On the Theoretical Foundations of Research into the Understandability of Business Process Models

Constantin Houy, Peter Fettke, Peter Loos

In: Proceedings of the 22nd European Conference on Information Systems. European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS-14) June 9-11 Tel Aviv Israel AIS 6/2014.


Against the background of the growing significance of Business Process Management (BPM) for Information Systems (IS) research and practice, especially the field of Business Process Modeling gains more and more importance. Business process models support communication about as well as the coordination of processes and have become a widely adopted tool in practice. As the understandability of business process models plays a crucial role in communication processes, more and more studies on process model understandability have been conducted in IS research. This article aims at investigating underlying theories of research into business process model understandability by means of an in-depth analysis of 126 systematically retrieved research articles on the topic. It shows in how far process model understandability research is multi-theoretically founded. Identified theories differ regarding addressed subject matters, their coverage, their focus as well as the underlying notion of model understanding, which is exemplarily demonstrated and discussed in this article. Moreover, implications of the findings are discussed and an outlook on future business process model understandability research and on the integration potential of theories in this field is given.


German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz