previous literature, a qualitative study has been conducted among the employees to evaluate the level of employee participation and management commitment required in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia, for implementing BPR projects successfully. This chapter presents a description of the research methodology.

Secondary Data Collection

A consensus on the definition, scope and application on BPR philosophy has not evolved so far. Therefore, it is difficult to arrive at a comprehensive formula for successful implementation because of the “… lack of methodological research constructs… [and the] difficulties in measuring the success of projects that are semi-completed” (Al-Mashari et al. 2001). This highlights the limitations of conducting theoretical and practical researches in the field. Because of the same reason of the complexity of the concept and its implementation, there have been several studies conducted in the field and it becomes important to conduct an in-depth literature review for gathering an extended knowledge about the topic.

A detailed review of the relevant literature has been conducted on some of the major professional contributions in the field of study that took place in the past two decades. The research has been conducted on the same lines as that of the study of Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005). However, more professional works have been consulted to critically evaluate the work Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005) and to include the review on the employee participation aspect in the review. For instance, the work of Al-Mashari and Zairi (1999) has undertaken the review of several professional articles to identify 87 different barriers for BPR from the information collected from over 120 articles and books.

The current study used more than sixty published articles from Emerald library and Leicester’s Business Source Premier. These are the professional contributions by famous authors in this field such as Knights and Willmott (1987), Hammer (1990), Stewart (1993), Davenport and Stoddard (1994), Mumford (1994), Grover and Malhotra (1997), Knights and McCabe (2001), Paper et al. (2001), Den Hengst and De Vreede (2004), McCabe (2004), Paper and Chang (2005) and many more, are carefully visited, analysed and criticized. Few books such as Davenport (1993), Hammer (1996), Hammer, and Champy (2001) have been used.

Primary Data Collection

It is difficult to determine the best research approach because of the complexities involved in each research inquiry. For conducting the current research given the smaller number of samples selected it was proposed to conduct a qualitative semi-structured interview using a preset interview questionnaire as the research instrument for primary data gathering considering the strengths and weaknesses of all other methods. The selection of this method is linked to many other aspects related to this research, which are explained in the following sections.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Approach

Qualitative research approach focuses on the reliability of the data based on the characteristics of the information than on the numeric values. It has been observed by many practitioners that this method engages a methodology, which is subjective and this engagement reduces the role of the researcher to one of the key research instruments (Adler and Adler, 1987). A large volume of previous studies is available which deals with the qualitative research approach. The qualitative method represents a ‘naturalistic’ approach to the research inquiry (Bogdan and Biklen (1982); Lincoln and Guba (1985); Patton (1990); Eisner (1991). The current study will use a qualitative exploratory study to find the answers for the research questions.

Denzin & Lincoln, (1998) have defined qualitative research as,

“Qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of meanings people bring to them.” (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998)

The definition of qualitative research gives rise to certain situations that cover complex human experiences. In the context of social science inquiries, there is the need for insight, discovery and interpretation and one cannot arrive at the conclusion just by testing the hypotheses established to study the particular issue. Qualitative research in respect of certain social issues is considered superior to quantitative research, because of its capabilities of understanding people within the social and cultural contexts, where the people are found to live. Examination of quantitative data will not enable the participants to understand the issues perfectly from their social and institutional contexts (Kaplan & Maxwell1994). Because of this shortcoming associated with quantitative research, this study proposes to use quantitative research approach.

Quantitative research depends less on subjective methods but focuses more on the collection of empirical data to support the research findings. It involves a statistical and mathematical analysis of the findings through a survey or other feasible method for collecting the data.

Burns and Grove (1991) define quantitative research as “a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data is utilized to obtain information about the research question.” Objectivity and reliability are at the root of the methods used in quantitative research. In quantitative research, the position of the researcher is external to the research. Being quantitative the results are expected to remain the same irrespective of the person conducting the research. The major strength of quantitative research is its ability to produce quantifiable and reliable data Trochim (2001).

Even though quantitative survey among a large number of samples is preferable in terms of data gathering, due to the richness of data to be collected from interviewees based on qualitative interviews was considered better for this research. In the current research, it was not possible to adopt a quantitative questionnaire as a significant number of employees at lower levels involved in direct production and may not have any idea of BPR. Further, a semi-structured interview might enrich this research for the additional information it can add to the research such as body language and tone of voice. After careful consideration of all these factors, it was considered appropriate to engage the qualitative semi-structured interview.

