Organising Purchasing and Supply Management Across Company Boundaries
This thesis deals with the organising of purchasing and supply management. Many researchers claim that organising is an important determinant of purchasing and supply management performance. However, previous research focuses more on other aspects than on organisational arrangements. Existing organising research adopts a mainly firm internal focus. Several authors have called for research on the link between internal organising and the organising of the relationships with suppliers. However, these two areas have been studied separately.
The research aim is to analyse the organising of purchasing and supply management to explicate ‘what’ is organised across company boundaries, and ‘who’ is organising. The study is based on the theoretical foundation of the industrial network approach.
A single case study was conducted, focusing on the purchasing and supply management of a manufacturing company and its organising efforts in relation to three supplier relationships. This was studied and analysed, focusing on four purchased systems that cover a range of organising issues. Data collection included 84 interviews at seven companies, internal documents and observation of buyer’s and suppliers’ production facilities.
The study shows that ‘who’ is organising involves several departments in the buying firm: purchasing, product development, product and project management. These organising entities have different roles in cross-functional and cross-corporate arrangements. The most significant aspects of ‘what’ concerned the organising of system boundaries and project boundaries that are important in linking design and manufacturing activities across company boundaries. Network effects were also identified because they impact on the opportunities for combining of resources and coordination of activities in relation to individual buyer-supplier relationships.
These findings have theoretical and managerial implications. In relation to theory, this study constitutes a bridge between two separate bodies of literature. The managerial implications involve two key considerations in organising across company boundaries. The first deals with managing of project and product contexts while the second addresses the interplay between technical and commercial aspects.