86 Int. J. Organisational Design and Engineering, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
The discipline of enterprise engineering
Jan L.G. Dietz*
Delft University of Technology,
P.O. Box 5015, 2600GA, Delft, The Netherlands
Jan A.P. Hoogervorst
Antwerp Management School,
Sint-Jacobsmarkt 9-13, BE-2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Antonia Albani, David Aveiro, Eduard Babkin,
Joseph Barjis, Artur Caetano,
Philip Huysmans, Junichi Iijima,
Steven J.H. van Kervel, Hans Mulder,
Martin Op ‘t Land, Henderik A. Proper,
Jorge Sanz, Linda Terlouw, José Tribolet,
Jan Verelst and Robert Winter1
Abstract: A century ago, Taylor published a landmark in the organisational
sciences: his Principles of Scientific Management. Many researchers have
elaborated on Taylor’s principles, or have been influenced otherwise. The
authors of the current paper evaluate a century of enterprise development, and
conclude that a paradigm shift is needed for dealing adequately with the
challenges that modern enterprises face. Three generic goals are identified. The
first one, intellectual manageability, is the basis for mastering complexity;
current approaches fall short in assisting professionals to master the complexity
of enterprises and enterprise changes. The second goal, organisational
concinnity, is conditional for making strategic initiatives operational; current
approaches do not, or inadequately, address this objective. The third goal,
social devotion, is the basis for achieving employee empowerment as well as
knowledgeable management and governance; modern employees are highly
educated knowledge workers; yet, the mindset of managers has not evolved
accordingly. The emerging discipline of Enterprise Engineering, as conceived
by the authors, is considered to be a suitable vehicle for achieving these goals.
It does so by providing new, powerful theories and effective methodologies. A
theoretical framework is presented for positioning the theories, goals, and
fundamentals of enterprise engineering in four classes: philosophical,
ontological, ideological and technological.
Keywords: scientific management; enterprise engineering; enterprise ontology;
enterprise architecture; enterprise design; enterprise governance; enterprise
The discipline of enterprise engineering 87
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Dietz, J.L.G.,
Hoogervorst, J.A.P., Albani, A., Aveiro, D., Babkin, E., Barjis, J., Caetano, A.,
Huysmans, P., Iijima, J., van Kervel, S.J.H., Mulder, H., Op ‘t Land, M.,
Proper, H.A., Sanz, J., Terlouw, L., Tribolet, J., Verelst, J. and Winter, R.
(2013) ‘The discipline of enterprise engineering’, Int. J. Organisational Design
and Engineering, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.86–114.
Biographical notes: Jan L.G. Dietz is Emeritus Professor in Information
Systems Design and a Professor in Enterprise Engineering at Delft University
of Technology. He received his Doctoral degree in Computer Science from
Eindhoven University of Technology. He has published over 250 scientific and
professional articles and books. His current research interests are in the theory
and practice of enterprise engineering. He is the spiritual father of the DEMO
methodology, founder and Honorary Chairman of the Enterprise Engineering
Institute, founder and Chairman of the international research network CIAO!,
the Director of Sapio Enterprise Engineering, and the Editor-in-Chief of the
Springer book series on enterprise engineering.
Jan A.P. Hoogervorst studied electrical engineering at the Delft University of
Technology, and obtained his PhD in Work and Organisational Psychology
from the Amsterdam Free University. At KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, he held
various executive management positions. This extensive management expertise
forms the inspiration for teaching and research, enterprise governance and
enterprise engineering, aiming to provide an overarching multidisciplinary
perspective to integrate and unify insights from the traditional organisational
sciences into an overall enterprise design perspective. He is a (part-time)
Professor at the Antwerp Management School. His thoughts are reflected in the
book Enterprise Governance and Enterprise Engineering.
Antonia Albani holds Master and PhD degrees in Computer Science. She
is a Senior Researcher at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Previously,
she was an Assistant Professor at the Delft University of Technology, The
Netherlands. She is a cofounder of the research network Cooperation &
Interoperability – Architecture & Ontology (CIAO!) (http://www.ciaonetwork.
org) and member of the CIAO! executive board. She worked in IT consulting
and was CEO and cofounder of an internet start-up in the area of business
process outsourcing. Her main research interests are on service innovation and
David Aveiro is an Invited Assistant Professor at the Exact Sciences and
Engineering Centre of the University of Madeira in Portugal. His research
interests include organisational engineering and organisational change. His
teaching interests include organisational engineering, database management
systems and decision support systems. He received his MSc degree and his
PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems Engineering from the
Instituto Superior Técnico of the Technical University of Lisbon.
Eduard Babkin is a Professor at the National Research University ‘Higher
School of Economics’ (Russia). Currently, he is the Head of the Department of
Information Systems and Technologies at that university, and both an associate
member of LITIS laboratory at the National Institute of Applied Sciences
(Rouen, France). He has ten years of practical experience in R&D, architecting
and project management of complex distributed systems for large international
telecommunication companies. In 2007, he obtained his PhD in Computer
Science at the National Institute of Applied Sciences. His scientific interests
include enterprise engineering, multi-agent systems, knowledge representation
88 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
Joseph Barjis is an Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology.
His research includes enterprise engineering, modelling and simulation,
and systems engineering. He has published in journals such as Enterprise
Information Systems, Information Systems Frontiers, SIMULATION –
Transaction of The Society for Modeling and Simulation International, and
Journal of Enterprise Transformation. His research resulted in 13 edited
conference books, 14 book chapters, 23 journal articles and editorials, Guest
Editor of 10 special issues, and over 70 papers in refereed conferences. He has
been an invited speaker to international forums, general chair of international
workshops and serves in the editorial board of journals.
Artur Caetano is an Assistant Professor in Information Systems at the Instituto
Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, Researcher
at the Information Systems Group, INESC-ID, and Unit Coordinator of the
Centre for Organizational Design & Engineering, INESC-INOV. He has
published over 50 articles related to enterprise architecture, business process
modelling, service-oriented architectures and object-oriented modelling. He has
participated in European projects related to these topics and regularly serves the
editorial board of journals and the programme committee of conferences related
to the theme of enterprise engineering. He is a member of ACM, IEEE and
Philip Huysmans is a Post-doctoral Researcher in Management Information
Systems at the University of Antwerp (BE) and a member of the Normalized
Systems Institute. His main research interests are in normalised systems,
enterprise engineering and enterprise architecture. In addition to being a
speaker at international conferences and publishing in international journals, he
teaches courses on software analysis and design, enterprise architecture and
DEMO at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. He is also a board member
of the Enterprise Engineering Institute.
Junichi Iijima is a Professor in Information Systems at Tokyo Institute of
Technology (TokyoTech, JPN). He is the Dean of the Graduate School of
Decision Science and Technology of TokyoTech in 2011–2012. He has
published over 200 scientific and professional articles and books. His current
research interests are in the theory and practice of enterprise engineering.
He is a former President of JASMIN (Japan Association for Management
Information) that is the largest association on information systems in Japan, and
the current Vice President of the Society of Business Process Management.
Steven J.H. van Kervel is currently the Director of Formetis BV, The
Netherlands (http://www.formetis.nl). His current research interest is in
enterprise engineering and model-driven information systems engineering,
based on the DEMO methodology. His previous research and development
includes analogue and digital electronics, medical ultrasound technology, and
CDROM technology. He has also developed an object-oriented environment
for low-structured document information systems. He received his MSc in
Electrical Engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology and his
PhD in Software Engineering from the Delft University of Technology.
Hans Mulder is an Executive Professor of Enterprise Engineering at Antwerp
Management School (AMS), TUDelft TopTech, Dirksen University of Applied
Sciences and Lecturer at the Police Academy of the Netherlands. He is
the Chairman of NOVI University of Applied Sciences and the platform
ICT-Hogescholen in which seven universities of applied sciences collaborate
in the innovation of ICT exams. He received his PhD degree at Delft University
of Technology (Information Systems Department). He founded the Venture
The discipline of enterprise engineering 89
Informatisering Adviesgroep N.V. (VIAgroep) and has several positions in IT
industry. He is the founder of Meeting-lab.nl, Advisor of Inventive Academy,
the Chief Technology Officer of B-Able and the Chairman of the supervisory
board of Finalist and Five4U.