Possible Limitations on the Primary Data Collection Method

With the influence of factors such as the complexity of the BPR literature, the level of education of employees, the time needed to answer an in-depth interview along with the work pressure it was considered that it would be difficult and time consuming to conduct semi-structured in-depth interviews. Moreover, the researcher being an employee of the company and a witness to the BPR program, there was the likelihood that analysis of a semi-structured interview risks potential bias from the researcher affecting the credibility of this research. However, consideration of the limitations and impediments of other data gathering techniques, qualitative interviews were considered the better option of the research method.

Review of Other Data Collection Techniques

The suitability of other data collection techniques was reviewed before deciding on the qualitative method of semi-structured interview method. The telephonic interview could be another option; but this method has its issues to enable the respondents to answer the questions, making it a difficult method of data gathering. Interviewees might not be able to allocate time during the day for a telephonic interview.

It may take a longer time for the researcher to explain the questions to the respondents and it may even take a longer time for the respondents to understand the questions posed to them over the telephone. The other option is to collect the data by distributing the questions through online/electronic survey. However, it was not possible to engage this method because the respondents may not have the time to attend the email survey. Taking these complexities into consideration it was decided to use the semi-structured method to collect primary data.


The researcher must specify the chosen samples. Even though there are no define rules for sample selection, the person doing the research has to rely on his logical ability and judgment. Target sample population has to be defined keeping in mind the aims and goals of the research. In cases where the total number of people to be studied is less, the person doing the research may decide to include them all in the investigation. If the number of people to be studied is too large, the person doing the research can vigilantly choose the samples, to symbolize the total number of people.

The samples must be selected in a way that it symbolizes the features of the total lot from which the sample was selected. Samples may be selected using probability or non-probability sampling methods. In the probability sampling method, each item of study has the chance of being chosen as a representative item. In non-probability sampling, samples are selected following some nonrandom ways of selection. Under probability sampling, the researcher will be able to detect issues in sampling.

Random sampling is the perfect method of including representative items under the method of probability sampling. In the current study, the samples are selected using random sampling under probability sampling.

The samples were selected by adopting the below-mentioned procedure.

A list of all departments, which are of relevance to the study, was drawn. The number of managerial/supervisory/front-line workers in each department was listed. Based on the number of each category in the different departments, a maximum of one or two people, one representing the managers or supervisors was chosen. Length of stay with the company of the manager/supervisor was the criterion for selection. One worker based on the number of years of experience in the production and design departments was drawn for conducting the interview. Thus, the sample comprised of people representing each department and who worked for more than five years with XYZ Company. In total 22 employees were selected as samples for conducting the semi-structured interview.

Qualitative Interview Questionnaire

A semi-structured qualitative interview questionnaire was designed using the findings from the review of the prior literature and the survey design of Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005). Several modifications are applied to simplify the questions and make them easy to understand (Questionnaire is exhibited in Appendix I). As the researcher is in the employment of the company and is contemplating to play a major role in the BPR process some enhancements are also applied to this survey to improve the level of conformity with the current situation while insuring utmost objectivity in the whole process.

The research instrument developed for this research was a semi-structured questionnaire, which contained 10 questions to be posted to the interviewees. There were no general questions or questions on the demographic background of the employees. This questionnaire examined the employee’s attitude on the barriers for successful BPR implementation.

Key individual enablers of successful BPR implementation were explained briefly allowing the respondents to understand their meanings properly. Afterwards, the respondents were asked to indicate their opinion on the organizational changes that would assist BPR success, the BPR techniques that could be adopted and the managerial qualities that would enhance the success of the BPR projects.

The choice of adding these questions was taken later on after the review of the relevant literature. These questions allowed the respondents to understand the implications of employee participation on BPR and respond to the likely results that could be expected by engaging BPR projects. Naturally, some of the respondents felt comfortable to make judgments about BPR implementation, when they considered the individual BPR techniques included in the questionnaire.

It was decided to conduct a pilot study initially to analyse the ease of use of the questionnaire for the interview. The interview was then conducted with the chosen employees, with a response rate of around 68%.

Pilot Study

An initial pilot study was undertaken by interviewing with three employees from three of the departments. This pilot study aimed to explore the initial feedback and the level of cooperation that could be expected from the respondent employees. The pilot study was to ascertain the level of clarity and understanding of the questions contained in the questionnaire

Completing the questionnaire took around 35 minutes. Interestingly, the pilot test proved crucial as it evolved many reflections from the three respondents and requests for clarifications. The respondents also provided some constructive suggestions for modifying the questions that helped to improve the questionnaire. The final interview questions are exhibited in the Appendix.


This section details the few limitations to the adopted research method. First, the response rate was expected to be low due to the reasons mentioned earlier. However, in reality, 15 employees out of the 22 selected responded to the interview questions. The major limitation faced by the study was that there was almost no senior managerial cooperation for this study. This issue has a significant impact on the credibility of this research, as it was important to secure managerial support and cooperation. This is because BPR design is a senior management initiative (Hammer & Champy 2001).

The senior managers were reluctant to participate in the interview process and contribute to the research because they were convinced that such research would not bring in any real benefits to the company. This stand taken by them had a serious impact on the research process. However, it came to the realization later that the senior managers have reacted so because of their earlier experience with an external consultant organization who promised to deliver tangible improvements in the working of the company; but failed. This has caused resentment among managers.

The failure of the consultants was because of their inability to understand the processes involved in the company working and suggest appropriate improvements. Since the researcher could convince the senior managers, that because of his employment with the company, he could deliver better results. This convinced the senior managers to contribute to some extent to the research. The research method of qualitative survey chosen added to the strength of data collection, as the researcher could ask additional questions to clarify issues immediately with the respondents and improve the quality of the findings.

Research Findings and Data Analysis

This section presents a summary of the findings of the survey conducted on the evaluation of employee participation and management commitment to the success of BPR projects in XYZ Company.

Overview of the Interview

A random sample of 22 employees of the company who were associated with the implementation of BPR projects was selected for completing the employee participation and management commitment questionnaire. Out of the 22 samples selected, 15 of them responded to the questionnaire personally presented to them by the researcher, giving a response rate of 68%. Before starting the interview, the researcher explained the purpose of the survey to the respondents. About two-thirds of the respondents responded on their own on the questions on BPR project implementation and to the balance of the respondents, the researcher offered a detailed explanation on each question and the options for response before they could respond to the questions.

Background of the Interview

Past studies conveyed a mixed message on the approach of management to the BPR projects. Many of the scholars emphasized that a top-down approach ensures the success of BPR initiatives, though it is for the BPR team to own the implementation aspects of the project. This implied that the management would direct the team on the ways of implementing the BPR steps rather than the team determining how the work should be done. If the managers allow the team to determine how the BPR project should progress, it can no longer be treated as a top-down one.

There have been several theories developed on the impact of employee participation on the success of BPR implementation, but there is little empirical evidence to prove the impact. Past literature has evolved different barriers and enablers for successful BPR implementation including employee participation and commitment of management. This research is based on a theoretical framework constructed based on the study of several other theories, tested and validated by past research in the area of BPR and employee participation.

Profile of Respondents

The average respondent was a male and the age group of the respondents ranged from 35 years to 49 years. The average experience of the respondents was over 5 years with XYZ Company. Some of the respondents have had experience in BPR implementation. The ages of the respondents ranged from 25 years to 59 years of age, none of them exceeded the lower and upper age limits. There were no women respondents. The average years of experience of the respondents were between a minimum of fewer than 7 years and a maximum of 18 years. There were eleven functional departments of the company, the employees of which were included in the respondents for the interviews. None of the respondents belonged to the department, in which the researcher is serving the company.


The responses to the interview questionnaire evidence the existence of a relationship exists between different factors affecting employee participation and the success or failure of the BPR schemes. This implies that the employee participation influences how a BPR turns out. Some of the factors that contribute to employee participation enhance the probability of success of the BPR projects. Based on the responses of the participants, this study found that teamwork is one of the essential prerequisites to make BPR situation successful, while the respondents also found that clarity of roles and responsibilities would contribute positively to the success of BPR projects. The following graph illustrates this position.

