Practice or lip service: exploring collaboration perspectives in purchasing

Wesley S. Boyce (Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
Ray A. Mundy (College of Business Administration, University of Missouri Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA)

IMP Journal

ISSN: 0809-7259

Publication date: 16 October 2017



The purpose of this paper is to convey a sample of current collaboration perspectives in purchasing. The purchasing function has a critical role to play in collaborative relationships since it is a key facet of any given supply chain. These relationships may be beneficial when coordinated actions benefit buyers, suppliers, and the entire supply chain more than the uncoordinated efforts of individual firms. Despite the commonly reported benefits that can be gained in close relationships, recent research has indicated that collaboration attempts between firms in supply chains have not been as widespread as anticipated.


This research investigates the progress the purchasing function has made in achieving collaborative supply chain relationships. Input is gained from purchasing professionals via semi-structured interviews of procurement professionals. Grounded theory is used to deduct key themes from the interviews.


Results from a small sample size of nine interviews indicate that collaboration in purchasing has not yet reached the theoretical ideal, and it is suggested that key issues such as trust still do not exist at levels that would be appropriate to support collaborative relationships.

Research limitations/implications

This paper can be used as a basis to support further analysis that may broaden the scope of input from purchasing professionals. It is also difficult to draw generalizations from an interview method, and the sampling technique utilized limited the pool of potential interviewees to a sample size of nine semi-structured interviews.

Practical implications

This paper provides insights that purchasing professionals and those that deal with them can consider when engaging in supply chain relationships. It provides potential insights into where the purchasing function stands in its use of a collaborative strategy.


This paper focuses specifically on how the purchasing function is utilizing collaboration by gathering input from purchasing professionals. This practical viewpoint provides a realistic perspective that complements previous research on collaboration.



Boyce, W.S. and Mundy, R.A. (2017), "Practice or lip service: exploring collaboration perspectives in purchasing", IMP Journal, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 452-467.



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