تاثیر از استعاره های تکاملی و توسعه ای در مدیریت عرضه و خرید : یک انتقاد
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8822||2008||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Volume 14, Issue 3, September 2008, Pages 192–204
A widespread consensus has emerged in the Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM hereafter) field arguing that purchasing and supply activities may be allocated to the categories of ‘strategic’ and ‘non-strategic’. Whereas strategic activities are associated with higher inter-organisational status, non-strategic activities are regarded as generating low levels of status. Consequently, purchasing functions can obtain more intra-organisational status by focussing their efforts on strategic activities, and they should thus be encouraged to undergo this change, which may usefully be described as following an evolutionary or developmental path from a clerical to a strategic focus. The paper seeks to demonstrate the strength of the consensus surrounding these ideas by conducting a wide-ranging literature survey, challenges the validity of that consensus and empirically tests its influence on practitioner attitudes and behaviours. Abundant evidence is found to support the proposition that a consensus has emerged. The validity of this consensus is challenged in a variety of ways, particularly with reference to the distribution of large and small companies in the economy. The pilot study confirms that practitioners have absorbed the consensus view promulgated by academia. The undesirable effects of the bias against certain types of activity on functional and overall organisational effectiveness are considered, and recommendations are made for both practitioners and academics working in the subject area.
In 2005, in the process of constructing a model based on assumptions about attitudes within firms towards the role of the PMS function, Paul Cousins observed that: …if a firm adopts a cost focused approach to its competitive position it will be unlikely to consider supply as a strategic process, because its competitive priority is to reduce cost…Whereas if a firm sees itself as a differentiator in the market place, it is likely to take a more strategic view of supply; supply will be seen as a source of competitive advantage through inter-organisation collaboration management. (Cousins, 2005, p. 422) Logic would suggest that companies focussing on costs as their primary source of sustainable competitive advantage (SCA hereafter) would quickly identify the Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) function as central to any strategic efforts. This is the function through which up to 80% of the organisation's costs are pouring and whose continuous contact with large numbers of suppliers offers the possibility of generating many more strategically significant, cost-reducing innovations than any firm could hope to achieve from its internal resources alone. However, Cousins suggests that such companies will tend to regard the function as tactical or operational in nature only. We find this counter-intuitive, deeply puzzling and it raises the question of why such companies should fail to recognise the PSM function's potential for cost-based contributions to overall strategic survival. This paper seeks to offer an answer to that conundrum by identifying and subsequently challenging a widely held set of beliefs concerning purchasing activities, types of PSM function and that function's strategic contribution and status. In planning this research the authors had three objectives in mind. Firstly a literature-based critique of models of strategic development and their relations with purchasing activities, secondly a pilot study to determine if the mistaken emphasis identified in the literature critique was reflected in practitioner attitudes and behaviour and finally a full-scale survey-based investigation of those attitudes and behaviours drawing on evidence from the pilot study. However, because the study attacks widely held beliefs in the field, the first stage of the study had to be an extensive, systematic and structured literary critique (Tranfield et al., 2003). The paper will show that there is very wide support for the claim that some activities contribute little to an organisation's ‘strategic’ performance and therefore generate low status. In the PSM literature these have been labelled variously as ‘clerical’ or ‘administrative’ and the like (see Table 1), and include activities such as negotiation. Others, such as involvement in the generation of purchase specifications before orders are placed, are afforded the description of ‘strategic’ and assumed to generate high status. The paper will demonstrate the strength of, and lack of challenge to, this widely supported consensus in a variety of literatures, before critically assessing the validity of its assumptions. It is further argued that because metaphor constitutes one of the most powerful mechanisms for the transfer of ideas from academia to practice, the consensus is currently reinforced by the widespread use of the concept of the ‘evolution’ of the purchasing function and its supposed ‘stages of development’. Both of these metaphors embody an assumed gradation of activities from low to high status and from clerical to strategic. It will be shown however, that there is no isomorphic mapping of activities and strategic contribution and that the existing allocation of a variety of purchasing activities into ‘operational’ or ‘tactical’ status-related categories is deeply misleading. Moreover, the evolutionary and developmental metaphors are themselves shown to be unhelpful. These conclusions are followed by an empirical pilot study designed to test the extent to which academic beliefs have penetrated practitioner attitudes and behaviours. The paper discusses the implications of the findings for PSM practitioners and academics alike. Finally, proposed ‘next steps’ for research arising from this paper are presented. 