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The influence of product life cycle on the efficacy of purchasing practices

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this study is twofold. First, to examine the contingent role of the product life cycle on the efficacy of purchasing practices. Second, to use the results of the first investigation to explore the adequacy of the profit-maximization framework for explaining purchasing decision making. This second investigation is motivated by growing evidence on the role of institutional factors in explaining supply chain management practices. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Survey data from a sample of North American manufacturing firms, across four standard industry sectors, are analysed using ANOVA and linear regression, to examine the hypotheses. Findings ‐ The results indicate that product life cycle has a contingent effect on the efficacy of some purchasing practices but not on others. Interestingly, the results suggest that the profit-maximization framework is capable of explaining only some purchasing decisions but not others; firms adopt certain purchasing practices in certain product life cycle stages, even when these practices have no apparent effect on purchasing performance. This raises a need for an alternative framework to profit-maximization, to better understand purchasing decision making. Originality/value ‐ The paper pioneers an empirical examination of how product life cycle moderates the relationship between purchasing practices and purchasing performance. The paper presents novel insights on the inadequacy of the rational profit-maximization framework to explain purchasing decision making. Furthermore, the paper presents testable propositions on the role of institutional factors that are potentially driving purchasing decision making in managing the product life cycle contingency.
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Keywords: Contingency; Product life cycle; Purchasing; Supply chain management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 15, 2013

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