Climbing the stairs of purchasing maturity: essays on purchasing development, internal service quality and sourcing outcomes

E. Van Poucke

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 4 Research NOT TU/e / Graduation NOT TU/e)


With the growing competitiveness in the business environment, firms increasingly concentrate on their core business and rely more than ever on external resources. Accordingly, in many organizations more than half of the turnover value is spent on purchased goods and services, making effective and efficient purchasing management indispensable for a firm’s success. As a result, the role of the purchasing function in organizations has changed dramatically during the past few decades. Whereas it used to serve as a passive, administrative support function, nowadays it increasingly adopts a strategic position in organizations as a proactive, internally integrated business function that manages the supply base. This transformation process has been referred to as the purchasing development or maturity process in academic literature. Despite this phenomenon’s contemporary relevance and crucial role, academic research on this topic has left some critical questions unanswered, to which this doctoral dissertation takes a first important step. Three overarching research goals are envisioned. First, this thesis gains a deeper understanding in the purchasing maturity concept and the relevance of purchasing maturity models. Second, the thesis provides insight into the process of purchasing development and this from a purchasing – internal customer relationship perspective. Third, the thesis verifies the direct performance implications of purchasing maturity growth in terms of both social and economic related sourcing outcomes. These goals are addressed in four chapters, whereby the first two build on a qualitative research design. The third and fourth study rely on quantitative data on sourcing projects. Each chapter examines a specific aspect of purchasing development. In Chapter 1, the relevance of purchasing maturity models for both scientific and managerial purposes is investigated. A critical comparison of several models is provided as well as a roadmap for further development of these models. Chapter 2 unravels the purchasing development process from a purchasing – internal customer interaction perspective. It maps a mutually reinforcing growth path of purchasing maturity and internal service quality through which purchasing can lever its position in the organization. In Chapter 3 we explore the effects of early purchasing involvement, as proxy indicator of purchasing maturity, on cost savings in sourcing projects. In addition, the latter’s interrelationship with internal customer satisfaction is empirically verified, as well as the extent to which sourcing complexity acts as boundary-condition to purchasing involvement. Chapter 4 deepens and extends the third study as it investigates the effects of purchasing involvement and proactivity on value creation and supply risk reduction outcomes of sourcing projects. The dissertation ends with a conclusion in which we reflect on the three overall research goals by combining and integrating the insights of the separate studies. Cumulative research, methodological and practical implications are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Antwerp
  • Matthyssens, P., Promotor, External person
  • van Weele, A.J., Promotor
Award date9 Feb 2016
Place of PublicationAntwerpen
Print ISBNs978-90-8994-136-7
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Dissertation University of Antwerpen


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