Business Process Reengineering and Human Resource Management Essay

6529 Words Nov 24th, 2011 27 Pages
Business Process Reengineering and Human Resource Management
Hugh Willmott
Judge Institute of Management
University of Cambridge, UK
A later version of this article appears in Personal Review, 23, 3: 34-46 (1994)
For more information on published articles by Hugh Willmott please refer to Process Reengineering and Human Resource Management
Hugh Willmott
Manchester School of Management, UMIST
This article reviews the Business Process Reengineering (BPR) vision of radical business process change, focusing upon the use of information technology to facilitate a shift away from linear/sequential work organization towards parallel processing and
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Given the number and variety of earlier solutions to unsatisfactory corporate performance that failed to fulfil their promise, it is not surprising to discover a degree of scepticism about
Business Process Reengineering (BPR), especially as its programmatic and abstract character makes it harder to pin down than recipes for strengthening corporate culture or building quality into every aspect of business activity
. Does BPR have a distinctive flavour or is it the same old imperialistic consultancy guff dressed up in new jargon?
Needless to say, business consultants have a vested interest in emphasising the novelty and potency of whatever variety of ‘snake oil’ they dispense to managers. But investment in previous recipes also means that they are inclined to interpret the new in terms of the old, and to repackage old wine in new bottles. In turn, this may lead to an overhasty dismissal of BPR as simply the latest in a line of fads that is distinguished from previous panaceas only by its achievement of a new nadir in the inelegance of its terminology. In our view, such treatment is unhelpful if it blinds us to the possibility that BPR represents and promotes something distinctive and innovative in its approach to the restructuring of business practices.
In common with previous recipes for improving business performance - from Taylorism to
TQM - BPR draws together, synthesises and provides an articulation for ideas and practices that

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