Organizational Buying Behaviour Contents 1. Objectives 2. 1 Introduction 3. 2 The organizational-buying-behaviour process 4. 2.1 Buying decision phases 5. 2.2 The buying centre 6. 2.3 Decisions at each phase of the buying process 7. 2.4 A global model 8. Bringing multiple buying influences together 9. 3 Risk and uncertainty—the driving forces of organizational buying behaviour 10. 3.1 The importance of the risk factor in organizational buying behaviour 11. 3.2 A typology of risks 12. 4 Factors influencing organizational buying behaviour 13. 4.1 Types of buying situations and situational factors 14. Who buys the notepaper? 15. 4.2 Geographic factors/cultural factors 16. 4.3 Time factors 17. Box 7.3 The project-buying process 18. Box 7.4 The project buying behaviour 19. Changes in the US OBB 20. 5 Purchasing strategy 21. 5.1 Development of the purchasing strategy

Organizational Buying Behaviour

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Organizational Buying Behaviour


1. Objectives 2. 1 Introduction

3. 2 The organizational-buying-behaviour process

4. 2.1 Buying decision phases

5. 2.2 The buying centre

6. 2.3 Decisions at each phase of the buying process

7. 2.4 A global model

8. Bringing multiple buying influences together

9. 3 Risk and uncertainty—the driving forces of organizational buying behaviour

10. 3.1 The importance of the risk factor in organizational buying behaviour

11. 3.2 A typology of risks

12. 4 Factors influencing organizational buying behaviour

13. 4.1 Types of buying situations and situational factors

14. Who buys the notepaper?

15. 4.2 Geographic factors/cultural factors

16. 4.3 Time factors

17. Box 7.3 The project-buying process

18. Box 7.4 The project buying behaviour

19. Changes in the US OBB

20. 5 Purchasing strategy

21. 5.1 Development of the purchasing strategy

22. 5.3 The nature of the relationship developed with suppliers

23. 5.4 Organizing the buying activities

24. 5.5 Procedures established to work with suppliers

25. Box 7.5 Alpha

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26. A tougher game of musical chairs

27. 6 The future

28. 7 Summary

29. Further reading

30. Discussion questions

31. Mini Case: Internet Supplies Ltd.

32. Discussion question

Section: Understanding and Assessing Buyer Behaviour Objectives

The objectives of this chapter are:

1. to describe the organizational buring process and some models of this process; 2. to identify the main influences on organizational buying behaviour;

3. to distinguish the factors influencing organizational buying behaviour;

4. to consider the role of the purchasing function in modern organizations.

1 Introduction

FACED with the challenges presented by competition, the business practices of industrial firms have developed a great deal since 1980. The intervening period of time has seen many changes, among which the following have been of particular importance: the growth of outsourcing, the increasing power enjoyed by purchasing departments within companies, and the importance given to developing partnerships with suppliers. These three factors are sufficient to point out how important it is for a company to understand the decision-making process of industrial organizations in order to define and undertake the relevant marketing actions.

2 The organizational-buying-behaviour process

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS marketing is based on the understanding of organizational buying behaviour. Researchers and experts have invested a great deal of effort in this study and they have tried and developed an organizational-buying-behaviour model with the intention of structuring marketing approach. As early as the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, various models were developed in the USA (Robinson et al. 1967; Webster and Wind 1972; Sheth 1973). They are at the core of the founding models of organizational buying behaviour. They usually include the various phases of the buying process, the members involved, and the decisions made in each phase. These founding models are explained in detail in many marketing textbooks, but their relevance seems to have decreased over time (Cova and Salle 1992). We have, therefore, chosen to refer to them briefly and to point out the recent developments of the organizational buying behaviour.

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2.1 Buying decision phases

The founding models (of the 1970s) vary in complexity, but they are nevertheless similar in that they break down the buying process into the five following main phases:

need recognition; specifications definition;

search for suppliers;

proposals evaluation;

supplier selection.

However, these phases no longer seem to express exactly how rich and complex the organizational buying behaviour process has become. The innovations and changes brought by other models developed in the 1980s and 1990s need to be taken into account.

The supplier choice model developed by Woodside and Vyas (1987), based on an analysis of six American factories' buying behaviour with regard to raw materials and components, breaks down the buying process into five updated phases:

preparation of the request for quotations (RFQJ; search for potential suppliers;

evaluation and selection of approved vendors for bidding products;

analysis of quotes received;

evaluation and selection of supplier(s).

