Improving systemic success factors in a university to achieve more effective and efficient operations: Using the PrOH modelling methodology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to improve the efficacy of professional support services and teaching processes within a leading UK university so that they align better to changing academic requirements and external market forces, using a novel systems thinking methodology. A case study is given from a school in a leading UK university. Design/methodology/approach: The case uses a novel process modelling methodology known as the process-orientated holonic modelling methodology. Abducted rationalisation is used to reflect upon the 4V’s theoretical concept of operational characteristics (volume, variety, variation over time and visibility). The paper also briefly describes the unique systems thinking principles behind the methodology and its use of abductive rationalisation. Findings: The methodology and models show that it is advantageous to simultaneously review strategic processes and operational processes because this enables roles, processes and tasks to be more purposefully redefined and more closely meet endogenous organisational requirements and exogenous market forces. Originality/value: This work will interest organisational analysts wishing to use a novel approach to improve strategy and operational processes in higher education and universities. The practical implications of the study are discussed using the 4V’s theoretical concept: volume of throughput, variety of offerings, variation over time and visibility of processes to students. The international context and implications are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-654
Number of pages25
JournalBusiness Process Management Journal
Issue number2
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited


  • 4V’s operational characteristics
  • Action research
  • Higher education
  • Holistic thinking
  • Language teaching
  • Operations strategy


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