Martin Op ‘t Land works as a Principal Consultant and Certified Enterprise
Architect at Capgemini with 28 years of experience in coherently (re)shaping
organisation and information of extended enterprises in splits, mergers and
alliances. He combines this with research and education as a Professor of
Enterprise Engineering at the University of Antwerp Management School. He
developed an evidence-based accelerator for effective organisation splitting and
allying (PhD, 2008) and wrote Enterprise Architecture – Creating Value by
Informed Governance (Springer, 2009). He is a board member of the Enterprise
Engineering Institute, participant in the international research network CIAO!
and Editor of the Springer Enterprise Engineering Series.
Henderik A. Proper is a Professor of Information Systems at the Radboud
University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He is one of the co-initiators of the
development of the ArchiMate language for enterprise architecture. He is
currently a Senior Research Manager at Public Research Centre – Henri Tudor
in Luxembourg, where he leads the research programme on enterprise
engineering. He has co-authored two books on enterprise architecture, and
provided substantial contributions to two other books on this topic. He is also
the Editor-in-Chief of a book series on enterprise engineering, published by
Springer. His home on the web can be found at http://www.erikproper.eu.
Jorge Sanz has more than 20 years of research and practical experience in
business transformation and the interplay with technical areas of information
sciences and communication technologies. He works for IBM Research in
San Jose, California. He was the Director for Innovative Technologies in IBM
World Trade. He actively consults for European, North American and Latin
American companies. He was a Full Professor in the USA and the President
of a business and economics school in Latin America. He has more than
130 published papers and several books. He is a Fellow of the IEEE Society.
Linda Terlouw received both her MSc in Computer Science and Msc in
Business Information Technology from the University of Twente. She started
her career working for IBM. In 2005, she joined the SOA Consulting Group of
Ordina, a large IT services provider in the Netherlands. In the same year, she
went back to the academia (part-time) to pursue her PhD in Computer Science
at the Delft University of Technology. The focus of this research was the
specification of services working from formal organisational models. The
research was part of the CIAO! Program. In 2009, she started the company
José Tribolet is a Full Professor of Information Systems at the Instituto
Superior Técnico (IST), Portugal. His main academic interests are in enterprise
architecture, engineering, governance and transformation. Since 2000, he has
supervised nine PhD students. He has published over 200 scientific papers and
professional articles. He plays a leading role in the CIAO! Consortium and
is Co-editor of the Springer Enterprise Engineering book series. He maintains
an active professional profile. He plays a leading advisory role in GPERRTIC,
a national strategic programme to rationalise and improve the information
systems and ITC infrastructures of the Portuguese public administration.
90 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
Jan Verelst received his PhD in Management Information Systems from the
Faculty of Applied Economics of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 1999.
His research interests focus on methodologies for the development of
normalised systems. He is the Chairman of the Department of Management
Information Systems at the University of Antwerp, where he teaches courses on
methodologies concerning analysis and design of information systems. He is
also a Professor at the Antwerp Management School, where he lectures in the
executive master in enterprise IT architecture.
Robert Winter is Tenured Chair of Business and Information Systems
Engineering at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and the Director of HSG’s
Institute of Information Management. After receiving his Master degrees in
Business Administration and Business Education as well as his Doctorate in
Social Sciences from Goethe University, Frankfurt, and eleven years as a
Researcher and Deputy Chair, he joined HSG in 1996. His research interests
include situational method engineering, enterprise architecture management,
transformation management and corporate controlling systems. He is the Vice
Editor-in-Chief of Business & Information Systems Engineering as well as
member of the editorial boards of EJIS, ISeB and EMISA.
A century ago, Taylor (1911) published his famous paper, titled The Principles of
Scientific Management. In the present paper, we take the anniversary of Taylor’s seminal
paper as an opportunity to look back at a century of theory and practice in enterprise2
development in general, to assess the current state, and to propose a radical new way of
addressing current problems, under the name of ‘enterprise engineering’, pursuing three
generic goals: intellectual manageability, organisational concinnity, and social devotion.
Up to now, the field of enterprise engineering, as we conceive it, does not include the
study of the business of an enterprise, thus its role in the society, or its market. Such
sociological and economic studies must certainly be included in the future.
1.1 Critiques on scientific management
Over the years, scientific management has contributed to significant increases in the
productivity of enterprises. Typical characteristics of the scientific management approach
are the minute division of labour in simple, repetitive tasks, and the clear separation
between thinking and doing. Workers are instrumentally viewed as parts of the enterprise
‘machine’. According to Taylor, a man fit to do the manual work is however unfit to
understand the science of doing his work. Hence, managerial control is essential. Taylor’s
perspective is supported by contemporary writers, such as Fayol (1990) and Weber
Taylor’s approach has been heavily criticised. Basically, two kinds of criticisms can
be identified. The first one regards ethical considerations concerning the deployment of
human capacities in enterprises. Various researchers have argued that the principles of
scientific management lead to worker deprivation and alienation, and to destroying the
meaning of work itself (Fromm, 1942, 1955; Mintzberg, 1989). These phenomena were
already visible a few years after Taylor published his paper, when his principles were
The discipline of enterprise engineering 91
practiced in Ford’s car manufacturing: workers’ jobs were depleted of skill, autonomy
and control, leading to extreme worker turnover rates (Hounshell, 1984). Contenders of
Taylor thus argue the importance of employee development, self-initiated behaviour, and
Considerations concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of enterprises constitute
the second kind of criticism. Essentially, the critique boils down to two aspects. First,
the notion that proper attention to employees as a social group can significantly
enhance enterprise effectiveness and efficiency, as for example, evidenced by the
classical Hawthorne studies (Mayo, 1949). Noteworthy within this perspective is the
‘socio-technical approach’ – introduced by the seminal work of Trist and Bamforth
(1951) – that argues the mutual relationship between the social and technological
‘system’ of an enterprise. Hence, these systems must be jointly designed since they can
mutually support each other to enhance enterprise effectiveness and efficiency. Second, it
is argued that the mere instrumental view on employees – workers as labour resources –
undervalues human cognitive and social capacities. This shift in focus is evidenced by
landmark publications like McGregor (1960), Likert (1965) and Katz and Kahn (1978).
The shift in focus considers employees, and their involvement and participation, as the
critical core for enterprise success. Rightly so, Drucker (1985) considers aspects of
human behaviour as the primary concerns of management science. As Drucker (1985,
p.602) puts it: “the test of a healthy business is not the beauty, clarity or perfection of its
organizational structure, it is the performance of people”.
Next to the involvement of employees for productivity improvement, said
involvement is also essential for a focus on quality, as well as on service and customer
orientation (Hoogervorst, 1998). Moreover, one might observe that the character of work
has shifted, for a considerable part, from physical labour to intellectual labour: creating,
processing, integrating and applying knowledge (Drucker, 1991, 1992). It is virtually all
about making knowledge productive (Drucker, 1993). Within this perspective, enterprise
learning3 is, and will increasingly become, an indispensable competence. Learning is a
prerequisite for innovation, adaptation and change. Again, the focus on employees is
crucial. Evidently, a learning enterprise is inconceivable without the individual learning
of employees, on whose skills and commitment enterprise learning rests (Argyris and
Schön, 1978; Kim, 1993). This type of learning acknowledges the non-planned, emerging
character of many enterprise developments (Hoogervorst, 2009). Hence, employee
involvement and participation is essential for addressing enterprise dynamics,
complexity, and uncertainty. Enterprise change, hence redesign, is thus fuelled by
enterprise learning. As Weick (2001) observes, redesign is a continuous activity whereby
the responsibility for (re)design is dispersed and rests with enterprise members who are
coping with the ‘unexpected’.
1.2 Other approaches to enterprise development
Over the years, various other approaches have been proposed in addition to, or as a
replacement for, Taylor’s principles of scientific management in order to enhance
enterprise performance, or to manage change. The list is impressive: activity-based
costing, balanced score card, business process management, business process
reengineering, customer relationship management, e-business, end-to-end (supply) chain
management, enterprise resource planning, lean production, learning organisation,
mergers and acquisitions, quality function deployment, Six Sigma, total quality
92 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
management, and so on. Many, if not all, of these initiatives heavily depend on the
successful utilisation of ICT services.