Factors Essential for Success of BPR
Figure 4.1 Factors Essential for Success of BPR

The second question was on the leadership that the management should adopt to ensure the success of the BPR projects. The BPR projects tended to have teams comprising of persons who were motivated and highly skilled. These people enjoyed working independently. They required only little direct supervision from the managers on non-routine tasks. BPR leaders who have been successful have engaged leadership styles that were interactive or non-directive. These leadership styles were used in cases where the team members could work independently.

These managers used leadership styles where different alternative solutions and approaches were discussed with the team. Some of such options and approaches were also modified before implementation on the advice of the team members. The leadership style used here was interactive. The managers also used styles where the team members were allowed to decide on the options and approaches. This style is non-directive. The following figure presents the responses of the interviewees on the leadership style that needs to be adopted for the success of BPR.

Leadership Style for Successful BPR
Figure 4.2 Leadership Style for Successful BPR

The responses to the additional questions proved the fact that successful managers adopted the technique of balancing different leadership styles and qualities depending on individual circumstances. This implies that successful managers adopted people-oriented leadership styles in the same proportion to the work-oriented leadership styles. When the mangers have not balanced the leadership styles and use one type of oriented style over the other, they met with the failure of the BPR projects they handled.

The people-oriented leadership styles enabled the managers to get the people in a team to communicate with each other and manage conflicts among the team members efficiently. They also supplied both positive and negative feedback on the performance of the team members and even helped people plan their future carriers. On the other hand, those managers who used work-oriented leadership styles deal with goal setting and monitoring the performance of the teams towards achieving the goals. They also provided the team with the required resources for effective implementation of the BPR project.

The responses to the interview indicate that the level of involvement of the management does influence the outcome of the project in terms of its success or failure. Many of the past research has reported a strong relationship between the involvement of the management consistently and the success of the BPR projects. This study has found evidence of this effect.

This study found evidence to prove that there is a correlation between the volume of BPR initiatives and the degree of success achieved by BPR projects. In other words, fewer BPR goals meant greater focus and a higher success rate of BPR. Therefore, the assumption is that with successful BPR projects there would be lesser BPR goals than those projects, which are less successful. The survey has found evidence to prove this point.

To the question of the influence of employee participation on the success of BPR projects, all the respondents have responded that it does have a strong influence.

The next question was to find the organizational changes that need to be brought into the system for successfully implementing BPR projects. The interviewees were given eight different options to choose from. Organizational changes, which are likely to influence the success of BPR, were included in the options. The respondents to the interview indicated that changes in the number of employees would ensure the success of the BPR projects. Few respondents have chosen the option of changes in the organizational structure and few have indicated the need for improvements in organizational shared values and benefits. The following graph represents the responses of the interviewees for the question on organizational changes.

Organizational Changes for Success of BPR
Figure 4.3 Organizational Changes for Success of BPR

All the respondents have agreed to the point that business strategies have a strong influence on the implementation of different BPR projects.

The next interview question was to ascertain the opinion of the respondents on the technique that would improve the success of BPR projects. Majority of the respondents (in total11 respondents) responded that the use of multi-functional teams of employees would effectively improve the results of BPR. The purpose of the question was to find the opinions of the participating employees about their perceptions of BPR and the technique that needs to be adopted for successfully implementing BPR projects. This question evoked a mixed response and employee respondents have identified different techniques. However, a majority of respondents proposed the technique of forming multifunctional teams for successfully implementing BPR projects. The following graph indicates the responses received from the interviewees.

Techniques for Successful BPR
Figure 4.4 Techniques for Successful BPR

Majority of the respondents agreed that the successful implementation of BPR projects would change the employees result-oriented. Similarly, all the employees believe that increased commitment of management would enhance the success rate of BPR projects. The final question placed to the employee respondents was to express their opinion on the changes that the management must undertake to implement BPR projects successfully in the organization. There were different options presented to the respondents in this respect. Out of the choices presented, the respondents expect that the management must have an innovative quality to ensure the success of BPR projects. The following figure represents the responses recorded for the question of changes in the management attitude and styles.

 Changes in Managerial Qualities for Successful BPR
Table 4.5 Changes in Managerial Qualities for Successful BPR


The purpose of the current research was to evaluate the level of employee participation and management commitment in the business process reengineering. The responses to the interview have provided support to the hypotheses established by earlier research studies.

