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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16564||2006||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Volume 12, Issue 4, July 2006, Pages 182–196
While an area of importance and concern to managers, international purchasing remains an under researched phenomenon, especially in the context of small and medium-sized firms. Therefore, this article presents a study of the international purchasing market entry processes of 10 industrial SMEs. The findings indicate that managers of SMEs are often reluctant to source abroad. Purchasing markets entries are generally more reactive than proactive, occurring as a consequence of needs for certain products that cannot be found domestically, high domestic costs, unsolicited opportunities and pressures from owners and customers. Nearby purchasing markets typically dominate throughout the process unless cost savings motivate firms to explore more remote markets.
In the last decade, significant changes have been noted in the practice of purchasing, changes that have been met with a great deal of academic research. Partly, as a consequence of increasing trade liberalisation and improved IT support, one area that has increased greatly in importance to firms is international purchasing. For example, in Sweden importing increased by 38% between 1990 and 2000 (SCB, 2005). In research, however, international purchasing (also referred to as inward internationalisation) has received only a small fraction of the attention directed towards international sales and manufacturing (also referred to as outward internationalisation; Katsikeas et al., 2000; Liang and Parkhe, 1997; Hertz and Mattsson, 1998; Servais and Moller Jensen, 2001; Lye and Hamilton, 2001). Possibly, normative assumptions regarding economic exchange among business organisations as a largely seller-driven activity have a role in this. The implicit belief is often that the seller is the party that has to identify foreign buyers and adapt to foreign ways of doing business. Research shows that this is far from always the case, however. Buyers are often active in initiating and forming international exchange relationships (Ellis, 2000; Liang and Parkhe, 1997). In discussions of internationalisation and international trade, large firms are often in focus. They possess the resources to seek out and select customers and suppliers internationally. Large firms also often have international or even global organisations to manage these activities. Nonetheless, significant advances in the knowledge of international activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been made in the past three decades, as evidenced by a great deal of published research. The observation made above regarding a bias in research towards focusing on sales rather than purchasing, however, is especially valid in regard to SMEs (here understood as firms with at least ten but less than 250 employees, see e.g. European Commission, 1996). Scholars often consider different acts of internationalisation to be related. Earlier decisions as well as experiences and relationships from past business impact future business. Internationalisation can, therefore, be seen as a process of connected decisions and actions. Typically, internationalisation process research is concerned with trying to establish patterns in which markets are entered over time and how they are entered. It also focuses on finding explanations for these patterns (Bjorkman and Kock, 1997). Internationalisation process research is relatively plentiful, although less so in the case of SMEs (Coviello and McAuley, 1999). Common to nearly all this research, though, is that it focuses on international sales or international manufacturing. Although observations have been made to the effect that SMEs are increasingly becoming involved in diverse international activities (Apfelthaler, 2000; Julien, 1996), little is known about SMEs’ international purchasing processes (Zeng, 2003). Nonetheless, some insights about SMEs’ international purchasing have been made, typically without focusing on processes. Mainly, extant research stresses motives for, problems in, and extent of international purchasing, often with a focus on North American firms (Servais and Moller Jensen, 2001). For example, Deng and Wortzel (1995) studied US importers (although not just SMEs), concluding that geographic location of suppliers mattered little. Rather, price, quality and promptness of delivery were highly rated criteria. There are also some European studies. In a Survey of 139 small Danish importing manufacturers, it was found that international purchasing was widespread, although largely limited to nearby countries (Servais and Moller Jensen, 2001). Absence of local alternatives prompted firms to buy internationally and it was found that the buying firms were much less likely than in domestic purchasing to be approach by the seller. Along the same lines, in a multiple-case study Quintens et al. (2005) found that smaller firms often preferred indirect international purchasing, and were generally reactive. Like Servais and Moller Jensen (2001), Quintens et al. (2005) also found that SMEs primarily bought from foreign suppliers when there were no domestic alternatives. Similarly, in a study comparing purchasing activities of large and small US firms, Scully and Fawcett (1994) found that small firms’ foreign purchasing was more likely to be reactive and unplanned. They found that the decision to source internationally was largely a response to a specific opportunity that presented itself or was taken as a specific need arose inside the firm. Such studies, thus, provide some insights into managerial thinking and practices regarding international purchasing. Extant studies, however, do not generally focus on how international purchasing processes form over time, clearly a poorly developed research area (Zeng, 2003; Quintens et al., 2005), especially where the process of establishing purchasing relationships and entering international purchasing markets is concerned (Zeng, 2003; Matthyssens et al., 2003). In fact, in the research conducted for this article not a single published article specifically on international purchasing market entry processes of SMEs—i.e. the process of SMEs becoming involved in purchasing on new markets over time—has been encountered. The purpose of this article is to address that gap. More specifically, it aims to explore if patterns in purchasing market entries over time can be identified and, if so, how these patterns can be explained. Below, insights from outward internationalisation research are discussed as a guide for this study. The subsequent section outlines a research project aimed at investigating the international purchasing market entry process of SMEs, followed by a presentation and discussion of some findings from this project. The final section of the article presents conclusions and discusses some implications and limitations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article contributes to the international business and purchasing fields by studying a phenomenon increasingly recognised as important for small firms, namely international purchasing. More specifically, it focuses on identifying patterns in the process of foreign purchasing market