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How procurement managers view low cost countries and geographies: A perceptual mapping approach

Joseph R. Carter (W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Arnold Maltz (W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Tingting Yan (W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Elliot Maltz (Atkinson School of Business, Williamette University, Salem, Oregon, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 11 April 2008

Abstract

Purpose

There is good evidence that the shift in global sourcing is toward so‐called “low cost country suppliers.” Yet conditions in these countries are often not well‐known. At the same time, best practices in integrated supply dictate a multi‐faceted decision, rather than basing supplier location on a single attribute say, labor cost alone. With these issues in mind, a research project was formulated with two primary objectives. First, the authors wanted to compile the knowledge and perceptions of purchasing managers regarding low cost regions and their capabilities and to reflect the multiple factors involved in current sourcing strategies and supplier selection decisions in these low cost geographies. Second, the authors wanted to compare managers' subjective perceptions with objective data regarding attributes of sourcing locations to identify the relationship between perceptions and reality. This paper aims to explore the issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors surveyed over 100 sourcing professionals on their perceptions of various low cost sourcing alternatives. Perceptual mapping techniques were used to combine the rankings on some 12 different attributes to visualize how the various attributes relate to each other and how the low cost regions compare when rated against sourcing managers' ideal perceptions.

Findings

The research results show that procurement managers select regions for low cost sourcing based on both specific measures and individual and/or group perceptions of the region, whether these perceptions are correct or not. This paper probes these perceptions. Also the paper compares these subjective perceptions with objective data to show that cultural stereotypes may bias managers' perception of location‐specific characteristics. The paper closes with implications for procurement managers and opportunities for further research.

Practical implications

The authors have demonstrated that purchasing managers choose sourcing locations using multiple criteria instead of only focusing on cost. But some perceptions are biased by cultural stereotypes and do not reflect reality. This suggests that managers have to be careful when using their subjective judgment in choosing sourcing locations.

Originality/value

The authors believe that visual representations of alternative sourcing options have great potential to improve the efficiency of cross‐disciplinary and multi‐company teams that are increasingly responsible for global sourcing strategies. Comparing managers' perception with objective data of location attributes shows that mangers' perception may be biased by cultural stereotypes.

Keywords

Citation

Carter, J.R., Maltz, A., Yan, T. and Maltz, E. (2008), "How procurement managers view low cost countries and geographies: A perceptual mapping approach", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 224-243. https://doi.org/10.1108/09600030810866995

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited