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The Characteristics of Process Orientation. Part 7: Corporate Culture

Process orientation is also a matter of enterprise culture. The real problems when implementing the process orientation approach are of a cultural nature (Hinterhuber, 1995). The cultural fit is an important issue since people and processes must combine to produce output (Armistead and Machin, 1997). Only a culture based on teamwork, willingness to change, customer orientation, personal accountability, and a cooperative leadership style goes hand in hand with the process approach (Hammer, 2007).

  • Existence of inter-departmental teamwork. Process-oriented organization needs a culture which values teamwork, since business processes which cut across functions must be operated by people in a team (Hammer, 2007). Teams play an important role in process management, since e.g. a large process such as order fulfillment still requires working together across functional and/or geographical boundaries (Armistead and Rowland, 1996). Also, Hinterhuber (1995) states that a precondition for successful process management is employing empowered teams.
  • Customer-focused attitude of employees. Companies have to increasingly act and think in a customer-oriented way. It is often argued that organizations that emphasize functions and hierarchy fail to focus on the customer (Hinterhuber, 1995; Schmelzer and Sesselmann, 2006; Gulati, 2007). In contrast, in a process-oriented organization, each business process has a clearly defined customer who receives the result of the process (Schantin, 2004).
  • Employees’ accountability for enterprise results. Only organizations whose culture values personal accountability will find it possible to move forward with their degree of process orientation (Hammer, 2007). “Commitment to business success” is a cultural artifact exhibited by a process-centered organization (Hammer, 1996).
  • Employees’ attitude towards change. The lack of a change supportive culture is often named when process improvement actions fail (Tenner and DeToro, 2000). As business conditions change, process designs need to evolve, and it is the task of process owners to guide that evolution (Hammer and Stanton, 1999). A remarkable part of a company’s change-capability is based on its employees (Nyhuis et al., 2008).
  • Use of process language. Process orientation is a construct which becomes “real” through communication and interaction, i.e. the construct becomes real if it is communicated by means of language. By communicating about business processes and their design, process orientation becomes a reality (Gaitanides, 2007).

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