The question of the factors, which enable effective BPR implementation, took the centre stage of the interview. There has been a significant contribution from the employees increasing the validity of the findings of the study. The findings were in agreement with the theoretical observations made during the review of the literature. For instance, the findings of Davenport and Short (1990) in suggesting improvements in the volume of output was suggested by some of the respondents as an enabler for BPR implementation. The goals of BPR as identified by the interviewees were in agreement with the theoretical findings by Stow (1993) and Peppard and Fitzgerald (1997).

On the matter of employee participation, the interview results prove that unless the employees are educated on the proposed organizational change through effective communication, it may not be possible to have an effective BPR implementation. It is observed that the respondents consider teamwork as the most important factor for the success of BPR projects even in preference to respect and recognition, which was one of the factors included in the interview questions.

There has been an overwhelming response in confirming that employee participation has a large influence on the success of BPR projects. According to Grover & Malhotra (1997), firms will be able to better realize the advantages of BPR through increased employee participation and effective change management. Mumford (1998) corroborates this view by suggesting employee participation in the areas of process design, training and development. The study by Den Hengst and De Vreede (2004) found that increased employee participation in the tools and methods of change management, organizations will be able to improve productivity and efficiency.

If there is no effective communication to the employees on the proposed organizational change n the form of BPR implementation, it may lead to resistance from the employees, based on an apprehension that they might be affected by the BPR initiatives. The employee resistance might turn out to be the major reason for the failure of a BPR project. The objectives of BPR initiatives can be accomplished only by providing employees with tools and expertise that enable them to perform on multiple tasks. In the absence of knowledge and expertise on BPR implementation, employees may not be able to perform up to the expected levels, which will affect the success of BPR projects.

For the success of BPR, it must be ensured that the departmentalization in the organization is broken and functional units are made to work in coordination with each other. Theoretical support of this aspect can be provided from the work of Paper (2001), in which he studied the example of Honeywell. In Honeywell, employees were encouraged to think out of the box and make suggestions for improvement in the working of the company. This is possible only when the employees are explained the need for such actions. In the absence of communication, there is the likelihood that the employees may misunderstand the purpose of such actions leading to non-cooperation from them.

Another important issue is that by flattening the organizational layers, BPR makes the managers lose their power. BPR also acts to shift the responsibility of individual organizational members and breaks open the status quo in the organization. These are major changes to the organizational structure. Resistance by managers may result from the altered status of the managers, fear of losing the job and loss of control and position and resultant frustration. Similarly, resistance from the employees may result from changes in their work routines and job responsibilities.

The widespread fears of losing the jobs may affect the morale of the employees and in some cases; the organization may stand to lose valuable human capital. In some instances, BPR attempts to eliminate unnecessary organizational positions and tasks. This is another area, which may give rise to doubts in the minds of the remaining workers about the continuance of their positions this is most likely to have an only negative impact when new BPR initiatives are introduced.

There are several other reasons because of which workers may resist the implementation of BPR projects. These include lack of team-oriented approach, lack of ability to be adjusted to new technologies and processes. The only possible solution to eliminate this barrier is to have an effective communication line open with the employees, through which the management has to explain the possible positive consequences of introducing the BPR initiatives. Janson (1993) thinks that effective and honest communication is critical for implementing the BPR process successfully. According to Katzenbach & Smith, (1993), it is also important that employees must have shared goals and mutual communication to have an effective BPR implementation.

Findings of the current research are in agreement with the opinion of Mumford (1998). The employees will be able to approve and accept any changes in the system if they are informed and trained before it is implemented for ensuring the success of the technique. The responses to the interview questions follow the recommendations of Grover and Malhotra (1997) that empowerment of employees is an important prerequisite for effective BPR implementation.

The authors recommend a bottom-up approach for the success of BPR projects. The results of the current research indicate that in the case of XYZ Company, there must be employee training and motivation if the company wishes to introduce BPR programs. Since BPR is intended to implement radical changes in the structure and processes, if the company applies a top-down approach, it may lead to frustration and resistance among the employees. The company may not be able to achieve the BPR goals fully when they are not communicated to the employees down the line effectively and completely.