Based on reviews of these approaches, their successful application in enterprises is
limited: the majority of initiatives showed less than the expected results (referenced in
Hoogervorst, 2009). Also from the general perspective on enterprise strategic initiatives,
the picture is not overly favourable. Mintzberg (1994) speaks of less than 10% success
rate. Other sources show comparable figures. According to Kaplan and Norton (2004),
many studies show that between 70% and 90% of strategic initiatives fail, meaning that
the expected results are not achieved. Based on an extensive literature research,
Keller and Price (2011) conclude that no progress has been made since Kotter’s (1996)
publication. Whereas all too often, for convenience sake, unforeseen or uncontrollable
events are presented as the causes of failure, research has shown that strategic failure is
mostly the avoidable result of inadequate strategy implementation. Rarely is it the
inevitable consequence of a poor strategy. A plethora of literature indicates that the
key reason for strategic failures is the lack of coherence and consistency, collectively
also called congruence, among the various components of an enterprise. This notion
has been reported from various angles, such as organisational change programmes (Beer
et al., 1990; Kaufman, 1992; Miles and Snow, 1984), quality and service improvement
(Hevner, 2007), strategic transformation (Kotter, 1988; Leinwand and Mainardi, 2010;
Pettigrew, 1998), and enterprise redesign (Miles et al., 1995).
Enterprise engineering is a new, holistic approach to address enterprise changes, of all
sizes and in all kinds of enterprises. Because of its holistic, systemic, approach, it
resembles systems engineering (Sage, 1992; Stevens et al., 1998). But it differs from it in
an important aspect: enterprise engineering aims to do for enterprises (which are basically
conceived as social systems) what systems engineering aims to do for technical systems.
1.3 The crucial role of ICT
Progress in the area of information and communication technology (ICT) has enabled the
creation of massive amounts of data associated with enterprise processes. Work is no
longer merely automated (to enhance productivity), but ‘informated’ (Zuboff and
Maxmin, 2002). As indicated earlier, work has almost become synonymous with
‘knowledge work’: the processing of physical assets is increasingly replaced or
complemented by the processing of intellectual assets (Drucker, 1991, 1993). Making
knowledge productive thus amounts to integrating knowledge (information) into a
common task. Creating and sharing knowledge is considered crucial for gaining
competitive advantage (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Evidently, this holds likewise for
the competence of enterprise learning. It seems superfluous to stress the importance of
ICT for enterprise learning, hence for the ability to improve, adapt, and change. Without
enterprise learning, these changes cannot be established.
From the perspective of the ‘relationship economy’ the new capabilities and
possibilities created by information and communication technology are essential for
successfully pursuing long-standing relationships with customers, and for employees
supporting them. The vast amount of actions and data pertinent to customers, and their
relationships, desires and needs, can only be meaningfully and effectively addressed with
the help of ICT. Deep support cannot take place outside the digital medium (Zuboff and
Maxmin, 2002). Additionally, ICT makes customer self-support possible and valuable.
Moreover, since establishing relationships cannot take place within the principles of the
The discipline of enterprise engineering 93
transaction economy, the nature of ICT utilisation must change; not only for effectuating
customer support and proactively exploiting the relationship in a value-adding manner,
but also for making the economic value of customer relationships explicit.
Finally, one can observe the increasing ‘commoditisation’ of basic products and
services. Customers can easily switch between suppliers of commodities. However,
highly valued individual supportive relationships with customers are anything but a
commodity. Hence, they can create considerable competitive advantages. Despite these
advantages, however, the wide penetration of ICT causes an enormous increase in the
complexity of the design of ICT applications.
1.4 Enterprises as organised complexities
Creating a unified and integrated enterprise is by no means simple. An enterprise is an
intentionally created entity of human endeavour (Robbins, 1990; Daft, 2001). Enterprises
are organised complexities (Weinberg, 2001): highly complex, as well as highly
organised. Unlike problems of ‘organised simplicity’ that can be dealt with analytically,
or problems of ‘unorganised complexity’ that can be addressed statistically, the large
problem area of ‘organised complexity’ is in need of a formal approach (Weinberg,
2001). The apparent lack of a theory for addressing the problem of organised complexity
was mentioned decades ago as a core problem confronting modern science (Weaver,
1967; von Bertalanffy, 1969). Nonetheless, one might raise the question why general
systems theory (GST), lasting for over 50 years, has not been successful in this area. Our
brief answer would be that the general system theory lacks methodological concepts to
address enterprises in all their facets, and to effectively incorporate insights from the
traditional organisational sciences within the enterprise design perspective. Next, GST
over-emphasises the function perspective on systems (black-box thinking), to the neglect
almost of the construction perspective (white-box thinking).
Adding to this is the observation that enterprises are complex adaptive systems
whereby it is impossible to determine the ultimate (operational) reality of the enterprise
down to the minute details. Hence, trying to specify such reality exhaustively and
mechanically – as some systems engineering approaches suggest – and aiming to control
it in every detail, seems useless. Instead one must find appropriate approaches to master
enterprise complexity at effective levels (Axelrod and Cohen, 2001).
We are fully aware of the fact that our paper is not the first plea for a discipline of
enterprise engineering. For example, more than a decade ago, Martin (1995, p.58) stated
that “enterprise engineering is an integrated set of disciplines for building or changing an
enterprise, its processes, and systems”. With deep insight he foresaw that “a new type of
professional is emerging – the enterprise engineer” [Martin, (1995), p.xii]. It coincided
with the founding paper by Liles et al. (1995) and the set up of the International Society
for Enterprise Engineering4, which unfortunately seems not be active anymore. Likewise,
the current status of enterprise engineering initiatives as taken by several universities, is
unclear. They seem to be mere extensions of the fields of industrial engineering or
business process management. Notwithstanding the importance of these fields, the
organised complexity of enterprises necessitates in our view a radically renewed attention
to the idea of enterprise engineering, so that enterprise design addresses the enterprise
holistically, while being based on a sound and rigorous scientific foundation.
At the same time, the need to operate as an integrated whole is becoming increasingly
important. Globalisation, the removal of trade barriers, deregulation, and so on, have led
94 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
to networks of cooperating enterprises on a large scale, enabled by the enormous
possibilities of modern ICT. Future enterprises will therefore have to operate in an even
more dynamic and global environment than the current ones. They need to be more agile,
more adaptive, and more transparent. Moreover, they will be held more publicly
accountable for every effect they produce. Within enterprise engineering, these
‘buzzword like’ qualities are made crisp and clear, firmly connected to the generic goals,
and achieved through systematic enterprise redesign, guided by design principles.
2 Motivation for enterprise engineering
2.1 The importance of design
An enterprise is an intentionally created cooperative of human beings with a certain
societal purpose. The intentional character of enterprise creation requires design
activities. For some, the term ‘design’ in the context of enterprises has uncomfortable
connotations, as it is associated with mechanistic approaches to enterprises: arranging
them as if they are machines. The ‘social engineering’ label is sometimes used to identify
the mechanistic view on organisation and management (Tsoukas, 1994). This approach
essentially equates management with control, with the associated conviction that by using
certain ‘controls’ management is able to steer the enterprise ‘machine’ (top-down) within
the desired range of operation. The enterprise is thereby assumed to be an objective
entity, external to management, which, like a machine, merely needs to be controlled.
This appears to be the perspective espoused by Taylor; it has been criticised above.
Our notion of design, however, must be interpreted broadly and seen as devising
“courses of action aimed at changing existing (enterprise) situations into preferred ones”
[Simon, (1969), p.111]. Indeed, as emphasised earlier, we consider design as an activity
based on enterprise learning whereby enterprise members cope with the ‘unexpected’
much like Weick’s metaphor of an ‘improvisational theatre’ (Tsoukas, 1994), as opposed
to the traditional ‘architecture’ metaphor. This point of view also accommodates the
notion of emergence, as discussed in Taylor and van Every (2000). Moreover, and
underlining the observation made earlier, the responsibility for (re)design is dispersed and
rests with all enterprise members. Design concerns on one hand understanding the
strategic intentions that are to be operationalised, and on the other hand, arranging this to
happen. As Winograd and Flores (1987, p.3) put it: design concerns “the interaction
between understanding and creation”.
The focus on design has enormous practical implications, and is associated directly
with strategic and operational enterprise success (Nadler and Tushman, 1997).
Unfortunately, the importance of design is not generally recognised by management. A
fairly recent McKinsey report argued that “most corporate leaders overlook a golden
opportunity to create a durable competitive advantage and generate high returns for less
money and less risks: making organizational design the heart of strategy”. Managers
traditionally focus on structural arrangements for enterprise change; however, “they
would be better off by focusing on organizational design” [Bryan and Joyce, (2007),
p.22]. Hence, “organizational design, we believe, should be about developing and
implementing corporate strategy” [Bryan and Joyce, (2007), p.25].
