Why Work Around the Process? Analyzing Workarounds Through the Lens of the Theory of Planned Behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Workarounds are a common practice in a broad range of organizational and technological contexts, which has received much attention in information systems research. They are sometimes considered negatively, associated with business risks and noncompliance, and sometimes positively, as a source of innovation and improvement. Although workaround-based process improvements typically adopt the workaround if its consequences are not harmful, this is not always the best option. The paper aims to pave the way for leveraging workarounds for process improvement by understanding problems that motivate them, so alternative solutions can be developed for these problems. Despite many proposed explanations, an in-depth understanding of the reasons underlying employee decisions that lead to workarounds is still needed. To this end, following a qualitative research approach, data were collected in six case study organizations, investigating workaround decisions made by employees through the lens of the theory of planned behavior. The principal unique theme running throughout the findings is that workaround motivation stems from perceived misalignment between organizational, local unit, or personal goals and their realization in business processes. Workarounds are enabled by various factors, including perceived workaround opportunities in the organization. These findings are abstracted to form an explanatory model as a contextual adaptation of the theory of planned behavior to explain workaround intentions. The proposed model explains workaround decisions in a way that can leverage this understanding to promote concrete process improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-389
Number of pages21
JournalBusiness and Information Systems Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research is supported by the Israel Science Foundation under grant agreement 669/17.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH.


  • Goals
  • Misalignment
  • Processes
  • Qualitative study
  • Theory of planned behavior
  • Workaround

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems


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