Purchasing: Can we bridge the gap between strategy and daily reality?

By Desirée Knoppen and María Jesús Sáenz

Forthcoming in Business Horizons, Elsevier.


Continental differences in purchasing strategies and tools


This article focuses on the similarities and differences between the continental purchasing strategies and tools of companies in Western Europe and North America. The main question examined here is the strategic priorities and tools that European and North American buyers use (at the category level) for direct purchases and how they differ.

The analysis is based on an empirical study of 224 companies from 10 countries. The results suggest that Europeans emphasise a reduction in prices and total cost of ownership as strategic objectives, while North Americans place greater emphasis on compliance with social and ethical guidelines. Both groups place surprisingly little emphasis on environmental objectives. In terms of tools, North American buyers have higher utilisation of electronic tools in purchasing and in communicating with suppliers, while European buyers appear to more extensively use purchasing tools associated with rating and auditing suppliers.

Overall, it appears that a majority of purchases take place in home countries and close-by regions. Accordingly, we argue that practices adopted there offer interesting insights for international purchasing of the companies.

Available here.

A transaction costs approach to purchasing portfolio management


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose a theoretically sound and empirically tested classification system composed of purchasing strategic categories as a basis for purchasing portfolio models.

Design/methodology/approach – An international, cross-industry survey has been designed to assess the characteristics and corresponding strategies of the purchasing categories.

Findings – The paper operationalises the constructs derived from previous scientific contributions related to purchasing portfolio management and transaction cost economics (TCE) to empirically test the purchasing portfolio. In total, four different types of strategic categories have been identified, and distinctive competitive priorities have been found.

Research limitations/implications – Managers might be able to identify different types of purchasing strategic categories, whose characteristics drive specific purchasing strategies. Longitudinal data and more extensive tests of the characteristics of each category might contribute to improving the proposed research framework.

Originality/value – The research overcomes some of the classical limits of purchasing portfolio models, including the absence of a theoretical and empirical basis. In particular, TCE is used to support and expand traditional purchasing portfolio approaches, and a broad empirical base is used to test such an approach.

Available here.


Who is IPS?

The International Purchasing Survey (IPS) project is a research initiative of academic researchers in Purchasing and Supply Management from 7 different countries. Currently, the following institutes are involved: Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Universität der Bundeswehr München (Germany), Linköpings Universitet and Högskolan i Gävle (Sweden), Aalto University School of Economics (Finland), EADA Business School (Spain), Audencia Nantes (France) and University College Dublin (Ireland)