The discipline of enterprise engineering 95
2.2 The needed paradigm shift
Over the years (academic) insights have been developed about how to
1 enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of enterprises
2 effectively ensure quality, service and customer orientation
3 avoid core reasons for strategic failure (e.g., Beer et al., 1990; Deming, 1986; Nadler
and Tushman, 1997; Pettigrew, 1998).
One would expect that a century after Taylor published his principles of scientific
management their influence would have vanished. However, it appears not to be the case.
As Doz and Thanheiser (1993, p.296) observed at the end of the previous century:
“despite the ‘modernization’ of corporate structures and systems, the mindset of
managers appears to be remarkably similar to the Taylorist model developed at the
beginning of the century”. Thus, principles that follow from “a machine-like concept of
the organization still dominate managerial practice” (ibid.). Others argue that
“corporations continue to operate according to a logic invented at the time of their origin,
a century ago” [Zuboff and Maxmin, (2002), p.3]. Specifically concerning the use of ICT,
the picture seems not radically different. Despite the alternative perspectives to Taylor
presented in Section 1.2 – including the value-adding, competitive use of ICT – the
Taylorist influence is still remarkable. For example, the Butler (2005) group “has
consistently found that management in 9 out of 10 companies have never considered the
use of ICT other than for achieving labor replacement”.
The continuation of the Taylorist model can additionally be demonstrated by
observing the increase in the number of management functions. For example, in the
country where Taylor expressed his views, managers accounted for less than 1% of the
labour force in 1900. Thirty years later this figure was already 7.5%, increasing to 10.5%
by 1970. By 1990, the figure was approaching 14% (Osterman, 1996). These increases
must be understood against the background of increasing population and workforce.
Others have given comparable data concerning the magnitude of management positions
and the associated administrative burden (Witteloostuijn, 1999).
The increased population of managers largely consists of people who believe that
management is a profession like other professions. As Deming (1986, p.130), the
renowned quality and productivity leader, observed: “students in schools of business in
America are taught that there is a profession of management; that they are ready to step
into top jobs. That is a cruel hoax”. This ‘hoax’ resulted in the widely observable
management crises. An article in the Standardization News (1983) [Deming, (1986),
p.131] stated that “practical all our major corporations were started by technical men –
inventors, mechanics, engineers, and chemists, who had a sincere interest in the quality of
products. Now, these companies are largely run by men interested in profit, not product.
Their pride is the P&L statement or stock report”. Detrimental effects of these
developments have been documented pertinent to the US automobile industry (Lutz,
2011). Not surprisingly, a recent Time article correlated the rise of business schools with
the fall of US industry (Foroohar, 2011).
The needed paradigm shift is provided by the emerging discipline of enterprise
engineering. It amounts to a theory-based methodology for addressing enterprise
(re-)development in an all-encompassing way. A sound and rigid theoretical foundation is
crucial. As Deming (1986, p.19) states: “experience alone, without theory, teaches
96 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
management nothing about what to do to improve quality and competitive position, nor
how to do it”. In view of our previous discussion, and the tenacity of Taylor’s principles,
little learning seems to have taken place. We posit that an explanatory theory is required
to give experience meaning, so to provide the basis for appropriately understanding
2.3 The generic goals of enterprise engineering
It is the mission of enterprise engineering to be theoretically, conceptually, and
methodologically complete, in pursuing the next three generic goals:
2.3.1 Intellectual manageability
Proper theories about the construction and operation of enterprises are needed, in order to
get and keep insight and overview concerning enterprises and enterprise changes, and
to master their complexities. Enterprise phenomena that are not comprehensively
understood, cannot be addressed adequately. Hence, the nature of necessary changes
cannot be determined; consequently they cannot be brought about effectively. In addition,
current development approaches, for enterprises as a whole and for ICT applications in
particular, are cursed with combinatorial impacts of changes, which make their
implementation slow and practically unmanageable. So, in addition, appropriate ideas of
enterprise evolvability are needed for making changes expeditious and manageable.
2.3.2 Organisational concinnity
In order to perform optimally and to implement changes successfully, enterprises must
operate as a unified and integrated whole, taking into account all aspects that are deemed
relevant. Many approaches to enterprise development, for example TOGAF, are ill suited
and suffer from theoretical and methodological weakness and incompleteness (Dietz and
Hoogervorst, 2011). It is evidently not sufficient to consider enterprise design domains
like processes, the information relevant for the processes, the software applications
providing that information, and their underlying infrastructure. A viable theory and
methodology for enterprise engineering must be able to address all relevant aspects, even
those that cannot be foreseen presently, in a properly integrated way, so that the
operational enterprise is always a coherent and consistent whole. It is quite obvious that
organisational concinnity must be designed; it does not emerge in a natural way (Keller
and Price, 2011; Leinwand and Mainardi, 2010).
2.3.3 Social devotion
In Section 1.1, we have argued the importance of employee involvement and
participation for enterprise productivity, product and service quality, customer
orientation, learning and innovation (and subsequent enterprise change), as well as for
coping with enterprise dynamics, complexity, and uncertainty leading to emerging
enterprise developments. Contrary to Taylor’s mechanistic view on organisations,
enterprise engineering takes a human-centred view. It considers human beings to be the
‘pearls’ of every enterprise. Therefore, all employees should be fully empowered and
competent for the tasks they have to perform. They must be endorsed with transparent
The discipline of enterprise engineering 97
authority and have access to all information they need in order to perform their tasks in a
responsible way. Next, managers must not only be skilled in managerial work of the kind
that Deming refers to Deming (1986) they must first of all be thoroughly knowledgeable
in the subject field of the enterprise they are managing.
3 Enterprise engineering theories
In this section, a number of theories are discussed that we consider foundational to the
discipline of enterprise engineering. Some of them are already quite well developed, and
some may even be qualified as rather mature. But many theories need substantial further
development or improvement, and some may still have to be added. The list of theories,
as presented in Figure 1, and as briefly discussed in Section 3.2, can therefore usefully
be considered as a, non-exhaustive, theoretical research agenda for the enterprise
engineering community. Next to this agenda, a practical research agenda has to be
produced. There is an urgent need to provide the substantial and appropriate practical
evidence that enterprise engineering delivers the benefits we claim in this article. Such a
practical research agenda will consist of case studies, comparative reviews, and other
3.1 Classes of theories
In order to present and discuss the enterprise engineering theories in a rigorous and lucid
way, a suitable classification scheme is needed. The scheme we have developed to serve
this purpose, is exhibited in Figure 1. It is partly based on the one that was developed for
the social sciences, in particular for the economic sciences, by Chmielewicz (1994).
Figure 1 EE theories in the classification scheme (see online version for colours)
epistemology, mathematics, phenomenology, logic
EE-theories: φ-theory, δ-theory, τ-theory
understanding the nature of things
explanation and prediction
EE-theories: ψ-theory, π-theory
designing and making things
analysis and synthesis
EE-theories: β-theory, ν-theory
devising and choosing things to make
ethical, political, etc. ideas
98 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
Four classes of theories are distinguished, which we label ‘philosophical’, ‘ontological’,
‘technological’ and ‘ideological’. We consider the four classes of theories to be related to
each other in the way as presented in Figure 1. An arrow between two classes means that
every theory in the class on the arrow side is based on a number of theories (possibly
none) in the class on the shaft side. The contained theories in enterprise engineering will
be elaborated in Section 3.2.
Philosophical theories are theories that address very basic conceptual matters. They
include the philosophical branches of epistemology and phenomenology, as well as logic
(in all of its variants) and mathematics.
Philosophical theories are valuated by their truthfulness within a chosen area. The
truthfulness of a philosophical theory is established by reasoning, and/or by judging its
tenability in the face of reality. Regarding logical and mathematical theories, this
reasoning can mostly be exact. In the other branches of philosophy, such exactness is
mostly not possible.
Ontological5 theories are theories about the nature of things. They address
explanatory and/or predictive relationships in observed phenomena. Within the discipline
of enterprise engineering, we are particularly concerned with cause-effect relationships in
systems. These relationships are (or must be) able to explain observed behaviour, as well
as to predict behaviour to some extent, based on the ontological understanding that the
theory provides. An important note has to be made with respect to social science theories
in general. Although they belong to the class of ontological theories within our
framework, they often are only able to show statistical correlations between phenomena.
