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Reinventing Managerial Processes: How to effectively leverage the tensions underlying management innovation

Special issue call for papers from Business Process Management Journal

Guest Editors

Antonella Martini | University of Pisa | [email protected]
Mariano Corso| Politecnico di Milano | [email protected]
Emanuele Lettieri | Politecnico di Milano | [email protected]
Luca Gastaldi | Politecnico di Milano | [email protected]
Antonio Ghezzi | Politecnico di Milano | Antonio1.Ghezz[email protected]

Submission Deadline: December 31, 2013


The growth of competitive pressure over markets forces organisations to be excellent not only in the accomplishment
of the needs of today’s customers but also in the anticipation of tomorrow’s requests (Gupta, 2012; Solaimani and
Bouwman, 2012). Moreover, evidence (Eisenhardt et al., 2010) indicates that many firms inhabit increasingly dynamic
environments, where destabilising forces—such as technical innovation, globalised competition, socio-demographic
megatrends and entrepreneurial action—operate with amplified frequency (Schreyögg and Sydow, 2010). As a result,
organisations in all industries have to continuously reconfigure their structures and processes (Chrusciel et al., 2006),
sustain stability through replication and optimisation (Cartwright and Craig, 2006), ensure steady performances (Robson,
2004; Julienti Abu Bakar and Ahmad, 2010), and, at the same time, generate innovations in order to meet or create
future demands (Barros, 2007; Blasini and Leist, 2013).

Scholars have produced a vast body of evidence on these topics (e.g. Niehaves, 2010; Sidorova and Isik, 2010), but little
attention has been put on how managerial processes—i.e. the processes through which an organisation is managed—
should be innovated to cope with such challenges (Birkinshaw et al., 2008).

During the last decade a stream of literature (Hamel, 2007; Birkinshaw et al., 2008; Birkinshaw, 2010; Hamel, 2012)
has emerged around the topic of reinventing managerial processes. In fact, while the functions of management have
changed very little over the years (Hamel, 2007), the methods and the tools through which management is run have
changed dramatically (Hamel, 2012). Indeed, today’s managerial processes are not only highly interdependent (Paim,
et al., 2008; Aparecida da Silva et al., 2012), but also progressively embedded within dispersed and diverse organizational
processes at the operative level, where empowered employees are granted a wider span of control over the
processes they execute. As a result, managerial processes are increasingly critical in defining the success of a firm
(Hamel, 2012) and of an ecosystem of firms (Dougherty and Dunne, 2011).

According to Birkinshaw (2010), if on the one hand organizations tend to manifest inertial behaviours in dealing with new
managerial processes, on the other hand they are consistently looking for elements to improve these behaviours. As a
result, it is possible to observe a gradual shift from the traditional management processes—implicitly followed for
decades by managers—to innovative processes that seem more coherent with the current managerial landscape. This
transition is slowed down by the presence of a set of nested tensions, which are emanated through the act of managing
(Lewis, 2000) and persist entangled in the intra- and inter-organisational processes (Smith and Lewis, 2011) because
of the complex and adaptive nature of organisational systems (Martini et al., 2013). These tensions make organisations
comfortable with the traditional management processes (Smith and Tushman, 2005), and tend to trap organizations
in negative reinforcing cycles that exacerbate inertial behaviours once management processes are questioned.
Smith and Lewis (2011), however, believe that organizations can capture and exploit the enlightening potential of
these tensions (Lewis, 2000), which—If adequately harnessed—can be beneficial and powerful (Andriopoulos and
Lewis, 2009). The reason is that these tensions challenge actors’ cognitive limits, demanding creative sense making to
seeking more fluid, reflexive, and sustainable management processes (Smith and Lewis, 2011).

In order to “reinvent management” (Birkinshaw, 2010) it is necessary to focus and leverage on the tensions characterising
managerial processes as well as on the interplay between these last ones and the other processes present within
and among organisations.

