Purchasing and supply management at the purchase category level: Strategy, structure, and performance Defended on Friday, 10 January 2014

Over the past two decades, purchasing has evolved from a clerical function focused on buying goods and services at a minimum price into a strategic function focused on value creation and achieving competitive advantage. This dissertation examines how firms can effectively manage their various purchase categories in order to have a high purchasing performance. Building on the strategy-structure-performance paradigm of contingency theory, I specifically focus on the link between purchase category strategies, purchasing and supply base structures, and purchase category performance.

Analyzing data from an international purchasing survey project, I identify five purchase category strategies based on the competitive priorities emphasized: Emphasize All, Cost Management, Product Innovation, Delivery Reliability, and Emphasize Nothing. The findings demonstrate that some strategies are more likely to be implemented under certain conditions, but that it is possible to implement multiple purchase category strategies in an effective way under the same conditions. After identifying these strategies, using the same data set I examine the link between purchase category strategies and purchasing structure. The results suggest that the strategy-structure misfit has a negative impact on the quality of how purchasing processes are executed, which in turn decreases cost and innovation performance. Finally, I investigate the link between purchase category strategies and supply base structure, an external structure affected by strategy. Using the multiple case study method, I develop propositions to be tested in future studies. Consequently, this dissertation extends knowledge on purchasing and supply management by generating theoretical and managerial insights regarding how to successfully manage purchase categories.


purchasing, supply; purchase category; purchasing strategy; purchasing structure; supply base; innovation; survey; case study; measurement equivalence

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