The effective use of information and communication technology, or ICT (Barua, Kriebel, & Mukhopadhyay, 1995; Burn & Szeto, 2000; Mahmood & Mann, 2005; Mukhopadhyay, Kekre, & Kalathur, 1995; Sircar, Turnbow, & Bordoloi, 2000; Zammuto, 1982), requires a careful design of information systems and the business processes they support from a communicative perspective (language-action perspective). The literature on language action provides a broad spectrum of frameworks for modeling business processes, for example, business action theory (BAT; Goldkuhl, 1996, 1998; Goldkuhl & Lind, 2004), dynamic essential modeling of organizations (DEMO; Dietz, 1999; Dietz & Habing, 2004; Liu, Sun, Barjis, & Dietz, 2003; van Reijswoud, 1996; van Reijswoud & Dietz, 1999), action workflow (Denning & Medina-Mora, 1995; Kethers & Schoop, 2000; Medina-Mora, Winograd, Flores, & Flores, 1992), action-based modeling (Lehtinen & Lyytinen, 1986), and conversation for action (Winograd & Flores, 1986). Among these frameworks, BAT can be seen as the most general because it does not commit the modeler to any specific methodology allowing for a free choice of the most appropriate one in the context. A possible choice would be that of the situation-adaptable work and information systems modeling method (SIMM; Goldkuhl, 1996).
Background: Business Action Theory
Business action theory has been introduced by Goldkuhl (1996) and was refined and adapted on the basis of further empirical evidence in Goldkuhl (1998) and Goldkuhl and Lind (2004). It is based on socio-instrumental pragmatism (SIP; Goldkuhl, 2002) that combines communicative (social) and material (instrumental) aspects of actions. The roots of BAT are speech act theory (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969) and the theory of communicative action (Habermas, 1984).
According to BAT, business interaction involves two principal players, the supplier and the customer, where the former sells to the latter. At the core of BAT is the so-called business transaction that consists of six phases. Table 1 shows these phases and the generic business actions that constitute the phases on the respective side of the transaction (i.e., supplier or customer).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Function: An aspect of a business act.
Material Function: A function of a business act that changes the state of the physical world.
Phase: A stage in a business process such as proposal, fulfillment, or assessment.
Communicative Function: A language-based function of a business act that aims at changing the state of mind of the addressee. It is used for coordinating business activities.
Business Act: A business action that cannot be decomposed.
Business Action: A social action aimed at an actor with the purpose of achieving a goal.
Layer: Granularity of a business action such as business act, action pair, or exchange.