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Nature of functional involvement in make or buy decision processes

Anna Moses (Division of Operations Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Pär Åhlström (Stockholm School of Economics, Centre for Innovation and Operations Management, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 21 August 2009



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the nature of functional involvement in the cross‐functional make or buy decision process.


The paper is based on literature within the areas of cross‐functional make or buy decision processes as well as cross‐functional process research in general. The empirical part of the paper is a longitudinal and in‐depth case study, where the data are collected using interviews, documentation and observations. The data are analyzed using chronological patterns.


Findings indicate a changing pattern between close collaborative integration during decision‐making phases and more interaction‐focused integration during data‐gathering phases. The benefits of this integration pattern mainly lay in the effective use of resources combined with increased decision quality.

Research limitations/implications

The results are based on a large manufacturing company that produces complex products. It can be suggested that the scene researched by the authors may be common for companies in the same environment. However, it is a limited sample and future research would benefit from investigating different environments to establish whether the results are context‐specific or not.

Practical implications

Five phases are found in the make or buy decision process where resources are used differently. Also, different functions have different roles during these phases in order not to drain resources.


The paper helps clarify how functions integrate and use resources during different phases of the make or buy decision process and the cross‐functional benefits and effects. A conceptual model is developed that explains the effect of functional involvement during different types of integration.



Moses, A. and Åhlström, P. (2009), "Nature of functional involvement in make or buy decision processes", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 29 No. 9, pp. 894-920.



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