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Dimensions of change in make or buy decision processes

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

Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1753-8297

Article publication date: 19 September 2008




The purpose of this paper is to determine the dimensions along which make or buy decision processes change over time.


The paper is based on a longitudinal in‐depth case study of a large industrial company, where the data were collected using interviews, documentation and observations. The data were analyzed using chronological patterns, and findings were then compared with the literature on make or buy decision processes.


Nine dimensions were found along which the make or buy decision process had changed over time. The dimensions were cross‐functionality, structure, regularity, formality, awareness, mandatory, information distribution and management and flexibility. The causes of the changes were related to a combination of company internal and external events and contexts.

Research limitations/implications

The findings should be seen as a first attempt in assisting in the creation of a foundation for constructing more dynamic make or buy decision process models. However, since the findings are based on a single case, they need to be complemented by more research in order to help determine how context sensitive the identified dimensions are.

Practical implications

The nine dimensions of change can be used as a checklist for managers in designing their decision process.


The paper adds to existing research, which takes a static viewpoint and does not include a dynamic perspective, in that, the longitudinal nature of our research creates opportunities for developing more dynamic make or buy decision process models. The paper clarifies how make or buy decision processes develop over time, and how they cannot be seen as a one‐time implementation but rather as a process that needs both structure and flexibility.



Moses, A. and Åhlström, P. (2008), "Dimensions of change in make or buy decision processes", Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 230-251.



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