A being taking on or being able to take on an action

Introduction to the notion

The notions of actor and role are sometimes confused (especially in UML literature). We do draw a distinction between them though, just as we do in everyday language: an actor takes on or plays a role. The actor is therefore a person or, more generally, an entity that is involved in an action. The role stipulates the behavior that the actor must respect during this action.


The notion of being is the same as that modeled in the generic models, as the root of the object sub-domain “Ontology”. It covers more specific notions of person, entity, organization, etc. Instances of these subclasses may all intervene as actors in the activities.

The term “actor” will be reserved to refer to the actual contributor in an activity. This may be a person or an organizational entity (enterprise, management, department, team…), but will always be a human entity, either individual or collective.

The actor can be internal, that is to say a stakeholder in the organization being considered. External actors are individuals and entities that interact with the organization.

In the Praxeme approach, automata and automatic systems are not considered as actors: even if they carry out all of a given activity, they are still under the responsibility of a human actor. Automata belong to the logistic aspect and are designed, in the logical aspect, from the semantic and pragmatic models. They cannot therefore be represented in the pragmatic aspect, as contributors to the processes. However, we can mark an activity as being automated, something that the BPMN notation enables us to easily do. An actor must always be responsible for an automatic activity.

Related terms: role, action, pragmatic aspect, organization, rights.

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