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Digital/web‐based technology in purchasing and supply management: a UK study

David Gallear (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)
Abby Ghobadian (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)
Nicholas O'Regan (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




To date little is known about the actual level of utilisation of digital/web‐based interaction technologies in purchasing and supply management (SM) in the UK. This paper seeks to address this gap in the extant knowledge through empirical research in a UK setting. It examines the level of usage, the uses, the perceived benefits, and future perspective on the use, of web‐based technology in purchasing and SM.


An empirical survey of UK‐based organisations was undertaken. Information simultaneously collected on the buyer‐supplier relationship orientation of the firms in the sample was used to test the proposition that the use of web‐based technology leads to stronger collaborative relationships with suppliers.


Data obtained from 156 valid responses indicated that six in every ten organisations use web‐based technology to support purchasing and SM activities, but that the usage is lower in small to medium‐sized enterprises. The main uses reported are for communicating with suppliers, for marketing products/services, and for locating technical data. Making purchases over the internet was significantly more prevalent in organisations exhibiting relatively more partnership orientation.

Practical implications

The findings provide only limited evidence in support of the proposition that the deployment of web‐based technology leads to stronger buyer‐supplier relations. However, findings do suggest that the effectiveness of the purchasing and supply function can be enhanced through greater use of web‐based technology for online purchasing and for efficient consumer response.


The paper establishes salient UK managerial perception on the strategic and operational importance of web‐based technology adoption in purchasing and SM.



Gallear, D., Ghobadian, A. and O'Regan, N. (2008), "Digital/web‐based technology in purchasing and supply management: a UK study", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 346-360.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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