Reference models generally represent information models (especially data and process models) for specific areas. To create new information models, constructs are taken from existing reference models and adapted and extended in the specific context. In reference modelling, the construction and use of reference models is analyzed in order to efficiently design the reuse of model contents.


To develop a new theory by means of various empirical data collected with methods such as coding, interviews or observations.

In doing so, a cycle of data collection and evaluation is followed until the evaluations no longer provide new insights. This results in a theoretical model.


Central to the method is the choice of design techniques. Furthermore, the models should be usable for the organization. The reference modeling follows a systematic procedure:


  • Identify the application domain: e.g. industries, business functions, no original business background
  • Construction of the model elements: The domain is conceptualized using a modeling language. The deductive approach is based on company-specific models, whereas the deductive approach is based on theoretical assumptions.
  • Evaluation: The evaluation takes place during and after the creation of the reference model. During the creation, the principles of orderly modelling can be used [7]. After creation, the economic and technical effects of the model are examined.
  • Maintenance: Reference models should be continuously revised to meet new requirements or to eliminate model errors.


  • Selection: A suitable reference model is selected from the available reference models
  • Adaptation: The selected reference model is adapted to the conditions of the specific company/application context
  • Integration: A reference model can be integrated with an existing company-specific model. On the other hand, several reference models can also be aggregated to form a "large reference model


Core Literature

  • [1] Fettke, P. (2006). Referenzmodellevaluation - Konzeption der strukturalistischen Referenzmodellierung und Entfaltungontologischer Gütekriterien. Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Mainz.
  • [2] Fettke, P. ; Loos, P. (2004). In: Wirtschaftsinformatik, 46, Nr. 5, 331-340.
  • [3] Fettke, P. ; Loos, P. (2007). Perspectives on Reference Modeling. In: Fettke P. ; Loos P. (Hrsg.): Reference Modeling forBusiness Systems Analysis, Hershey, PA, USA, et al., 1-20.
  • [4] Delfmann, P. (2006). Adaptive Referenzmodellierung. Methodische Konzepte zur Konstruktion und Anwendungwiederverwendungsorientierter Informationsmodelle, Berlin, zugl. Diss. Univ. Münster.
  • [5] vom Brocke, J. (2002). Gestaltung und Verteilung von Konstruktionsprozessen. 2. Aufl., LogosVerlag, Berlin, 2016, zugl. Diss., Univ. Münster.
  • [6] Schütte, R. (1997). Grundsätze ordnungsmäßiger Referenzmodellierung: Konstruktion konfigurations- undanpassungsorientierter Modelle. Wiesbaden, 1998, zugl. Diss., Münster.

Further Literature

  • [7] Becker, Jörg; Ehlers, Lars; Schütte, Reinhard (1998). Grundsätze ordnungsmäßiger Modellierung - Konzeption, Vorgehensmodell, technische Realisierung, Nutzen. In: Projektträger des BMBF beim DLR (Hrsg.): Tagungsband zur Statustagung des BMBF. Softwaretechnologie. 1998, S.63-93.
We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.