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Tools without skills: Exploring the moderating effect of absorptive capacity on the relationship between e‐purchasing tools and category performance

Katri Kauppi (Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland)
Alistair Brandon‐Jones (Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK)
Stefano Ronchi (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Erik M. van Raaij (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 14 June 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The paper examines the moderating role of a purchasing function's absorptive capacity (AC) on the relationship between the use of electronic purchasing tools and category level purchasing performance. The authors argue that an e‐purchasing tool may not in itself positively influence performance unless combined with AC as a human interface to maximise its information and transactional improvement potential.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data collected from 297 procurement executives of large companies in ten countries are analysed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and hierarchical moderated regression.

Findings

The results demonstrate few significant direct effects of e‐purchasing tools on category performance. All performance measures studied are enhanced when dimensions of AC and their interactions with the e‐purchasing tools are added. Specifically, buyer competence, manager competence and communications climate have performance‐enhancing effects. In some cases, AC on its own appears to increase performance more than e‐tools.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to study the moderating effects of AC on the relationship between e‐purchasing tool usage and category performance. Its findings support the view that simply implementing technology does not lead to performance improvements, but that a human interface is required to maximise the information and transactional improvement potential of e‐purchasing tools.

Keywords

Citation

Kauppi, K., Brandon‐Jones, A., Ronchi, S. and van Raaij, E.M. (2013), "Tools without skills: Exploring the moderating effect of absorptive capacity on the relationship between e‐purchasing tools and category performance", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 828-857. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-12-2011-0445

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited