CCE Theses and Dissertations

A Model for Cultural Resistance in Business Process Re-engineering Failure

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Michael Moody


The need for a new way of conducting organizational business has been identified as essential to remaining competitive. Increasingly, businesses and organizations have turned to redesigning or re-engineering operational business processes to improve performance and competitiveness. Business process re-engineering (BPR) has become a methodology that management uses when radical change is required in organizations practices. Despite the widespread implementation of BPR, most projects have failed. A major reason for reengineering failure is cultural resistance.

The evidence about the culture in re-engineering suggests that the majority of BPR projects are implemented by cross-functional, multi-disciplined teams so that was the focus of the research. A review of the literature failed to provide a significant guideline that management could use to address cultural resistance. Accordingly, it was necessary to examine social issues in order to determine what management could do to reduce cultural resistance in BPR teams.

The hypothesis was that cultural resistance in BPR implementations can be reduced and that a model can be developed that will effectively guide management intervention into the implementation of BPR. Findings suggested that cultural resistance could be reduced, if the correct combination of team characteristics are present, such as: openness and candor, leadership that does not dominate, decisions by consensus, understood and accepted goals, progress and results assessed, comfortable atmosphere, common access to information, a win-win approach to conflict. Results indicate that these characteristics can be measured and relationships established using the Myers Briggs Temperament Index, the Belbin Leadership Model, and the Motivational Potential Score. The QFD Matrix has been demonstrated to provide a sound approach for assessment and relationships. Committees and a Pilot Group provided feedback during the development of the model.

It seems clear that BPR methodology, with a credible plan for social re-engineering implementation, can play a significant role in gaining competitive advantage in the modem organization. BPR without consideration of the social or cultural factors is likely to meet significant resistance. This resistance will result in disappointing re-engineering implementation results, wasting vital organizational resources.

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