This model adds the phase, ‘Evaluation and selection of approved vendors for bidding products’, which leads to the setting-up of the ‘approved vendors' list’. This phase has been the focus of many researchers' attention during the 1990s. Thus Jackson and Pride (1986), with a sample of 333 buyers members of the US National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM), showed that a majority (63.4 per cent) used a bidders' list (also called an approved vendors' list, an approved bidders' list, or an accepted producers' list). Descriptive research both in the USA and in Europe shows that the search for suppliers leads to the development of a shortlist of suitable sources, from which a quotation should be requested.

The Matbuy model (Möller 1986), with a sample of six Finnish computer firms, is based on a survey of the process of selecting components suppliers. It includes the eight following phases:

purchase initiation; evaluation criteria development;

information search;

supplier definition for RFQ;

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evaluation of quotations;


supplier choice;

choice implementation.

This model confirms the first phases of the buying process suggested by the supplier choice model and introduces the fourth phase, ‘supplier definition for RFQ’, which results in the creation of the ‘accepted producers' list’. Additionally, it introduces the phase ‘negotiation’ with the selected suppliers after an evaluation of their proposal. By emphasizing that the final selection is not based solely on the submitted proposals but involves negotiating with one or more tenderers, the Matbuy model confirms Dale and Powley's study (1985). Four out of the five British firms they studied negotiated all the proposals received; the fifth one, a public-sector firm, based its choice only on the written proposals. Likewise, a study based on a sample of fifty-eight buyers, members of the Compagnie des Dirigeants d'Approvisionnements et Acheteurs de France (the Company of Purchasing Managers and Buyers of France), showed that many of them (84 per cent) negotiated after receiving the tenders (Cova and Salle 1992).

The founding models developed in the 1970s can be compared with the updated ones of the 1980s on the basis of their breaking-up the buying process into various phases (Box 7.1).

2.2 The buying centre

Industrial marketers have long been aware that some buying decisions are not made by the purchasing agent alone but occur with the involvement of other members of the customer's organization. Industrial sellers are sometimes informed when such instances occur, or it may become obvious from the actions of the purchasing agent. Often, however, the problem is in knowing when such decisions will be the result of group consensus, the make-up of the group, and whom to target within the group to maximize the effectiveness of the offer (see Insert). The understanding of such group-procurement decisions is the study of buying centres.

The buying centre consists of those people in the organization who are involved either directly or indirectly in the buying process. In the founding models, the roles of the members of the buying centre are those of user, buyer influencer, decider, and gatekeeper (Webster and Wind 1972).

Users are defined as members of the organization who use the purchased products and services.

Buyers are those with formal responsibility and authority for contracting with suppliers.

Influencers are those who influence the decision process directly or indirectly by providing information and criteria to evaluate alternative buying options.

Deciders are those with authority to choose among alternative buying options.

Gatekeepers are those who control the flow of information and materials into the buying centre.

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Some researchers, however, now add the role of ‘initiators’ to the previously mentioned ones. The initiator does not always belong to the buying organization, since the organization may not be aware that it has a problem or may be unsure of how to solve it. Companies often rely on the technical knowledge of their suppliers, and, when this is the case, a member of the supplier's organization may initiate the buying process by pointing out a current problem.

This is often the case in project activities. The supplier creates the concept of the project, carries out the feasibility study, gathers the financing package, and identifies the actor that will later become its customer. All this takes place over an extended period of time and includes various actors in a logic of involvement. The project then clearly becomes a technical and social construct initiated by the supplier and raising the interest of the various parties involved inside and outside the buying centre. The buying centre for projects can, therefore, often include participants from outside the organization such as consultants, engineering firms, government officials, etc., that make up a network of actors around the buying organization.

Typically though, participants in the buying process, regardless of their role (user, buyer, influencer, decider, gatekeeper, or initiator), perform their activities as employees of the buying organization. Their actions will therefore be evaluated, and part of all their formal compensation will depend on the outcome of this evaluation process. Purchasing activities are also likely to account for at least some of the informal rewards of the buying-centre participants (Anderson and Chambers 1985). The fact that each individual (especially when they come from different organizational levels) may be evaluated and rewarded according to different performance criteria is a key issue to the functioning of the buying centre. It should be interpreted by a supplier as a major opportunity to use various scenarios to influence the buying centre. Each scenario will depend on the agenda, potential risk, and rewards of the members of the buying centre acting as individuals with sometimes contradictory motives but linked by the same group dynamic of solving a buying problem (Anderson and Chambers 1985).

