Process Management as a Contagious Idea: a Contribution to Røvik’s Virus-Inspired Theory
Journal article, 2012

‘Travelling ideas’ denotes the fact that virtually identical management ideas crop up more or less simultaneously in similar organizations. Røvik, who recently launched his ‘virus-inspired theory’ approach, seeks to pinpoint the possibility that the encounter between idea and practice may be lasting, ideas may affect practice, and leaders in organisations may play a more active role than the one often depicted in management fashion theory. This article is a contribution to his virus-inspired theory. It focuses on processes in their pragmatic form, as value-creating flows in organisations. We have studied Process Management (PM) as an idea, and how it has penetrated and flourished in the Swedish Customs Service. We argue that the empirical test in this article supports Røvik's belief that a virus-inspired theory gives a richer picture than the fashion theory. Through our analysis we show that four of our six hypotheses, derived from the virus-inspired theory, are strengthened by the empirical story from the Customs Service.


Process Management

travelling ideas


management fashion

public sector


Johan Quist

Karlstad University

Andreas Hellström

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

International Journal of Public Administration

0190-0692 (ISSN) 1532-4265 (eISSN)

Vol. 35 13 901-913

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Business Administration



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