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Business process management is mainly recognized for its capacity to manage ‘regular’ flows. However, real-world contexts often make it impossible to effectively follow the ‘regular’ flow. Therefore, increasing business process flexibility is paramount to fully realize business process management.

My attention to business process flexibility started with research on how to handle ‘true’ exceptions, which require humans to collaborate to overcome problems unaddressed by ‘regular’ flows. This research led to the development of resilience services supporting the detection, diagnosis, recovery, and escalation of process interventions [1]–[4].

My understanding of process flexibility evolved with parallel research on the adoption of process stories to elicit and model business processes [5]–[8]. By gathering a variety of process stories from the process participants, I realized that: 1) process participants develop very diverse views about the process, from abstract to detailed, and broad to narrow; 2) the process execution can vary significantly between uniform and unique cases; and 3) process participants develop numerous de facto practices to increase process flexibility.

More recently, I investigated how business process experts could use process stories to realize process flexibility [9]. I developed a metaphor for understanding the realization of process flexibility in business process management, which is based on the concept of friction: in the one hand, organizations push towards more flexibility, but on the other hand, people and technology in organizations also pull against flexibility. Using the interview method, I provide insights on the dynamics of friction in the business process management lifecycle.

My most recent research interest concerns the theoretical foundations of business processes, considering in particular how different conceptualizations of business process constrain the understanding and the implementation of process flexibility [10]. An early paper on this topic received the Best Theory Paper Award at the 2019 Australasian Conference on Information Systems [10]. This early study was followed by an expanded conceptualization of business process flexibility, which contributes an ontology of process conceptualization, and compares a set of competing process conceptualizations in regard to process flexibility [11]. This study suggests that increasing business process flexibility requires changing process conceptualization.


[1] P. Antunes, ‘BPM and Exception Handling: Focus on Organizational Resilience’, IEEE Transactions on System, Man, and Cybernetics Part C: Applications and Reviews, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 383–392, 2011.

[2] P. Antunes and H. Mourão, ‘Resilient Business Process Management: Framework and Services’, Expert Systems with Applications, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 1241–1254, 2011.

[3] P. Antunes and H. Mourão, ‘Adding a Resilience-Enhanced Component to the WfMC Reference Architecture’, in Proceedings of the 2009 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work in Design (CSCWD), Santiago, Chile, 2009, pp. 558–563. doi: 10.1109/CSCWD.2009.4968118.

[4] H. Mourão and P. Antunes, ‘Using WfMS to support unstructured activities’, in Handbook of Research on Business Process Modeling, J. Cardoso and W. Van Der Aalst, Eds. Information Science Reference, 2009. doi: 10.4018/978-1-60566-288-6.ch016.

[5] P. Antunes, J. Pino, and M. Tate, ‘Method for Eliciting and Analyzing Business Processes Based on Storytelling Theory’, in Proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, 2019.

[6] P. Antunes, J. Pino, M. Tate, and A. Barros, ‘Eliciting Process Knowledge Through Process Stories’, Information Systems Frontiers, vol. 22, pp. 1179–1201, 2019, doi: 10.1007/s10796-019-09922-0.

[7] D. Simões, P. Antunes, and J. Cranefield, ‘Enriching Knowledge in Business Process Modelling: A Storytelling Approach’, in Innovations in Knowledge Management: The impact of social media, semantic web and cloud computing, vol. 95, L. Razmerita, G. Phillips-Wren, and L. Jain, Eds. Heidelberg: Springer, 2016, pp. 241–267.

[8] D. Simões, P. Antunes, and L. Carriço, ‘Eliciting and Modelling Business Process Stories: A Case Study’, Business & Information Systems Engineering, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 115–132, 2018.

[9] N. Thuan, H. Ai-Phuong, M. Nkhoma, and P. Antunes, ‘Using Process Stories to Foster Process Flexibility: The Experts’ Viewpoint’, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, vol. to appear, 2021.

[10] P. Antunes, M. Tate, and J. Pino, ‘Business Processes and Flexibility: A Theoretical Perspective’, presented at the Australasian Conference on Information Systems, 2019.

[11] P. Antunes and M. Tate, ‘Business Process Conceptualizations and the Flexibility-Support Tradeoff’, Business Process Management Journal, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 856–875, 2022, doi: 10.1108/BPMJ-10-2021-0677.