1.1. Purchasing activity category beliefs—evidence from the literature The arguments and explanations that unfold in this paper rest partly upon the claim that the beliefs described are sufficiently widely held to constitute a consensus on the subject of the contribution of different purchasing activities to an organisation's strategic objectives. In support of this contention, what follows is an extended exploration of the relevant literatures that draws upon a larger and more wide-ranging selection of references and quotations than might normally be expected in a paper of this kind. It may be argued that the PSM and related literatures embrace a widespread acceptance or belief that the PSM function in many companies has still not attained the status that it deserves, and that some activities are capable of generating perceptions of high status for the function performing them, whilst others support perceptions of low status. Because of a supposed connection between certain types of activity and their contribution to SCA, high-status activities are frequently, but not exclusively, linked to the word ‘strategic’, whilst the supposed generators of low status are frequently associated with the term ‘non-strategic’. In the ‘non-strategic’, ‘low status’ category can be found activities also labelled variously as ‘administrative’, ‘clerical’, ‘reactive’, ‘tactical’, ‘non-integrative’, ‘short-term’ and ‘routine’ in nature. It will be demonstrated that these beliefs are so long-standing and well established in the PSM and associated literatures that, to use Galbraith's elegant phrase, they constitute a ‘conventional wisdom’ in the field (Galbraith, 1977). Thus in the strategic purchasing literature: These stages of development move purchasing from a clerically oriented function within a firm to a strategic contributor. (Reck and Long, 1988, p. 3) Elsewhere, Leender et al. (1994) focus on ‘routine’ and ‘operational activities; Ellram and Carr (1994, p.10) highlight the terms ‘administrative’ and ‘strategic’; Watts et al. (1992, p. 3) summarising attitudes in other publications, compare ‘overall corporate competitive strategy’ with ‘lower level operating function’, whilst White and Hanmer-Lloyd (1999, p. 30) argue that few of the function's ‘administrative’ tasks generate ‘strategic’ advantage. Similar references can be found in the Marketing field where Gebauer and Zagler (2000, p. 102) repeat the negative use of the term ‘operational’ in their description of purchasing functions and their activities. Murray (2001, p. 407) echoes the theme in the public purchasing literature, while in the HR field, Humphreys et al. (1998, p. 3) add the adjective ‘tactical’. In the general management literature Moody (2001, p. 18) employs the concept of ‘short-term’. One possible indicator of the point at which a general agreement on a subject matter transforms into a conventional wisdom is when it begins to appear in both the introductions to papers, thus Goffin et al. (1997, p. 422) and their abstracts (Pujawan, 2004, p. 1). Perhaps most tellingly of all, the clerical-strategic vocabulary with its implicit status allusions has been appearing for the last quarter of a century in those ultimate repositories of generally accepted opinions on subject matter—standard PSM textbooks (Aljian, 1982, p. 15; Scheuing, 1989, p. 364; Steele and Court, 1999, p. 1; Lysons, 1996, pp. 1–9; Gadde and Håkånsson, 2001, p. 11; Burt et al., 2003, p. 26; Van Weele, 2005, pp. 93–6). Illustrative examples of expressions of the conventional wisdom from all of these sources are shown in Table 1. An examination of the various authorities cited above indicates that the word ‘strategic’ is used in at least two different manners. Firstly to refer to activities that may enhance the intra-organisational status of the purchasing function, and secondly to activities likely to contribute to overall organisational competitive advantage. In the interests of clarity, in what follows we shall distinguish between the two ideas by referring to the former meaning as contributing to ‘intra-organisational status’ and the latter to ‘strategic advantage’. To justify being described as the basis of a ‘conventional wisdom’ it is essential that the publications offered in evidence are mainstream and widely read. An indication of the respect paid by the PSM field to the works listed above is provided in Table 2 which shows the frequency with which each work has been cited by other authors. The consensus on the desirability of avoiding ‘clerical’ activities is taken to its logical conclusion by authors who suggest that in the longer term the function may move away entirely from activities such as order placing, that are believed unlikely to improve its intra-organisational status, and delegate them to user departments and suppliers through such mechanisms as purchasing cards and outsourcing. Ultimately, they argue, the PSM function may become a small, specialised department focussing more or less exclusively on make-or-buy decision-making and specification generation—see for example Cox and Lamming (1997) and Cavinato (1999). Carter et al. (2000) meanwhile, introduce the phrase ‘tactical procurement’ as a short-hand expression for clerical activities, and offer empirical evidence that PSM professionals agree with these predictions: The future will hold tremendous changes in tactical procurement in purchasing activities and how they are accomplished. Focused strategic purchasing organizations will be a major contributor to their businesses. Key activities will continue to include supplier evaluation selection and development including cross-functional and cross-enterprise teams. However tactical purchasing activities such as ordering, quoting, expediting and so forth will be automated and/or outsourced and headcounts will be reduced. Selected low-value, noncritical standard commodity purchases are likely to be outsourced to full-service providers. (Carter et al., 2000, p. 17) It should be noted that the literature review carried out to generate Table 1 was not exhaustive insofar as no attempt was made to refer to every published work dealing with the purchasing function and purchasing activities. Only those works that dealt with links between activities and the function's contribution to strategic advantage or improved intra-organisational status were included. However, no publications were found arguing that activities labelled using terms such as ‘administrative’, ‘routine’, ‘clerical’ or the like were capable of contributing to SCA. Consequently it is argued that one may reasonably conclude that there is indeed a conventional wisdom in the PSM field which assumes that it is possible to allocate activities performed by PSM functions to the categories of ‘strategic’ and ‘non-strategic’, and that activities in the former category are generally associated with higher intra-organisational status than the latter. Before critically assessing the conventional wisdom we turn now to an examination of the way in which the literature utilises metaphor in discussing PSM organisational development.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