Another emergent field of studies that relates to managerial processes and the measurement of their performance refers
to Positive Organizational Scholarship – POS (Cameron and Spreitzer, 2012; Grant and Parker, 2009). POS studies
suggest to balance and to integrate the traditional approaches to business excellence (e.g. innovation, efficiency, effectiveness,
gap analysis, structured problem solving) with the analysis of positive elements already existing in organizations
(in particular, employees' strengths and organization abilities), but not completely exploited, to direct them to
meaningful purpose and goals. The application of POS principles to define performance evaluation metrics can increase
the effectiveness of the broad managerial processes’ evaluation, and thus trigger a virtuous cycle: indeed, creativity,
problem-solving skill, and communication among managers are improved if the performance measures and indicators
used are framed in a positive manner (Cravens et al., 2010). A key process like Knowledge Management
thrives in positive organizational contexts, while it fails when the infrastructure establishing positive contexts is absent.
Drawing from POS, there is an emergence of new paradigms/perspectives and organizations need to adopt new
creative roles (such as cultural innovator, and community builder) for wider impact and better performance (Karakas,

Key Questions and Themes

The aim of this Special Issue is to publish a collection of high-quality articles that stem from a variety of management
disciplines. The Editors invite submissions that are empirically rich, methodologically rigorous, and theoretically insightful.
Theories and methodologies outside the traditional mainstream business processes literature are welcomed
(as insightful established theories are). For example, approaches not commonly seen include systems dynamics modelling,
simulation studies, action research, chaos modelling techniques, meta-analysis, event-based retrospectives, interpretive
methods, individual experiments and combinations of qualitative and quantitative analysis at various levels
of analysis. Cross-level analysis are also welcome. A special emphasis should be put in the development of actionable
knowledge for managers, who lack models, principles and methods to adapt the managerial processes to the unfolding
landscape, and whose multifaceted role should be driven to enhanced performance by the provisioning of original
and positive measures or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Papers will be evaluated using rigorous criteria associated with high-quality academic research—recognizing that we
are encouraging scholars to take risks in both the content and methods they use (Burrell and Toyama 2009). Papers in
this Special Issue will contribute to form a body of literature concerning the innovation of managerial processes, consisting
of both theory and data. Ideally, the papers will also describe how the consideration of such topic informs the
broader domain of the research on organisational and inter-organisational change and development. Pure theory papers
will be considered, provided that they demonstrate the novelty of the theory in real-world applications.
We encourage contributions that approach management process innovation from varied angles—such as different
phases of the process, level of analysis or target outcomes. The following questions illustrate some potential areas of
interest, but offer only a starting point that have and should be complemented:

- What are the tensions, their antecedents and consequences, which underline management innovation?
- Which levers can be used for managing or disrupting the tensions underlying management innovation?
- Which change and development paths are emerging and followed by organisations in order to innovate managerial
- Which are the “new boundaries” of managerial processes?
- How are Information and Communication Technologies used to enable and drive management innovation?
- What managerial processes and practices have to be developed in order to create and cultivate a “positive”
people management?
- How should the growingly multifaceted and stretched role of managers be adequately evaluated, so as to
trigger positive innovative performance?
- Which emerging measures and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be employed to assess the reinvented
managerial processes’ performance? How traditional processes’ KPIs should be reinterpreted or updated?
- Through which actions (e.g. education; evaluation) could paradoxical thinking be promoted among the broad
community of managers?

All papers that satisfy initial editorial screening will be processed using the conventional BPMJ double blind review
process. Publication is targeted for late 2014.


