18 December 2023

In the dynamic landscape of business, the use of process management has often been associated more with large corporations than with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Yet, SMEs are significant contributors to the global economy, facing similar challenges as their larger counterparts while operating under resource constraints. Recognizing this gap, Priscilla Navarro, in her dissertation, explores the strategic role of process management in SMEs and how it can be leveraged effectively.

Priscilla Navarro.
Teiksma Buseva

SMEs are the backbone of the global economy, representing a diverse range of industries and playing a pivotal role in job creation and economic growth. Like their larger counterparts, SMEs must navigate the ever-changing business landscape and respond efficiently to market demands.

“Process management, traditionally associated with operational support, has often been viewed in the context of a trade-off between operational efficiency and strategic flexibility in organizations. I believe that the strategic potential of process management has been overlooked,” says Priscilla Navarro.

Priscilla Navarro's research sheds light on this underexplored area of study by addressing two key research questions. The first question delves into the fundamental principles of process management and their contribution to understanding its strategic role. The second question investigates how SMEs, characterized by their unique conditions and limitations, can utilize process management by adapting it to have a greater importance for the company´s strategy.

The findings of Priscilla Navarro's dissertation advocate for a contingent approach to process management, identifying activities that can confer competitive advantage to organizations. By aligning these identified activities with the strategic goals of the organization, the need for process development becomes apparent. This approach allows process management efforts to be focused on activities that can genuinely enhance an organization's competitive position.

In today’s market, organisations need to be able to react to their business environments and deal with not only customer requirements but also with societal requirements. Their survival depends on their flexibility to face these challenges better that their competitors. Process management can support strategic goals such as environmental sustainability by providing a structure in which the strategic goal is deployed into operative goals that are more achievable and easier to follow up by the company. Also, the use of process management decreases the vulnerability for the companies by making sure that the abilities that generate competitive advantages are based on the organisation instead of the individuals.

Priscilla Navarro. Photo credit Teiksma Buseva

"For example, if an employee leaves the company, there is no one that can perform the activities and the competitive advantage and the knowledge risk to be lost. With process management, the activities go from an individual level to an organisational level, helping them to behold these abilities over time and achieve the strategic goals,” explains Priscilla Navarro.

Priscilla Navarro's dissertation is a step towards recognizing and realizing the untapped potential of process management in SMEs, ultimately enhancing their strategic capabilities in the ever-evolving world of business. Her work provides actionable insights that promise to shape the future of process management and SMEs in the global marketplace.

Three recommendations to SME's


Identify activities that make you difference from you competitors and that are difficult for them to replicate.


Determine which of those activities are the most important and which are part of repetitive processes that should “just work”.


Develop processes, set goals and measurements for them aligned with the goals of your organisation.

Read more about our research on sustainability challanges in the logistics industry

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