Business Process Reengineering and Human Resource Management

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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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What Hammer has done is not so much to concoct a novel recipe but to put a name to an emergent trend in business organization that has been prompted, above all, by an intensification of competition that intensifies the pressures upon executives to seek (radical) ways of gaining competitive advantage. His contribution, like that of earlier guru figures, resides in a flair for packaging and promoting an appealing product in a market where status-conscious consumers are, like the proverbial Emperor, anxious to espouse and sport the latest in management fashions.4
Hammer’s formulation of BPR promises radical (not just incremental) improvements in such areas as product development, product quality and speed of delivery. By undertaking a fundamental review and transformation of key business processes, Hammer’s focus is upon the leaps in performance that can be attained through the innovative use of ICTs. Instead of using
ICTs to ‘automate’ existing, functionally organized methods of production, Hammer urges that they be mobilised to redesign processes in ways that ‘obliterate’established practices.
‘It is time to stop paving the cow paths. Instead of embedding outdated
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