entry. Several conclusions can be drawn from this study. Overall, the foreign purchasing market entry process may be termed primarily need-driven and opportunity-driven. Occasionally, the process may also be described as external pressure-driven, when firms are more or less forced into new markets by powerful stakeholders such as customers and owners. Different periods in the process may be labelled differently, however. At times firms’ needs lead them to seek out new markets, at other times the decision to exploit unexpected opportunities leads firms into other markets. In regard to this, no general pattern has been found across firms. Overall, though, the process may be described as reactive, with few indications found that managers proactively exploit foreign markets to gain competitive advantage. This is one explanation why a fairly clear pattern can be noted in this and other studies of international purchasing (such as Servais and Moller Jensen, 2001); Relatively few purchasing markets—especially those remote in terms of physical and psychic distance—are entered. Another explanation is that there is little point perceived by managers in sourcing from a variety of different markets, unless these markets satisfy different needs or offer advantageous price levels. It is, therefore, quite logical that the number of purchasing markets is not very high, and that the rate of expansion into new purchasing markets is relatively low. Further, although foreign sourcing avoidance and negative attitudes to foreign purchasing lend the slowly unfolding process of purchasing market entry the appearance of being largely deliberate, it also exhibits strong emergent properties, often forming as a reaction to external and internal pressures or unsolicited offers. There is apparently little or no thought to long-range planning regarding which foreign sourcing markets to focus on, even if managers often claim that market selection is important in purchasing. Like in the case of outward internationalisation (Fillis, 2001; Coviello and McAuley, 1999), it appears difficult to create frameworks that comprehensively describe and explain expansion into international purchasing markets, and there is no single pattern that all firms follow. Rather, this study suggests a number of indicators to look for when attempting to describe and understand how the international purchasing strategy of a firm develops over time. When modelling the international purchasing process it is clearly purposeful to look both at motives and triggers of new market entries. While the motive to enter a new market may be to save on costs, the trigger may be an unsolicited offer to buy a new product or a chance meeting at a trade fair. Process formation can, thus, be explained at two levels. Extant international purchasing literature has certainly recognised these and a variety of other drivers of international purchasing (see e.g. Deng and Wortzel, 1995; Servais and Moller Jensen, 2001; Quintens et al., 2005; Matthyssens et al., 2003), although has not sufficiently addressed the motive-trigger distinction and its implications for the study of how processes form. It is also important to recognise that even if there are strong motives to purchase from new markets, managerial attitudes to foreign purchasing may still be negative and managers may want to spend as little time as possible finding new foreign suppliers. There are, thus, often attitudes constricting the process, in addition to other constraining factors such as exchange risks, lack of knowledge, and limited resources to devote to international purchasing as identified by Matthyssens et al. (2003) and Servais and Moller Jensen (2001) in other studies of international purchasing. When simultaneously considering motives, triggers and constrictors, greater understanding of new purchasing market entries can be gained, and the process may be described in terms of opportunity-driven or need-driven and may be explored in terms of reactivity–proactivity and emergence–deliberation. The study has further implications for the research of international purchasing. First, it implies that integrating internationalisation process theories with the relationship/network perspective is relevant for describing and explaining international purchasing. Evidence for interplay between organisational learning and expansion, as stressed by some studies of internationalisation, remains somewhat elusive in the context researched here, though. Second, the inward–outward internationalisation analogy has proven fruitful. Many of the factors describing and explaining outward internationalisation are relevant also on the sourcing side of internationalisation. Some caution must be exercised when applying this analogy, though, since motives for expansion into sales markets and purchasing markets differ, as do apparently managerial attitudes to such expansion; Market selection in purchasing may to a greater extent be seen as secondary to the choice of supplier, while selection of customer or intermediary is perhaps more often secondary to selection of sales market. Third, Jones’ (1999) suggestion that internationalisation processes can fruitfully be charted through the identification of cross-border linkages over time has been tested and found highly relevant. It is a challenging approach, though, placing great demands on access to appropriate respondents. There are several limitations in regard to this study. Firstly, it is based only on observations from 10 firms, all from a specific geographical area, all traditional industrial firms with a strong focus on manufacturing. A great measure of caution should, thus, be used before inferences are drawn to other geographical and industry contexts. Further, the study is based on interviews with respondents only in the ten focal firms. Consequently, it considers only the perspective of one of the parties in the relationships identified. Regarding future research, a lot remains to be done in regard to international purchasing processes, both of SMEs and of larger firms. This study has primarily focused on market entry processes forming over long periods of time. Little is known about the process of identifying and selecting individual foreign suppliers and supply markets. Further, while connected to the purchasing market selection process, the purchasing mode selection process has received little attention. There are many different modes relevant in sourcing, such as direct and indirect importing, use of import agents and contract manufacturing. Little is known about initial choices of purchasing modes and changes between purchasing modes. Finally, an important observation for managers is that, while it is widely recognised that purchasing capabilities can be a source of competitive advantage to firms, this study implies that international purchasing among SMEs is more reactive than proactive in nature. Proactively searching for opportunities to purchase novel products or save on costs, rather than simply undertaking international purchasing when no acceptable domestic alternatives exist, could arguably strengthen many firms. Managers would therefore be wise to consider the international marketplace as a source of achieving competitive advantage not just on the sales side, but also on the purchasing side of business activities.