Such correlations, however, are not cause-effect relations; the latter require the inclusion
in the theory of some ‘mechanism’ by which events can be clearly explained as the
effects of particular acts (the causes).
Ontological theories are valuated by their soundness and their appropriateness.
The soundness of an ontological theory is established by its being rooted in sound
philosophical theories. The appropriateness of an ontological theory is established by the
evaluation of its practical application, e.g., through expert judgments.
Technological6 theories are theories that address means-end relations between
phenomena. Obviously, this is the core area of engineering (of all kinds). Technological
theories are the foundation of design methods. A method that is firmly rooted in an
technological theory, is often called a methodology. As Alexander (1960) puts it, a design
process is basically a process of analysing a problem (a situation that one considers
undesirable) and synthesising a solution (a situation that one considers desirable). After
having conceived the solution in all detail, it can be implemented, such that the new
situation can be made operational. Implementing is assigning concrete means to the
elements of the implementation model. Unfortunately, the term ‘technology’ has become
a (confusing) synonym for technical means, like ICT.
Technological theories are valuated by their rigor and their relevance (Hevner, 2007).
The rigor of a technological theory is established by its being rooted in sound ontological
theories. The relevance of a technological theory is established by the evaluation of its
practical application, e.g., through measurements, in evaluative comparisons, and in
Ideological theories are theories that address the goals people may want to achieve in
society at large, and for us, in enterprises in particular. Ideological theories are fuelled by
visions, convictions and beliefs. Therefore, they are by nature subjective, in contrast to
The discipline of enterprise engineering 99
the objective ontological and technological theories. The role of ideological theories in
enterprise development is to guide the devising and/or choosing of the changes that are
considered necessary, and that consequently have to be accomplished.
Ideological theories cannot a priori be predicated as truthful or sound and appropriate,
nor as or rigorous or relevant, even if they are rooted in rigorous and relevant other
theories. One can only speak of their societal significance. The significance of an
ideological theory boils ultimately down to its fruitfulness and utility, as determined by
3.2 Theories in enterprise engineering
The φ-theory (φ is pronounced as FI, standing for fact and information) is a theory about
the nature of factual knowledge. It provides the basis for an appropriate understanding
of what is commonly referred to by terms like ‘fact’, ‘data’, ‘information’, and
‘knowledge’. By that matter, it constitutes the theoretical foundation of all conceptual
models in the other EE-theories. Core notions in the theory are the semiotic triangle
(Morris, 1938) and the ontological parallelogram (Dietz, 2006). The φ-theory is rooted in
semiotics (Peirce, 1958; Morris, 1938), in logic (Wittgenstein, 1922; Sowa, 2000), in
philosophical ontology (Bunge, 1977), and in mereology (Simons, 1987). It is extensively
discussed in Dietz (2005a) and in Dietz (2006)7.
3.2.2 The δ-theory
The δ-theory (δ is pronounced as DELTA, standing for discrete event in linear time
automata) is a theory about the statics, kinematics, and dynamics of discrete event
systems. It provides the basis for an appropriate understanding of what is commonly
referred to by terms like ‘system’, ‘state’, ‘event’, and ‘process’. By that matter, it
constitutes the theoretical foundation for the formalisation of the ψ-theory and the
π-theory, as well as of approaches to the discrete event simulation and animation of
organisations and software systems.
The δ-theory is rooted in systemic ontology (Bunge, 1979), and in automata theory
(Hopcroft and Ullman, 1979). It is extensively discussed in Dietz and van Hee (1988),
van Hee et al. (1989) and in Dietz (2006). The δ-theory builds on the φ-theory.
3.2.3 The τ-theory
The τ-theory (τ is pronounced as TAO, standing for teleology across ontology) is a theory
about system perspectives. It particularly clarifies the notions of teleology and ontology,
their fundamental difference as well as their relationship. Thereby, it provides the basis
for an appropriate understanding of what is commonly referred to by terms like ‘system’,
‘model’, ‘function’, and ‘construction’.
The τ-theory is firmly rooted in systems thinking (von Bertalanffy, 1969; Bunge,
1979; Checkland, 1981). It is extensively discussed in Dietz (2008), in Hoogervorst
(2009) and in Dietz (2006).
100 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
3.2.4 The ψ-theory
The ψ-theory (ψ is pronounced as PSI, standing for performance in social interaction) is a
theory about the ontological essence of organisations. It clarifies and explains the
construction and operation of organisations. The operating principle of enterprises is that
actors (employees, customers, suppliers) enter into and comply with commitments
regarding the products (services) that they produce in cooperation. This basic
understanding makes enterprises primarily social systems, of which the elements are
human beings in their role of social individuals, bestowed with appropriate authority and
bearing the corresponding responsibility.
The ψ-theory provides us with an effective notion of enterprise ontology, defined
as the fully realisation and implementation independent understanding of the
(constructional) essence of an enterprise’s organisation (Note: this does not say anything
about the functional essence of the enterprise as perceived by its various stakeholders:
shareholders, employees, management, etc.).
The ψ-theory is rooted in speech act theory (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969), in social
action theory (Habermas, 1984), and in information systems theory (Langefors, 1977),
and it is extensively discussed in Dietz (2006). It builds on the δ-theory and the φ-theory.
3.2.5 The π-theory
The π-theory (π is pronounced as PI, standing for performance in interaction) is a theory
about the ontological essence of systems of which the elements are non-human (therefore
the S for social is missing in the name). In order to avoid misunderstandings, we will call
these systems ‘technical systems’. Note that a technical system may be (originally) a
social system, only technically implemented, like automated teller machines (ATM),
automated check-in systems, and web shops. The π-theory clarifies and explains the
construction and operation of technical systems. The operating principle of these systems
is that agents interact through commands. The addressee of a command will respond to it
in a deterministic way (unlike human beings do). The response consists of the bringing
about of some product or service and/or the generation of one or more commands.
The π-theory is discussed to some extent in Dietz (2006, 2005b). It builds on the
δ-theory and the φ-theory.
The β-theory (β is pronounced as BETA, standing for binding (constructional) essence,
technology, and architecture) is a theory about the design of (discrete event) systems. It
provides the basis for an appropriate understanding of what is commonly referred to by
terms like ‘development’, ‘design’, ‘engineering’, and ‘implementation’.
The β-theory is rooted in systems thinking (von Bertalanffy, 1969; Bunge, 1979;
Checkland, 1981), in general design theory (Simon, 1969), and in software design theory
(Dijkstra, 1976). It is extensively discussed in Dietz (2008, 2006) and in Hoogervorst
(2009). The β-theory also offers an appropriate and effective notion of enterprise
architecture, defined as the deliberate restriction of design freedom, and of enterprise
design, which covers the function design, construction design, and implementation design
phases in the generic system development process (Dietz, 2008). It builds in particular on
the τ-theory and the δ-theory.
The discipline of enterprise engineering 101
The ν-theory (ν is pronounced as NU, standing for normalised unification) is a theory
about the construction of (discrete event) systems. The construction of a system is called
normalised if a change consists of a set of elementary changes, so that every elementary
change is the addition or the removal of an element. Put differently, in a normalised
system the impact of an elementary change is only such an addition or removal, without
combinatorial side effects (i.e., without needing to add or remove other elements).
Concerning software systems, the ν-theory is extensively discussed in Mannaert and
Verelst (2009), under the name ‘normalised systems’ (NS). This software engineering
approach avoids the combinatorial effects of bringing about changes in software
(Lehman, 1980). In addition, very short delivery and test times are achieved. The NS
theory is rooted in software design theory (McIlroy, 1968; Lehman, 1980). Concerning
systems in general, the ν-theory has to be further developed. The ν-theory builds in
particular on the δ-theory.
3.2.8 The σ-theory
The σ-theory (σ is pronounced as SIGMA, standing for socially inspired governance
and management advancement) is a theory about the way modern enterprises should
be constituted, in particular how they should be governed and managed. It is rooted
in landmark publications of organisational theorists arguing the crucial importance
of the social aspects of enterprises (Drucker, 1985; Katz and Kahn, 1978; Likert,
1965; McGregor, 1960). Congruent with our previous observations, this social, hence
human-centred perspective is not only essential in view of enterprise performance,
learning and change; it also offers demonstrably the largest contribution to managerial
effectiveness (Luthans, 1977; Yukl, 2002; Drucker, 1985; Katz and Kahn, 1978; Likert,
1965). The σ-theory conveys the ‘unitarist’ view on enterprise development by rejecting
the necessary conflict between enterprise interests and employee interests (Likert, 1965).
Effectively applying the σ-theory is evidently in itself an aspect of enterprise design.
As such, the theory builds heavily on the τ-theory, which, on its turn, builds heavily on
the ψ-theory, as we have seen. The σ-theory is partly discussed in Hoogervorst (1998,
2009). For the other part it has to be further developed yet.
3.3 Methodological foundations of enterprise engineering
As a final remark concerning the classification scheme for theories, we want to discuss
the role of scientific methodologies in enterprise engineering. March and Smith (1955)
distinguish between ‘natural sciences’ and ‘design sciences’. Natural sciences are
concerned with understanding and explaining observable phenomena around us.
Examples of natural sciences are physical, biological, social, and behavioural sciences.
Specifically regarding enterprises, social and behavioural sciences seek to understand,
explain and predict organisational and human phenomena (Hevner et al., 2004).
Therefore, these natural sciences would belong to the class of ontological theories in
Figure 1. The other important scientific domain is identified as ‘design sciences’ (Simon,
1969). The latter type of science is concerned with devising artefacts or other
intentionally created results. Therefore, these sciences would belong to the class of
technological theories in Figure 1. To further illustrate the distinction between natural
102 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
sciences and design sciences, one might say that natural sciences are about finding out
how things are, whereas design sciences are about finding out what is effective (Hevner
et al., 2004). Put differently, design sciences are about prescribing how things have to be
created (March and Smith, 1955).
Obviously, an effective design science must have its fundaments in the natural
sciences. So, e.g., proper aircraft design rests on theories and concepts from
aerodynamics, metallurgy, chemistry, and so on. In view of the multitude of aspects
relevant for enterprises, the theoretical basis for enterprise design is inherently broad.
Various natural sciences play a role, as expressed by the theories in enterprise
engineering discussed earlier. Also within the enterprise context, the danger of not
maintaining an adequate ‘theory base’ has been identified (Hevner et al., 2004). Many
approaches concerning enterprise design can be noticed with a focus on models and
representations, whereby adequate attention to the theory base can be questioned (Dietz
and Hoogervorst, 2011).
The so-called design science research (DSR) methodology seems an appropriate
candidate for being the main research methodology in enterprise engineering. It is also
already quite widely accepted, notably in the information systems area (cf. March and
Smith, 1955; Hevner et al., 2004). Because enterprise engineering is by nature about
designing, we take DSR as the scientific foundation for justifying research in enterprise
engineering. A concise description of the DSR methodology is provided by Hevner
4 Enterprise engineering fundamentals
In order to achieve the generic goals of enterprise engineering, as presented in Section 2,
we have formulated seven fundamentals for dealing effectively with enterprise design,
enterprise governance, and enterprise management. The changes that are addressed range
from small ones (like installing a new e-mail system) to major transformations (like
mergers and acquisitions). The fundamentals must be understood as ideas that we
consider to be prominent in enterprise engineering. All of them are already included in
one or more of the previously discussed theories. By formulating them explicitly as
fundamentals, they are considered to constitute guidelines that are more readily adopted
in practice than the theories themselves. A detailed presentation of the methodologies in
enterprise engineering exceeds the scope of this article; they are discussed elsewhere
(Dietz, 2006, 2008; Hoogervorst, 2009, 2011). For now, we limit ourselves to presenting
the fundamentals of enterprise engineering (cf. Figure 2).
Fundamentals 1, 2, 3, and 4 serve to make enterprise design practically doable and
manageable. They help to bring about changes in such a way that intellectual
manageability and organisational concinnity are achieved, paired to avoiding
combinatorial explosions of change impacts.
Fundamentals 5, 6, and 7 are ideological fundamentals. They convey our conviction
that the employees of an enterprise primarily constitute the enterprise, and that
consequently they must get the proper empowerment to perform optimally. Put
differently, in our view, enterprises are participatory networks of competent people. The
employees of an enterprise (including both workers and managers) also collectively
constitute the enterprise’s identity. In economic terms, they are the most precious asset.
The discipline of enterprise engineering 103
Everything else only serves to support them in their work. All of them contribute to
achieving the goal of social devotion.
Figure 2 EE generic goals and fundamentals in the classification scheme (see online version
4.1 Fundamental 1: strict distinction between function and construction
In (re-)developing an enterprise, the conscious distinction between a system’s function
and construction, and the insight in their alternating roles in system development, is of
paramount importance. As posited by the τ-theory, only the construction of a system is
objective. A constructional model (or white-box model) of an enterprise, can always be
validated from the actual construction. Contrarily, a functional model (or black-box
model) is by its very nature subjective, because function is not a system property but a
relationship between the system and a stakeholder. Consequently, every system has
(at any moment) one construction, but it may have at least as many functions as there are
stakeholders. All these functions are brought about by the (same and only) construction.
Next, the construction of a system as a composition of sub systems can only be
understood through the alternating roles of function and construction. As an example, the
functional specifications for the engines of an aircraft are derived from the constructional
model of the aircraft, not from the aircraft’s functions. Conversely, the actual
construction of the engines is immaterial for understanding the (global) construction of
Whatever objective anyone of the stakeholders wants to achieve by (the development
of) a system, it has to be expressed first in functional requirements or functional design
principles. All common considerations in current systems development, like user
orientation, service orientation, and value orientation, have to be accommodated in the
function design of the system (see also fundamental 2 and fundamental 3).
Also according to the τ-theory, the function design of an object system must start
from the ontological model of the using system. Based on the functional model of the
104 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
object system, its ontological construction model is designed. Then, the engineering (or
implementation design) of the object system can take place.
A logical consequence is, that it makes no sense to develop enterprise information
systems, starting from the goals of the enterprise (although many approaches makes one
believe so). Another consequence is, that business IT alignment can never be achieved
through IT governance (although many approaches makes one believe so), because one
lacks the knowledge of the organisation, i.e. the construction of the enterprise.
A third important consequence is the insight that every operational enterprise
information system is some implementation of (some part of) the essential model of the
enterprise. The question, however, is: which one? Since in current information system
development practice, essential models of the supported enterprise are not produced, one
should not be amazed that these systems (including parameterisable ERP systems) do not
meet customer expectations.
Applying fundamental 1 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
4.2 Fundamental 2: focus on essential transactions and actors
The complexity of enterprises necessitates a division of tasks to be performed. Because
the enterprise must operate as a unified whole, task differentiation must be properly
paired to the integration of the distinct tasks. The organisational sciences have for long
recognised the non-trivial issues of differentiation and integration (Daft, 2001; Lawrence
and Lorsch, 1967). However, an effective approach to identify tasks is still lacking.
In view of the argued employee focus, organisational performance ultimately
concerns the performance of employees: they are the only ones that can be bestowed with
authority and responsibility. This is the core of the ψ-theory: performance in social
interaction. The notion of differentiation implies that employees are engaged in numerous
different production activities (e.g., concluding an insurance policy, making an
equipment part, paying an invoice, or giving a permission), whereas the notion of
integration demands that these activities are coordinated such that the enterprise operates
as an integrated whole. The ψ-theory provides us with the insight that the coordination
and production activities occur in universal patterns called transactions (Dietz, 2006).
These are the elementary (essential) organisational building blocks of enterprises.
Enterprises have dozens of processes, such as for production, recruitment, purchasing,
payment, accounting, logistics, and so on. Despite their different nature, they all share the
same underlying transaction patterns. Every business process appears to be a tree
structure of transactions. This holds also for non-operational processes, like support and
management processes (Aveiro et al., 2011).
Another major contribution of the ψ-theory to mastering the complexity of
organisations emerges from the distinction between an enterprise’s B-organisation
(from business), I-organisation (from information), and D-organisation (from data and
document) (Dietz, 2006). The ψ-theory-based ontological model of the B-organisation of
an enterprise is called its essential model. By adopting this distinction, next to the
organisational building block from the ψ-theory, a reduction in the size of enterprise
models is achieved, and in the time to produce them, of well over 90%. Consequently, a
major contribution is offered to making enterprises intellectually manageable. In the end,
essential models need to be realised and implemented, for which much more detailed
The discipline of enterprise engineering 105
models have to be produced, guided by enterprise architecture (cf. fundamental 4). In
addition, it seems to be the best guarantee that even the most encompassing enterprise
changes will not lead to severe combinatorial explosions of effects (following the
ν-theory). Moreover, attention to the enterprise essence makes clear that similar
enterprises have similar underlying essential designs. Understandably, this is the case for
municipalities, police forces, banks, and airlines, to name but a few.
