To read this content please select one of the options below:

Evaluating outsourcing partners' capability: a case study from the pharmaceutical supply chain

Min Zhang (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Kulwant S. Pawar (Nottingham University Business School, Centre for Concurrent Enterprise, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Janat Shah (Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur, India)
Peeyush Mehta (Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 21 October 2013




Many pharmaceutical companies outsource their research and development and manufacturing operations to value chain partners. Effective evaluation of outsourcees' capabilities and relationship management are often central for outsourcers to secure sustainable competitive advantage. This study aims to investigate how to evaluate outsourcees and manage outsourcing relationships in the pharmaceutical industry based on the theory of dynamic capability (DC).


The investigation used an exploratory multiple case study approach. The data collection, spanning a period of 12 months, entailed a multinational pharmaceutical company (PharmCo) with its headquarters in Europe, and four contract research and manufacturing organizations from China and India.


The results show that PharmCo evaluates its outsourcing partners based on their dynamic capabilities, which include processes (project deliverables, communication, and accuracy of costs), positions (financial assets, number of scientists, spectrum of services, and geographical presence), and paths (past experiences). The findings indicate that a pharmaceutical company outsources to partners with high operational capabilities, whereas it builds fully integrated outsourcing relationships only with those that have high dynamic capabilities.

Practical implications

Findings from this study provide guidelines for practitioners in manufacturing industries to efficiently and effectively evaluate and manage outsourcees to deal with the challenges and risks associated with strategic outsourcing.


The paper contributes to the literature by providing empirical evidence on the role of DC in outsourcee evaluation and outsourcing relationship management in the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, the paper illustrates how to conceptualize and measure the DC as a multi-dimensional construct. The analysis also indicates that partners' dynamic and operational capabilities play different roles in outsourcing relationship management.



This research was supported by the BioPharm UK-India Science Bridge Programme and Centre for Concurrent Enterprise, Nottingham University Business School.


Zhang, M., S. Pawar, K., Shah, J. and Mehta, P. (2013), "Evaluating outsourcing partners' capability: a case study from the pharmaceutical supply chain", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 24 No. 8, pp. 1080-1101.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles