Nowadays, economic organizations are dramatically changing towards networked structures (Österle, Fleisch, & Alt, 2000). These are characterized by core competence specialized value units (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990) that intensively interact along the added value in order to cooperatively generate the intended product. This intensification of exchanges leads to strong, collaborative relationships (also called collaborative business (cf. Camarinha-Matos, 2002). In these structures, the generation of added value is highly distributed through the network. In this respect, the relationships between such enterprises are more than simple supplier-purchaser-relations. They represent a crucial part of the output generation chain, or in other words, of the collaborative business process. The latter means the sequence of activities within this collaborative network that result in the generation of the intended output. However, the conventional understanding of business processes is limited to a single enterprise (e.g,. in Davenport, 1993; Hammer & Champy, 1993; Scheer, 1999). Attempts to extend the business process concept to inter-enterprise environments only substitute the department of an enterprise by a whole enterprise itself (e.g., Hirschmann, 1998). However, this understanding does not reflect the special properties of collaborations that cannot be considered as a huge corporation-like enterprise. Therefore, this article investigates the collaboration in regards to the business process aspects and reveals the special properties that differentiate collaborative business processes from “simple” crossorganizational ones and others.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Allied Business Processes: Are processes of enterprises that have agreed on a strategic alliance. They are characterized by an alignment of the processes in order to foster its shared objectives and to avoid any impeding.
Co-operation: The adjusted acting of multiple, self-dependent enterprises in order to jointly follow shared business objectives and to increase their competitiveness.
Fractal Business Process: Constituted between the fractal units of a fractal enterprise. It is composed of autonomous parts that are steered and controlled by a central unit: the organizational core.
Virtual Business Process: The synchronized processing order of an execution network of a virtual enterprise. It is derived from the abilities preserved in the base network and designed in order to provide a specific output only for one single business opportunity.
Collaborative Business Process: A set of mutually synchronized actions of peering and autonomous enterprises in order to conjointly provide an output for an external customer.
Collaboration: An interworking by division of labor of peering and autonomous enterprises that conjointly provide a differentiable output in a long-term business relationship and under mutual coordination.