Commoning and Business Process Management


On 6 April 2018, the framework of the 10th conference of Subject-oriented Business Process Management (S-BPM), hosted by the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU), offered the opportunity to extend the focus of innovative approaches to business process management and to include commoners that share common good resources in commoning relations. It was the first time that representatives of the business process management community, in particular, of the systems development paradigm S-BPM, and representatives of the community of the Economy of the Common Good (ECG) which comprises about 400 companies met in an academic environment.  

The workshop under the title “Towards Common Process Understanding in Collective Welfare” gave evidence of the feasibility of a future fruitful joint research programme.

The first speaker, Frank Ahlrichs from German “konsequent. Management Services” who works as consultant for the International Association of Controllers (ICV), set the stage for “Integrated Thinking”. “Integrated Thinking” is a necessary response to the challenges digitisation poses to the business world (Industry 4.0). Along with the need to integrate human capital, social and relationship capital, and natural capital goes the need of taking into account human values.

Correspondent Manfred Blachfellner, long-time member of the ICV and co-ordinator of the Tyrol ECG branch (Verein zur Förderung der Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie Tirol), specified those values. He referred to the so-called Common Good Matrix. He was involved in the development of its current version 5.0. Four values build the columns of this matrix: human dignity; solidarity and social justice; environmental sustainability; and transparency and co-determination. The lines are built by the stakeholders, which have five categories: the suppliers; the owners, equity- and financial service-providers; the employees (including the managers); the customers and business partners; and, last not least, the social environment. By that you get 20 themes that allow to score the contribution to the common good in a balance sheet. This procedure of producing Common Good Reports for each business is at the core of the value-driven business development. The generalisation of such a measure throughout our economies would profoundly transform our societies.

Students of Christian Stary, head of Communications Engineering at JKU Linz, proved then the applicability of S-BPM modelling in the case of a certain example of commoning: commoning in housing and living. Theresa Prinz and Sonja Polt made a comparison between the processes in the dominant forms of housing and living and those that are characteristic of alternative choices like housing communities that share the common property. Prinz and Polt showed the principal differences and want to extend their study to how a transformation can be modelled from the old to the new forms.

Participants of the workshop that was initiated by the “Emergent systems, information and society” group could agree that the subject-orientation of business process management offers a tool that can be used to help understand, assist and guide transformations towards processes that enact greater respect for the commons.