Opportunities for re-use of functionalities or services already developed
become manifest and applicable through knowledge of the implementation-independent
organisational essence of an enterprise. An interesting extension of this idea towards
software engineering is presented in Albani and Terlouw (2010), where the notions of
service and of business component are based on these organisational building blocks.
Applying fundamental 2 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
4.3 Fundamental 3: rigorous distinction between design and implementation
The β-theory fully explains and clarifies the complete development process of a system,
consisting of three phases: function design, construction design, and engineering8 (also
called implementation design) (Dietz, 2008). By implementation we mean the concrete
realisation of a system. Put differently, implementation concerns the activities for putting
a design into effect. Unlike the other two phases, engineering is a rather deterministic
process executed according to some plan: a precisely defined, detailed scheme of
activities, for accomplishing a clearly defined objective. Such activities can be executed
and managed as a project. Generally, one has to iterate through the mentioned phases of
the total development process. One might, e.g., discover during implementation that the
designed and engineered system is not feasible. In such a case, the system has to be
(partly) re-designed and re-engineered.
Contrary to engineering, design is a highly non-deterministic process. It amounts to
unrestrictedly exploring design possibilities rather than restrictedly following a
predefined, formalised plan. In the function design phase, the functional (black-box)
model of the object system, i.e., the system to be developed, is produced, starting from
the given functional requirements and the functional principles in the applicable
architecture. Ideally, the functional requirements are based on the essential model of the
using system, i.e., the system that is going to be supported by the object system. In the
construction design phase, a highly abstracted constructional model of the object system
is produced, starting from the functional model. Ideally, this abstract model is an
ontological model, which means that it is fully independent of the way it is or will be
Consequently, design activities cannot be executed and managed as a project.
Applying implementation-type concepts to design activities amounts to confusing
creativity with execution and planning. Design must be considered as an activity of
professionals with an inherently unpredictable outcome and duration.
In terms of the notion of system lifecycle, enterprise engineering is concerned with
all activities up to the implementation stage, as defined above. Utilisation of the
(implemented) system pertains to the operational utilisation of the system, which also
includes support activities such as maintenance. However, should the system be modified
in order to change some system properties, redesign must take place that basically
106 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
follows the same process up to the new implementation and subsequent utilisation.
Formally, the lifecycle ends when the system is decommissioned.
Because the essential model of an enterprise provides an unprecedented insight and
overview in the construction and operation of its organisation, it is the highly
recommended starting point in every change activity. A very interesting new way of
developing enterprise information systems, taking advantage of the properties of essential
models, is presented in van Kervel et al. (2012). It generates enterprise information
systems directly from the essential model of the enterprise, as a kind of real-time
simulation. Moreover, fundamental 2 is not limited to the operational processes in an
enterprise. It is applicable to all activities, as proposed in Aveiro et al. (2010, 2011),
where proposals are presented for the extension of DEMO9, in order to accommodate
control and change in an organisation.
Applying fundamental 3 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
4.4 Fundamental 4: diligent application of design principles
It is one thing for an enterprise to have clear strategic goals and areas of concern, derived
from a broadly sustained mission statement. It is quite another thing to have all
operational details in the enterprise’s organisation fully compliant with them. The
challenge is to align strategy and operation in a satisfying way.
To ensure that an enterprise operates in a unified and integrated manner, and in
compliance with its strategic intentions and areas of concern, the development process of
enterprises and of their supporting systems must be controlled by functional and
constructional design principles, which guide the (re-)design of the enterprise, in addition
to the applicable specific functional and constructional requirements. A coherent,
consistent, and hierarchically ordered set of such principles for a particular class of
systems is called an architecture. The collective architectures of an enterprise at some
moment are called the enterprise architecture at that moment. Requirements pertain to a
specific system to be designed, whereas architecture pertains to a system class (such as
accounting systems or sales departments). Indeed, requiring a user-friendly web interface
or a certain level of system availability, does not provide sufficient guidance as to how to
satisfy the requirement. Such general and often high-level strategic requirements must be
made operational through constructional design principles.
As the β-theory posits, the notion of architecture can best be conceived as the
deliberate, normative restriction of design freedom, which comes in addition to the
specific functional and constructional requirements in (re-)designing a system, e.g., an
organisation. It is expressed in (functional and constructional) design principles regarding
a number of areas of concern and applied in one or more enterprise design domains
(Dietz, 2008, Hoogervorst, 2009). So, for example, the concern for motivated employees
must be addressed through appropriate design principles that are applied in relevant
enterprise design domains. An extensive study of architecture principles is contained in
Greefhorst and Proper (2011).
Applying fundamental 4 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
The discipline of enterprise engineering 107
4.5 Fundamental 5: distributed operational responsibility
The objective of employee empowerment, as part of the goal social devotion, implies that
as much responsibility as possible is given to the individual employees. It does not
go along with strong hierarchical control mechanisms. On the contrary, many
management or control measures are counterproductive and redundant. This is a common
observation in numerous enterprise studies that have been undertaken with DEMO. A
typical example is the organising of an employee’s work. It is our conviction that the
ideal person to organise somebody’s work is the worker him- or herself, provided that
he/she has access to the information needed. Responsibility is the natural response of a
human being to whom full authority is assigned for performing a task or fulfilling a role.
Moreover, responsible employees are dedicated to achieve the optimal performance of an
enterprise in all aspects. This manifests an important paradigm shift from employee
control to employee support. There is ample practical evidence for our conviction, as
exemplified by enterprises like Alcoa Inc, W.L. Gore & Associates, Nordstrom, and
Moreover, we consider it to be an ethical necessity to bestow authorities on the
employees of an enterprise, and having them bear the corresponding responsibility. The
prerequisite is that they fully understand their role(s) in the enterprise. This entails that
the employees are enabled to internalise the (relevant parts of the) ontological model of
the enterprise, as put forward by the ψ-theory. Bearing responsibility includes that these
employees constantly validate the correspondence of the ontological model with the
operational reality and take appropriate measures in case of deviations. The central role
of employees as expressed by this fundamental is similarly important for the ability of
employees to create and share knowledge, which in turn is the primary condition for
enterprise learning and the capacity to create and address emerging (non-planned)
Applying fundamental 5 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
social devotion, powered by the σ-theory.
4.6 Fundamental 6: distributed governance responsibility
For continuously maintaining unity and integration in the (re-)development and operation
of an enterprise, organisational measures are needed that exceed operational
responsibilities and tasks (including management). These measures are collectively called
governance. Hence, unlike operational management (‘running the mill’) governance
concerns enterprise adaptation and renewal (‘changing the mill’). Very often, the
responsibility for taking and applying such measures on a continuous basis, usually
called enterprise governance, is assigned to higher levels of management. Factually,
this amounts to the continuation of the Taylorist separation of thinking (management)
and doing (workers): the locus of knowledge and control rests with executive
management. Such an approach is inherently problematic and dysfunctional
Indeed, how could executive management possibly know and comprehend all internal
(operational) issues and external developments that necessitate enterprise change and
adaptation, and translate them in top-down directives that would innovatively yield a
new, adapted, unified and integrated enterprise? We posit that it is essential to extend the
notion of employee involvement also to the realm of enterprise governance. As stated
108 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
earlier, enterprise change is based on enterprise learning, which in turn is based on
individual employee learning. All employees are thus considered creative sources for
(bottom-up) enterprise improvements and adaptation. Of course, they must be enabled
and competent to do so. Further, by capturing the history of organisational changes
(including alternative change options and lessons learned) and by identifying future
change options, we can make valuable organisational knowledge available, in order to
empower employees and managers, and to contribute to relevant future organisational
changes and learning. In order to ensure coherence and consistency in the development
and implementation of new ideas and ways of working, a central governance capability
must be exercised at the holistic enterprise level. This central guiding governance
capacity utilises the enterprise engineering theory and methodology for achieving the
generic objectives mentioned before.
