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Workflow management systems, a relatively recent technology, are designed to make work more efficient, integrate heterogeneous application systems, and support interorganizational processes in electronic commerce applications. In this paper, we introduce the field of workflow automation, the subject of this special issue of Information Systems Frontiers. In the first part of the paper, we provide basic definitions and frameworks to aid understanding of workflow management technologies. In the remainder of the paper, we discuss technical and management research opportunities in this field and discuss the other contributions to the special issue.