Interfacing in supplier relationships: A theoretical analysis of the multiple roles of purchasing
Paper in proceeding, 2014

The evolution of the purchasing discipline has provided evidence for the importance of supplier relationships. Meanwhile the purchasing practice has evolved, resulting in an expansion of the role of purchasing, incorporating development objectives in addition to the previously prioritized cost rationalization focus. In the organizing of buyer-supplier relationships, relationship characteristics determine the roles of the purchasing function. In this respect, previous literature distinguishes between transactional and collaborative relationship features. Both regarding the roles and relationship features, existing research has emphasized the change between past and present characteristics. While acknowledging these contributions, this conceptual paper emphasizes that there is no best or preferred type of buyer-supplier relationship but rather different organizing is suitable for different purposes. Hence, the aim is to theoretically analyze the link between relationship organizing and the roles of purchasing. This is achieved relying on a nuanced conceptualization of the relationship features based on four different types of buyer-supplier interfaces. The economic logic behind the roles of purchasing are understood using the economizing concept, which provides the basis for the link between the organizing of relationships and what can be achieved by them. Following this conceptualization, tensions are identified in the simultaneous strive for development and cost rationalization.

buyer-supplier relationship



Roles of purchasing


cost rationalization


Ingrid Hessel

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Industrial Marketing

Nojan Najafi

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Industrial Marketing

Proceedings of the 23rd IPSERA Conference

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Economics and Business

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