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Paper info: Tasks of the purchasing function


Tasks of the purchasing function


Steffen Muxoll Bastholm
University of Southern Denmark
Steffen Muxoll Bastholm and
Kristin B. Munksgaard
University of Southern Denmark
Kristin B. Munksgaard

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 34th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2018.


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The present study provides in-depth insights into how the purchasing functionís tasks are defined, divided and performed. Through an in-depth single case study the results shed new light on the purchasing functionís tasks when managing customer-supplier interfaces. By modifying Araujo et alís (1999) typology of customer-supplier interfaces as theoretical framing the case study reveals that the features of the task, the involvement of other actors, and the time horizon, all influence how the purchasing functionís tasks are defined, divided and performed. The studyís contributions are trifold regarding the theoretical implications. First, the study highlights new ways of defining the purchasing tasks through interaction. Second, the study contributes with the discussion of the moving boundaries between and within firms. The purchasing function needs to be capable of understanding and manage the boundaries between direct and indirect relationships through interaction with other actors. Finally, the study highlights the need for development of capabilities for managing interaction and balancing the strategic and operational tasks. The capabilities include understanding and managing the time horizon as the strategic tasks relates to having a long-term future outlook. For firms, a new outlook on the purchasing function is required since the features of the tasks are being altered. Developing from primarily reactive and specific tasks to interactively developed and emergent tasks entails a new way to evaluate the performance of the purchasing function as well as a new understanding of the on-going alignment of internal roles and division of tasks.