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Abstract

For years, managers have tried to improve organizational performance through business process transformation (BPT), and their experiences have informed IS research and practice. Although extant theory acknowledges the political nature of these dynamic transformation initiatives, researchers have yet to empirically investigate and theorize how organizational politics impacts BPT behaviors and outcomes. Drawing on a pluralist methodology, we present an embedded case study of a company-wide BPT project across four business units at the high-tech firm Terma. First, we apply different perspectives on organizational politics to develop detailed accounts of each business unit's response to the transformation initiative, which reveals four distinct patterns of BPT politics: “applying the hammer”, “struggling to engage”, “walking the talk”, and “keeping up appearances”. Next, we combine the empirical findings with extant literature to theorize how transformation agents and process users engage in politics during BPT implementation. As a result, our research leverages a pluralist approach to show how alternative political perspectives and forms of politics can help managers maneuver BPT initiatives in their roles as transformation agents and process users.

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