From a practitioners’ perspective, in addition to the undesirable effects described above under the heading of “Focussing on ‘strategic’ activities will enhance status”, the most serious shortcoming of the development stages approach to describing what PSM functions do and should do, is that it is wrong. The kind of organisations most likely to be adversely affected by a belief in the validity and general applicability of the process and the organisational recommendations that flow from the evolutionary models are those that rely upon administrative activities for their SCA and those that have not yet managed to bring supplier selection and maverick purchasing under control. The thrust of the argument presented above is not that organisations cannot improve, but that there is no ‘one right way’ that is suitable for all to follow (Taylor, 1911). Although some may well embark upon strategies that ultimately prove damaging to the PSM function, the most serious risk is that organisations and their functions are misled into believing that they do not need to work out for themselves what structures and processes best suit their circumstances. The ‘right way’ for any individual organisation's PSM function will be contingent on a host of idiosyncratic factors such as their product lines; the nature of the markets in which they trade; the behaviour of their main competitors; the abilities of their suppliers; the skills and weaknesses of their staff and so on. The risk that organisations may be tempted to ignore such factors when determining how to develop strategic advantage and follow instead the path suggested by some notional ‘stages of development’ model is all the more serious because those models now constitute the conventional wisdom. The functions most likely to be damaged will be located primarily in large companies and those small- and medium-sized organisations that successfully grow and rely upon the recommendations of the developmental models in the design of their nascent PSM functions. Because the adverse effects will be concentrated in the large company sector, the total number of companies involved will be small. However, that limitation is true of much of the output of the PSM academic field which tends to focus on the interests and activities of large and very large companies. 7.1. The effects on academia The treatment in the literature of developmental models of the type described above is a vivid illustration of the dangers of generalising from small, atypical samples. The models are only of interest and relevance to the very small number of large companies in any economy. However, this truism is rarely made explicit by the relevant authors. Since SMEs typically account for more than half of a country's total economic output and employment (DTI, 2005), from a national policy viewpoint it would therefore help businesses and the nation if experts might be persuaded to make it clear that such models are only applicable, if at all, to very large corporations, and should be disregarded by all others. More generally, when a field sees the emergence of a consensus on a subject matter that has different implications for companies of different sizes, it should try to ensure that there is a spectrum of recommendations to match those sizes. Furthermore, the discussion above clearly leads to the conclusion that the ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ categorisation of activities is deeply unhelpful. There is a wide variety of possible activities that PSM functions can become involved in, including filing manual copies of purchase orders and facilitating technological innovation in global supplier networks. However, there is no single, generally-applicable ranking of these activities in terms of their contribution to the function's intra-organisational status or SCA. Nor is there any single sequence in which they should be addressed to achieve optimal functional performance. The choice and sequencing of activities is organisation-specific. Generalisation is not possible. In diagrammatic terms, rather than a sequence of activities rising along a line to the right, it might be more useful to visualise the PSM function sitting in the centre of a randomly arranged circle of possible activities. Different functions within different organisations will find that different groups or clusters of activities appear more or less important at different points in time. One function struggling to control the effects of corrupt interactions between internal customers and suppliers may find it advantageous to have control of the entire order-raising and supplier-selection process, but a different function working in an organisation where corrupt and maverick purchasing has been eliminated might prefer to delegate the bulk of the order-raising activity to users, and so on. 7.2. Conclusion At the heart of the conventional wisdom lies the argument that some PSM activities are intrinsically non-strategic and that because improvements in the function's strategic contribution will enable the function to improve its intra-organisational status, it should focus on strategic activities. This argument has been shown to be unsound. Overall, the potential benefits resulting from belief in this faulty reasoning may not justify the distorting effect it has on perceptions, or the perverse impact it is likely to have on some PSM function decision-making processes. Moreover, in larger companies, it may also be having an undesirable negative impact on higher management perceptions of the function's contribution and hence status. It should be noted that it is not being suggested that the function should become a passive, clerical, paper-processing department. However, in organisations where a function does not yet exist, or is very small and struggling against widespread maverick purchasing activity, getting control of the ‘low-level’ clerical activities is an essential objective. Nor should the arguments above be read as an attack on the concept of a consensus, which is after all a useful heuristic that allows practitioners to quickly determine priorities and communicate complex ideas efficiently, and enables academia to move on to new, under-explored topics. However, one other effect of a consensus is that it tends to suppress critical thought on the relevant subject matter, and the academic world could serve business better by conducting periodic reviews of the type essayed here in order to uncover and correct any errors.