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Exploring the links between business process re-engineering and small and medium-sized enterprises

By Jeffrey Lih-Jen Chang


Despite a growing literature on business process re-engineering (BPR) principles and\ud prospects, there is little empirical research evaluating the success or failure of BPR\ud initiatives. This is especially so in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) where\ud the potential for BPR benefit may differ significantly from that in their larger\ud counterparts.\ud An examination of the literature on process re-engineering reveals that BPR guidelines\ud derived from the experiences in large organisations are inadequate for SMEs given the\ud different characteristics of SMEs in terms of size, structure, culture, resources and\ud technology. The objective of this research is to develop an appropriate basis of BPR\ud guidelines for SMEs. A pluralistic research method is used due to the exploratory nature\ud of the study and the absence of existing rigorous research in the area. This consists of a\ud questionnaire survey of 116 Taiwan-based SMEs, followed by case studies of eight\ud chosen organisations. The findings from the survey enable the researcher to modify the\ud proposed framework of BPR implementing for SMEs, and the case studies explore the\ud factors that facilitate/inhibit BPR success in SMEs in greater detail.\ud The study reveals an opportunity for SMEs to benefit from BPR efforts, although their\ud BPR initiatives are mainly inter-functional. Re-engineering in SMEs is often a response\ud to positive trends, and is largely dependent upon the owner-manager's perceived\ud benefits and risk-taking attitudes. A strategic vision as well as sound external relations\ud may leverage SMEs' re-engineering efforts to higher business integration, while a lack\ud of financial support and non-standardised IS infrastructure may restrict SMEs' BPR\ud initiatives to functional areas. Employee empowerment, dedication to R&D, and\ud innovative use of IT are intertwined and significantly related to BPR success. The study\ud concludes by outlining the principles of BPR guidelines for SMEs based on a modified\ud framework detailing the BPR environment in SMEs. These include a holistic and\ud strategic view towards BPR, the roles of owner-managers and employees, change\ud issues, and implementing BPR as a process change project

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