Purchasing and supply management and the role of supplier interfaces

Luis Araujo (Manchester Business School, Manchester, United Kingdom)
Lars-Erik Gadde (Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Anna Dubois (Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)

IMP Journal

ISSN: 0809-7259

Publication date: 14 March 2016



The purpose of this paper is to provide an historical account of the evolution of the purchasing and supply management (PSM) field from the perspective of resource interfaces between buying firms and their suppliers. This historical account is then used as a platform to develop a framework for understanding of the capabilities required to manage a cluster of resource interfaces.


The paper uses an historical survey of practices and ideas in the PSM field to develop a theoretical argument on capabilities to manage resource interfaces between buying firms and their suppliers.


The paper proposes a framework linking learning, interactive capacity and interactive capability as they evolve through the interplay between resource interface type, organizing principle and technology strategy.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes a conceptual framework focussing on the capabilities that underpin the management of individual resource interfaces.

Practical implications

The paper offers the following practical implications: first, the firm needs to consider what type of interface applies in the relationships with its suppliers: second, the firm needs to consider its technological strategy in light of its current supplier interfaces and organizing principles: third, the internal as well as external organizing needs to be aligned with what the firm proposes to achieve from its supplier relationships and be congruent with the interfaces deployed to manage those relationships: fourth, interacting with suppliers is a matter of learning regarding the outcomes of the interaction as well developing interactive capacities and capabilities.


The paper provides a first attempt to go beyond the characterization of individual resource interfaces in buyer-supplier relationships, to look at the capabilities required to manage multiple resource interfaces and the dynamics underpinning paths of development for those capabilities.



Araujo, L., Gadde, L.-E. and Dubois, A. (2016), "Purchasing and supply management and the role of supplier interfaces", IMP Journal, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 2-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMP-06-2015-0025

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