The study endorses the view of Paper (2001) that the employees need to train and empowered for ensuring success in any change programs. The suggestion of the respondents that use of multi-functional teams for improving the performance of BPR projects confirms the need to train and empower the employees. The findings of this study are in agreement with the findings of the study by Knights & McCabe (2001) in that retaining the decision-making authority by the managers affects the smooth implementation of BPR projects.

The holding of such authority to make decisions contradicts with the principle of process orientation leading to the failure of BPR projects. This was one of the findings of this study as the respondents revealed that in the case of XYZ Company, the employees at lower levels do not have any chance of decision-making and this is a serious hindrance to the process of successful implementation of BPR in the company.

The respondents believe that this would lead to delay in execution of different aspects of BPR. The responses to the interview concur with the finding of Paper and Chang (2005) in that success in c change management can be achieved only when all the parties to the change process including employees, managers and top management are involved in the change process.

Leadership style of management has found a prominent place in this study for ensuring the effectiveness of BPR. According to Row (2001) and Avolio (1999), leadership is a potent source of management development and effective leadership contributes greatly to the enhancement in competitive advantages of the firms. Mehra et al (2006) reconfirm this view. Guzzo & Dickson, (1996) have studied the relationship between leadership and team performance and highlighted the strategic role of leadership in improving team performance. Based on the findings of the study it is reported that there is no evidence to prove a moral impact of the traditional leadership style of the management having centralized authority and the BPR initiatives in any organization.

This is because in the present day context the managers do not exhibit the traditional leadership qualities, as the work situations demand more autonomy to the employees at lower levels and there is the need to empower them to take decisions as most of the business meet complex situations. The view of Avery, (2004) covering the limitations of a traditional type of leadership apply in the real-life situation and therefore, the managers over time have withdrawn from following this leadership style. None of the respondents to the interview has indicated that he thinks that this type of leadership style will help BPR success. Purcell et al (2004) have identified the impact of intangible assets like leadership style and organizational culture on increasing the competence level of organizations.

The study finds evidence on the moral impact of the participative managerial qualities and the BPR initiatives in any organization. This kind of managers mostly follows work-related leadership styles. The respondents have indicated that these types of managers are keen on setting standards and observing the performance of the team members to assess their level of achievement. In some cases, the managers guide the team members and in some other instances; the managers allow the team members to make their own decisions to meet the exigencies of the situation.

This result corroborates the findings of Howell & Avolio, 1993 and Judge and Piccolo, 2004 concerning the behaviour of active managers adopting this style in monitoring the follower behaviour, anticipating problems and taking corrective actions before the behaviour creates serious problems. Managers following transactional leadership style offer some form of need satisfaction in return for something valued by the employees such as pay raises, promotions, improved job satisfaction or recognition.

The findings of the study answer the research question “To what extent, level of employee participation and management commitment will contribute to the success of the BPR projects in XYZ Company Saudi Arabia?” by specifying that employee participation and management commitment are the most important factors that determine the success of BPR projects in XYZ Company.

The findings suggest the development and use of multi-functional teams of employees for the successful implementation of BPR. The study also recommends that the top management of XYZ Company should change their style of leadership and adopt innovative qualities for ensuring the success of BPR projects. The research finds that the introduction of teamwork among the employees will ensure the success of BPR and employee participation has a large influence on the success of BPR projects in the company.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Though the research could not evolve a definite and generalizable conclusion, it has been a quite interesting and enjoyable experience. The objective of this research was to evaluate the level of employee participation and management commitment to successful BPR implementation. As a part of the study, the researchers undertook a semi-structured interview among the employees of XYZ Company in Saudi Arabia. Many researchers have focused on BPR implementation from different perspectives and in different settings. For example, the work of Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005), which was selected as the backbone of this research made a study on the barriers of BPR implementation on 33 companies in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia. The current

research focused only on the case of XYZ_ Company by studying the impact of employee participation and management commitment in ensuring the success of BPR implementations by the company. Hence, this paper can be seen as one that studied BPR implementation practices in a case study of a transformer manufacturing company in Saudi Arabia. The research work of Al-Hadi et al. helped greatly in gearing this research in the best possible manner.

The central focus of this research was on two main important areas of study: first, it studied the impact of employee participation on BPR success and second it attempted to evaluate the success of the BPR program proposed by XYZ_ Company as affected by the management committee. The following sections present the concluding comments for each of these parts separately to simplify the patterns of conclusion. A recommendation for future research is also presented as part of this chapter.

Theoretical Conclusions

While on theoretical considerations, the BPR literature was prominent between the early 1990s until 2001 with a higher level of professional contributions and empirical research (MacIntosh 2003). Work of Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005) was one of recent origin, which analyzed a number of BPR articles and ended up in identifying seven important barriers to be significant in influencing the success of BPR implementations. However, with the assistance of abundant research works and studies available in this field, several other barriers were identified.

However, one major setback for this study is that most of the prior literature except a few have focused on the enablers and barriers to successful BPR implementation and there were no studies, which addressed the employee participation and management commitment factors in the context of BPR implementation exclusively. Despite all the theoretical, methodological and analytical limitations, this study is the product of over 60 different highly important articles and books in the field contributed by eminent scholars and researchers. The findings of this work are based on a qualitative interview conducted among 15 respondents (around 68% response rate, and 2.5% of the overall population) from XYZ_ Company.

Being a qualitative study, no statistical analyses of the responses was undertaken. The respondents recognized and reinforced the importance of employee participation and management commitment for successful BPR implementation. It was also noticed that these factors are crucial for the success of a BPR project. This was obvious from the responses of the participants to the various questions posed to them during the interviews. If there is a conclusion to be drawn from these results, it is the fact that the sample population that participated in this study identified the important level of employee participation and management commitment for the success of BPR projects.

Practical Conclusions

This study was set up to evaluate the level of employee participation and management commitment to ensuring the success of BPR programs to be implemented in XYZ_ Company by using the findings of the study. It is essential to specify a few ground rules before making any judgments. More specifically, any conclusion can be drawn from the views of the respondents particularly and from this research generally, only when the company confirms that it is serious in adopting different Business Process Reengineering program and not another management change program for business improvement.

The respondents have indicated that employee participation is important for the success of BPR whether they believe that such participation is essential for a successful BPR program. The respondents also added their opinions about the program in light of their experience with the company. Many of them expressed their feelings whether such programs adopted by the company previously have failed or not. It was noted that the respondents were able to analyze and judge the BPR program in light of the theoretical considerations embedded in the interview questions. It is imperative at this stage to remind that many limitations hinder the credibility of this research.

As discussed before, some limitations are ranging from the relatively small amount of reading in the BPR field, the selection of qualitative over quantitative methodology, too low participation and the absence of managerial contribution in this study. As such, it is difficult to make a sharp conclusion about the fate of this program in light of all these limitations. Many respondents agree that the program has failed to address the different managerial aspects properly including decision-making pattern that jeopardize the BPR program. Therefore, it can be argued that the BPR implementation in the company is likely to suffer from a serious lacuna of the leadership style of the managers.

Recommendations for Future Researches

Several issues discussed in this research can lead to the identification of areas for conducting future researches. The following sections present a discussion of theoretical, methodological and practical recommendations for future researches.

Theoretical Recommendations

Even though this research was based on the work of Abdul-Hadi et al. (2005), that work could not be adopted fully, because the central focus of that study was to analyze the barriers to BPR implementation. His work analyzed 29 different barriers that are active in construction firms in Saudi Arabia. Since this research focused on just two factors of employee participation and management commitment, there were limitations on the number of studies on which the study could be based. It must be noted that more articles and readings should be included in this research for an in-depth review of the topic especially since the number of covered articled is relatively small compared to the number of articles in the BPR field, which focus on the specific topic of employee participation and management commitment.

Methodological Recommendations

The central focus of this research was to evaluate the impact of employee participation and management commitment on successful BPR program implementation in XYZ_ Company. Since BPR is a complicated management technique, it is expected that a qualitative interview might provide more accurate and in-depth information about the program especially if the interviews were conducted with senior management.

For example, when discussing employee participation for successful BPR project, more accurate and in-depth information can be obtained from the senior management level regarding strategic technicalities related to the implemented BPR project, let alone the translation of their body language and voice tone. However, there could not be more number of managers and employees included because of time constraint in conducting interviews. Therefore, this study recommends conducting a quantitative survey involving a large number of participants, which will increase the validity and generalizability of the findings.

Practical Recommendations

As shown earlier, only 2.5% of the total employees of the company participated in this study. This low participation is because interviews were conducted with only employees in the headquarters who knew about BPR initiatives. Perhaps this qualitative interview may be converted into a quantitative survey, and the questionnaire sent to other branches and more number of employees to secure higher participation to enhance the accuracy of the results and even the study may analyze the BPR barriers.


The current research on the effectiveness of BPR in XYZ Company, Saudi Arabia was expected to add to the existing knowledge on the factors influencing the success of the BPR projects in an engineering company. This topic of the dissertation has increased the understanding of the basic concept of BPR as well as the enablers and barriers for the successful implementation of BPR techniques. The review of relevant literature has added to the understanding of the theoretical aspects of BPR.

One of the major limitations that were anticipated was the response rate for the interview, because of the inherent fear of divulging company information by the employees, which may be disliked by the top management. Although a reasonable level of 80 to 90% of the selected employees was expected to respond to the questions on BPR contained in the interview questionnaire, several managerial problems and a low level of understanding among the employees about BPR were expected to affect the response rate. The employee attitude is another issue that might affect the response rate of the survey.

The present attitude of the employees has resulted in carelessness among them to respond positively to any measure taken to improve the performance of the organization. Therefore, it was expected that the number of employees who would cooperate with this study might be much less resulting in compromising on the validity of the findings. It was though that it might be necessary that considerable time needs to be spent on convincing the employees to cooperate by responding to the questions with their commitments. Another major concern was to collect the required information from the people at managerial positions. Managers are usually found to be uncooperative when it comes to the question of responding to interviews, claiming that they are preoccupied with other engagements.

There was another major validity issue, which was concerning the information and data collected from the respondents. The question that remained was whether all the selected respondent employees can understand the questions in their proper perspective and answer them, as their knowledge on the concept of BPR might be limited, which would affect the quality of their information. Similarly, the managers were likely to conceal material facts and respond positively to the questions. This would have had a tremendous impact on the reliability of information collected through the questionnaire.

The other aspects, which needed consideration, were the objectivity, ethical considerations and time constraints as these were likely to have a major impact on the conclusion of this research. Confidentiality was a major ethical consideration. Since employees were always working under fear of the management, the fear would be one of the crucial aspects affecting the study. The applicability of the theoretical aspects discussed in the various literature reviewed to the Saudi Arabian context is one of the issues that needed to be considered when using the review as secondary data, as there were only a few works of literature, which have considered the Saudi context.


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Appendix I Interview Questionnaire

  1. Which of the following factors in your opinion is essential to ensure the success of BPR projects?
    1. Teamwork
    2. Respect and recognition,
    3. Help and feedback,
    4. Clarity of roles and responsibilities or
    5. Training and developmen.
  2. What is the type of leadership the manager should adopt for his role to be more effective and positive in BPR approaches? Work-related leadership style or people-related leadership style
  3. Do you think that the number of BPR projects harm the success of BPR Projects?
  4. Do you agree that employee participation has a large influence on the success of BPR projects?
  5. Which of the following organizational Changes in your opinion is required to ensure the success of the BPR projects?
    1. Change in the number of employees
    2. The competence level of employees
    3. Changes in the employee roles
    4. Changes in the re-engineered processes in respect of the number of steps
    5. Change in management style
    6. Adoption of customer-focused processes
    7. Improvements in organizational shared values and benefits
    8. Change in the organization structure
  6. Do you think that business strategies have a strong influence on the implementation of BPR projects?
  7. Which of the following techniques in your opinion should help to improve the success of BPR projects?
    1. Changing employees result-oriented
    2. Introduction of customer-focused processes
    3. Introduction of creative and innovative ideas
    4. Increased commitment to the organization
    5. Increased team working
    6. Making employees accept responsibility
    7. Empowerment of employees
  8. Which of the following results one can expect by engaging BPR projects
  9. Do you agree that increased commitment of management will enhance the success rate of BPR projects?
  10. Which of the following managerial qualities need to be improved for ensuring the success of BPR projects?
    1. Innovative
    2. Building Consensus
    3. Democratic/Approachable
    4. Good communicating skills
    5. Ability to create a clear vision
    6. Ability to promote ownership
    7. Ability to inspire
    8. Ability to deal with problems effectively
    9. Ability to create a supportive environment