In Search of Well Established Models and Definitions for Process Management

Klara Palmberg
Division of Quality and Environmental Management, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

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Ingår i: 11th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organizational Development Attaining Sustainability From Organizational Excellence to SustainAble Excellence; 20-22 August; 2008 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 33:35, s. 407-419

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Publicerad: 2008-12-09


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Purpose: Process management has been around for a long time; but unlike that of many other management trends; the interest in process management has remained high. There is an ongoing discussion among both practitioners and scholars about how to best manage the value creating flows of activities that run through all organizations.

Numerous process definitions have been proposed; most of them fairly similar. Further; there are well established tools; such as process mapping and measurement; to be applied on individual processes. However; when it comes to managing processes on a strategic system level; process management; the notions and definitions used varies widely. A starting point for this paper is the idea that the lack of well established conceptual models of process management has a role in the difficulties facing organizations when trying to control their processes on a strategic level. A question is whether there really are some existing widespread and common models and definitions for process management in the literature?

Methodology: A structured literature review is used to identify contemporary models and definitions for process management.

Findings: There are several descriptions and definitions of process management presented in the literature; but none that seems to be really widespread and well established. There are similar components in the definitions of the concept of process the included literature which can be condensed into a net process definition.

The result and analysis of the definitions of process management in the included literature shows two different movements; (A) process management for single process improvement and (B) process management for system management.

The varying purposes of working with process management demonstrate a diverse need for both movements. Still; the focus of a majority of the identified tools and approaches for process management is to contribute to the more mechanistic movement (A) of systematically improving single processes.

There is a strong need for process management practitioners and researcher to develop and formulate approaches and tools that have the potential to contribute to process management not only on a single process level but on a strategic system level in the organization.

Value of paper: The paper provides a literature review and an aggregated description of existing models for process management. It also discusses the implications of the findings on process management in organizations and suggests further research.


Process management; models; definitions; literature review


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