Andriopoulos C., Lewis M.W. (2009) “Exploration-Exploitation Tensions and Organizational Ambidexterity: Managing
Paradoxes of Innovation”, Organization Science, 20(4): 696–717.
Aparecida da Silva L., Martins Damian I.P., Dallavalle de Pádua S.I. (2012) "Process Management Tasks and Barriers:
Functional to Processes Approach", Business Process Management Journal, 18(5): 762–776.
Barros O. (2007) "Business Process Patterns and Frameworks: Reusing Knowledge in Process Innovation", Business
Process Management Journal, 13(1): 47–69.
Birkinshaw J. (2010) Reinventing Management: Smarter Choices for Getting Work Done, San Francisco (CA): Jossey-Bass.
Birkinshaw J., Hamel G., Moi M.J. (2008) “Management Innovation”, Academy of Management Review, 33(4): 825–845.
Blasini J., Leist S. (2013) "Success Factors in Process Performance Management", Business Process Management Journal,
19(3): 477–495.
Cameron K.S., Spreitzer G.M. (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, New York (NY): Oxford
University Press.
Cartwright W., Craig J.L. (2006) "Sustainability: Aligning Corporate Governance, Strategy and Operations with the
Planet", Business Process Management Journal, 12(6): 741–750.
Chrusciel D., Field D.W. (2006) “Success Factors in Dealing with Significant Change in an Organization”, Business Process
Management Journal, 12(4): 503–516.
Cravens K.S., Oliver E.G., Stewart J.S. (2010) “Can a Positive Approach to Performance Evaluation Help Accomplish
your Goals?”, Business Horizons, 53(3): 269–279.
Dougherty D., Dunne D.D. (2011) “Organizing Ecologies of Complex Innovation”, Organization Science, 22(5): 1214–1223.
Eisenhardt K.M., Furr N.R., Bingham C.B. (2010) “Micro-foundations of Performance: Balancing Efficiency and Flexibility
in Dynamic Environments”, Organization Science, 21(6): 1263–1273.
Grant A.M., Parker S.K. (2009) “Redesigning Work Design Theories: The Rise of Relational and Proactive Perspectives”,
Academy of Management Annals, 3(1): 317–375.
Gupta V.K. (2012) “Flexible Strategic Framework for Managing Forces of Continuity and Change in Retail Banking Business
Processes in India”, Business Process Management Journal, 18(4): 553–575.
Hamel G. (2007) The Future of Management, Cambridge (MA): Harvard Business School Press.
Hamel G. (2012) What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable
Innovation, San Francisco (CA): Jossey-Bass.
Julienti Abu Bakar L., Ahmad H. (2010) "Assessing the Relationship between Firm Resources and Product Innovation
Performance: A Resource-based View", Business Process Management Journal, 16(3): 420– 435.
Karakas F. (2009) “New Paradigms in Organizational Development in the 21st Century: Positivity, Spirituality, and
Complexity”, Organization Development Journal, 27(1): 11–26.
Lewis M.W. (2000) “Exploring Paradox: Toward a More Comprehensive Guide”, Academy of Management Review,
25(4): 760–776.
Martini A., Laugen B.T., Gastaldi L., Corso M. (2013) “Continuous Innovation: Towards a Paradoxical, Ambidextrous
Combination of Exploration and Exploitation”, International Journal of Technology Management, 61(1): 1–22.
Niehaves B. (2010) "Open Process Innovation: The Impact of Personnel Resource Scarcity on the Involvement of Customers
and Consultants in Public Sector BPM", Business Process Management Journal, 16(3): 377–393.
Paim R., Caulliraux H.M., Cardoso R. (2008) "Process Management Tasks: A Conceptual and Practical View", Business
Process Management Journal, 14(5): 694–723.
Robson I. (2004) "From Process Measurement to Performance Improvement", Business Process Management Journal,
10(5): 510 – 521.
Schreyögg G., Sydow J. (2010) “Organizing for Fluidity? Dilemmas of New Organizational Forms”, Organizational Science,
21(6): 1251–1262.
Sidorova A., Isik O. (2010) “Business Process Research: A Cross-disciplinary Review”, Business Process Management
Journal, 16(4): 566–597.
Smith W.K., Lewis M.W. (2011) “Toward a Theory of Paradox: A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of Organizing”, Academy
of Management Review, 36(2): 381–403.
Smith W.K., Tushman M.L. (2005) “Managing Strategic Contradictions: A Top Management Model for Managing Innovation
Streams”, Organization Science, 16(5): 522–536.
Solaimani S., Bouwman H. (2012) “A Framework for the Alignment of Business Model and Business Processes: A Generic
Model for Trans-sector Innovation”, Business Process Management Journal, 18(4): 655–679.