Note that IT governance is an integral part of enterprise governance, despite the many
views that do not acknowledge or adequately operationalise this notion due to the
absence of a focus on enterprise-wide design (IT Governance Institute, 2003; Maizlish
and Handler, 2005).
Applying fundamental 6 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
social devotion, powered by the σ-theory.
4.7 Fundamental 7: human-centred and knowledgeable management
As has been amply stressed before, our ideological position underpinning enterprise
engineering, is based on the crucial role of employees. This is expressed by the generic
goal of social devotion, as well as by the fundamentals 5 and 6. Ultimately, enterprise
performance is determined by the performance of its people (Drucker, 1985). This
human-centred ideological position has been widely argued within the traditional
organisational sciences (Katz and Kahn, 1978; Likert, 1965; McGregor, 1960). An
evident consequence of the crucial role of employees is the human-centred nature of
management. Miles et al. (1995) identified a clear managerial philosophy that establishes
continuous development of human assets as the key element of success in corporate
redesign. That is, management must be primarily concerned with creating conditions for
employees doing their work and developing themselves accordingly. Put differently,
human-centred management provides the conditions for mobilising and maintaining the
intensity of employee involvement and participation. It fits within the ‘unitarist’ notion of
the σ-theory mentioned before.
If employee participation and involvement is to mean anything, it has to be at the
level of self-management. This condition necessarily implies a departure from tight
(instrumental) managerial control: empowerment of employees must be complemented
by management enablement. This shift in behavioural guidance subsequently implies a
shift from management in its traditional form towards management as leadership. The
essential characteristics of leadership have been extensively discussed (Burns, 1979;
Kotter, 1988; Bennis, 1989; Yukl, 2002). Control and supervision characterises the
traditional, instrumental, contractual, and unidirectional management relationship with
employees. Leadership on the other hand implies a bidirectional relationship, based on
shared purpose, goals, norms, and values. Underlying all forms of leadership is the notion
of mutuality: both leaders and followers have no meaning on their own. Their
interrelation is foundational and based on mutual trust. Leadership may be defined as
“inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and motivations – the
The discipline of enterprise engineering 109
wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations – of both leaders and followers”
[Bennis, (1989), p.19]. Leadership is about stimulating self-confidence and self-efficacy
of followers (employees), which in turn leads to self-actualisation. Hence, leadership
turns potential into reality. The notion of mutuality also follows from the fact that leaders
guide, but are also guided by followers. It is argued that leadership is required at all
organisational levels (Kotter, 1988).
Providing behavioural guidance through shared purpose, goals, norms and values
ultimately boils down to providing meaning such that individuals orient themselves to the
achievement of desirable ends (Smircich and Morgan, 1982). We submit that defining
meaning and purpose for employees necessitates knowledge and insight into their roles
and activities. Hence, it implies that management in their leadership capacity is
thoroughly knowledgeable about the domain they are managing. Indeed, the needed
paradigm shift discussed in section 2.2 was based on the argued detrimental effects of
seeing management as just a profession that can be exercised to any enterprise,
irrespective of its specific nature. A management position in a hospital can thus be easily
exchanged for one in a steel factory. Already decades ago this perspective has been
severely criticised (Deming, 1986).
Applying fundamental 7 contributes primarily to the achievement of the generic goal
social devotion, powered by the σ-theory.
5 Discussion and conclusions
Enterprises are purposeful entities of human endeavour, and they come in a wide range of
forms and dimensions. Arguably, society is largely constituted and dominated by
enterprises. For healthcare, education, transportation, or the production and acquisition of
commercial and governmental goods and services, individuals depend on, and are
influenced by, the characteristics and performance of enterprises, as citizen, consumer or
employee. Hence, the characteristics and performance of enterprises has a bearing on the
quality of life and society at large: societal and environmental conditions, the quality of
work and private life, individual physical and mental health, and economical
circumstances: they all are impacted by enterprises.
As we have seen, almost all (94%) manifestations of inadequate enterprise
performance are the inevitable results of how enterprises are arranged (Deming, 1986);
the underlying causes are ‘common causes’. Only a limited percentage (6%) of
inadequate enterprise performance manifestation is attributable to erroneous actions of
employees (‘special causes’). Put differently, poor quality of service, alienated customers
and employees, inefficiency, low productivity, waste of human, natural or financial
resources, burnouts, financial crises, or failing disaster recovery (to name but a few), are
all mostly the inevitable consequences of bad enterprise design. Yet, within the
(Taylorist) planning and control mindset of managers, virtually only attention is paid to
‘special causes’, leading to even more employee control with no, or detrimental effects.
All too often, this mindset is combined with a relentless focus on short-term financial
In view of the enormous impact that enterprises have on individual and societal well
being, we contend that enterprises have a moral obligation to avoid undesired enterprise
outcomes and secure desired ones. Since, in line with Deming’s observation, these
outcomes are the inevitable consequences of how enterprises are arranged, achieving
110 J.L.G. Dietz, J.A.P. Hoogervorst et al.
enterprise outcomes is thus first and foremost a matter of adequate and intentional
enterprise design. Consequently, proper attention to enterprise design also has moral
connotations. To our knowledge, enterprise engineering, as proposed and discussed in
this article, is the only effective approach to formally operationalise the moral
responsibilities that enterprises face. As argued, it is precisely here that serious rethinking
is desperately needed. In a century after Taylor, scientific thinking about enterprises has
progressed significantly. Nonetheless, enterprises continue to operate according to a
century-old mindset. Hence, there is a large chasm between what science knows and what
enterprises do. It is the ambition of the discipline of enterprise engineering to further
increase that knowledge and to make it practically useable. This could initially aggravate
the chasm. Therefore, top-management’s comprehension about the importance of
enterprise engineering is crucial.
The discipline of enterprise engineering that we have presented and discussed is
based on a sound theoretical foundation, and is able to address enterprises holistically in
all their aspects. Its practical success will significantly depend on the degree to which
enterprise engineering is able to incorporate insights from the traditional organisational
sciences within the design perspective. Moreover, a new and effective integration is
needed of the construction perspective on enterprises, i.e., their organisations (as
addressed in this article), and the function perspective, i.e., their businesses.
As it holds for all engineering disciplines (mechanical engineering, aeronautical
engineering, electrical engineering, etc.), enterprise engineering will only become a
serious and successful discipline if it keeps being based on sound theoretical foundations.
The theories and fundamentals as presented in this paper seem to be sound, but their real
value has to be assessed in evaluation and adoption studies.
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1 Antonia Albani, University of St. Gallen, email@example.com
David Aveiro, University of Madeira; CODE, INESC INOV, Lisbon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eduard Babkin, Higher School of Economics at Nizhny Novgorod, email@example.com
Joseph Barjis, Delft University of Technology, J.Barjis@tudelft.nl
Artur Caetano, TU Lisboa, IST, INESC, Lisbon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Huysmans, University of Antwerp, Philip.Huysmans@ua.ac.be
Junichi Iijima, Tokyo Institute of Technology, email@example.com
Steven van Kervel, Formetis, Netherlands, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hans Mulder, Antwerp Management School, email@example.com
Martin Op ‘t Land, Capgemini, Antwerp Management School,
Delft University of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org
Henderik A. Proper, CRP Henri Tudor; Radboud Uni Nijmegen, email@example.com
Jorge Sanz, IBM Research, Almaden CA, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Terlouw, ICRIS, The Netherlands, email@example.com
José Tribolet, TU Lisboa, IST, INESC, Lisbon, Jose.Tribolet@inesc.pt
Jan Verelst, University of Antwerp, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Winter, University of St. Gallen, email@example.com
2 With ‘enterprise’ we refer to all kinds of organised activity (like companies, governmental
agencies, healthcare institutions, and supply chains).
3 In the traditional organisational sciences this notion is commonly referred to as ‘organisational
4 Cf. http://www.iseenet.org.
5 The original meaning of the Greek word ‘ontology’ is: knowing how things are.
6 The original meaning of the Greek word ‘technology’ is: knowing how to make things.
7 Although we regularly refer to literature sources where theories are discussed, they are not
always referred to by the Greek-letter-name in these sources.
8 Note that the term ‘engineering’ is used here in the narrow sense, unlike its meaning in
‘mechanical engineering’, ‘aeronautical engineering’, ‘enterprise engineering’, etc.
9 DEMO is an acronym for design and engineering methodology for organisations. It is a
pioneering methodology in enterprise engineering (http://www.ee-institute.com).