1.1    Motivation

The main motivation of this research project is a belief that organizational actors in general may benefit from knowing more about the enterprise they are a part of. There are several compelling reasons for this belief. One obvious reason is when an overall view of the enterprise is required to do a job. The concept of Business Process Reengineering (Hammer, 1990), implying radical changes in the way organizations do business, often presuppose intimate knowledge of the organization in order to propose new work processes taking advantage of information technology (e.g., Ould, 1995:5).

A second reason may be an ability to work more efficiently, e.g., without close supervision. Empowerment (Sims et al., 1993:246) is a recurring term when talking about reallocation of responsibility and power to make and implement decisions from managers to workers. Greif (1991) is a proponent of visual factories, where empowered work teams develop and use artifacts like activity maps, production goals, work procedures, performance measures, vacation lists, etc. and hang them on the walls of their factory "territory". The success of the concept relies on improved understanding of the factory.

Yet another argument in favor of more knowledgeable employees is individual motivation and satisfaction. Hitt et al. (1986:319) argue that experienced meaningfulness, responsibility and knowledge of results directly influences workers' motivation and satisfaction. One factor influencing perceived meaningfulness is task significance -- to what degree the worker perceives her job to be important to the organization and to colleagues. Dougherty (1992:189) argues, based on a study of barriers to successful product innovation, that the perceived complexity (and hence importance) of other people's work is strongly influenced by how knowledgeable people are of the same work.

Accepting the tenet that knowledge about the enterprise generally is a desirable goal, enterprise modeling has been proposed as a solution (Rumbaugh, 1993:18; Fraser, 1994). In addition to scholarly interest, industrial interest has also flourished (e.g., Christiansen and Thomsen, 1994). An example of industrial interest and perceived usefulness of enterprise modeling is a claim made by employees at the General Electrics R&D center: The single most profitable technique introduced at the research center during the last five years was believed to be enterprise modeling in various forms (GE R&D, 1995). Although there is little additional evidence to support such a claim, the perceived usefulness is found motivating.

The reader may argue that models of organizations and work have been in widespread use for decades, and a wealth of modeling techniques have been developed. Why study an area that seemingly is well matured and developed?

The main reason is a perceived lack of accounts of enterprise modeling practice and particularly with the social perspective taken in this research project. Literature is rife with proposals for languages, methods and tools for modeling in general and enterprise modeling in particular. However, enterprise modeling with the purpose of improving human understanding is not perceived to be satisfactorily covered. Other applications have received considerably more attention, like building of simulation models for computer integrated manufacturing or conceptual modeling as a part of information systems development. The kind of enterprise modeling investigated in this thesis does not seem to have been considered equally important.