2.3 Decisions at each phase of the buying process

Organizational buyers are subject to a wide variety and complexity of buying motives and rules of selection. The work of Woodside and Vyas (1987) reveals that the following buying pattern was used by US companies during the 1980s:

A relatively stable set of selection rules applies, regardless of the product being bought or the firms involved.

A conjunctive rule is used by the buyer to disqualify any unsuitable supplier at the beginning of the buying process.

Then, price becomes a major criteria and candidates are disqualified on the basis of a disjunctive rule. The remaining suppliers are typically those whose prices do not exceed the best price offered by more than 6 per cent.

The number of accepted tenders varies greatly but is always higher than three. It may go up to sixteen.

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Most of the time, the final selection is made just after the analysis of the submitted tenders. Some times, however, a negotiation will take place with the suppliers (between two and four candidates) in order to reach the final decision.

Möller (1986) presents the results of a study of the buying pattern used by European companies in the 1980s:

Buyers try to use stable supplier evaluation criteria. This drive for the use of constant evaluation criteria does not lead through to their mechanistic or uncreative application. Depending on the buying market situation, the application forms and the relative importance of the criteria used can vary considerably.

In the early phases of the buying process, the technical dimension and quality are critical criteria. They are used in a typically conjunctive sense to divide up potential suppliers into acceptable/non-acceptable sets. A compensatory approach dominates the final supplier choice, so, if other criteria are clearly above the threshold levels, price will be weighted more heavily.

The buying process is almost always initiated through routinized internal channels. Because of external turbulence, the process is sometimes initiated during the contract term.

The primary information source is the company buying records and other sources are considerably less important.

Whenever possible, a testing sample is requested from a new supplier being considered.

Requests for quotation are seldom sent to more than six potential suppliers, based on the assumption that the evaluation costs would exceed the marginal benefits of a greater group of candidates. Active search for new suppliers is a rare occurrence.

The buying decision-making process appears to be a heuristic exercise in programming. It applies a series of rules to reduce the alternatives to a number the buyer can cope with, and to minimize the element of uncertainty inherent in making a buying decision.

2.4 A global model

The main contribution of the Matbuy model is the dynamic combination of the various phases with the different participants in the decision-making process and with the different criteria and selection rules used in the process (see Box 7.2). In each phase, the Matbuy model includes:

the type of decision to be made; the different departments of the buying firm involved;

the problems faced and the tasks involved.

This model tries to cover the main problems and conflicts that can potentially emerge during each phase.

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It gives marketers a way to focus their efforts on the critical phases knowing who is making what decisions based on which criteria.

Bringing multiple buying influences together

When Klix tried to sell their new drinks dispensing trolley to hospitals, they found that to have it accepted it was necessary to deal with three distinct buying influences in the hospital. First, there were the hospital catering managers, who calculated that it cost 3p to provide a cup of tea from the traditional teapot while Klix's own figures costed a cup ot tea from their trolley at 4.5p. However, the manager in charge of domestic staff, who was responsible for the payroll cost of porters, tea ladies, cleaning staff, etc., found the Klix drinks trolley attractive. This was because using the Klix trolley would reduce costs, as dispensing tea from the trolley was quicker than using a teapot. Finally, the nurses showed some dislike of disposable plastic cups, seeing the traditional teacup as more ‘homely’ and friendly.

3 Risk and uncertainty—the driving forces of organizational buying behaviour

MANY studies have pointed out that the level of risk or uncertainty associated with a given buying situation is a factor explaining organizational buying behaviour.

In these studies, two different points of view have been adopted successively. The first one is focused on understanding how a customer comes to a decision and behaves through the concepts of uncertainty or risk. The second one is centred on the actions undertaken by the supplier given the customer's behaviour.

3.1 The importance of the risk factor in organizational buying behaviour

The risk level depends on the characteristics of the buying situation faced by the customer. According to Johnston and Lewin (1994), when the risk level associated with the buying situation faced by a customer increases, the following occurs:

The buying centre becomes larger and more complex. Participants from a larger number of different departments become involved. They tend to be more experienced and to come from a more senior organizational level.

Price becomes a relatively less important criterion in the decision-making.

Members of the buying centre conduct a more extensive information search (especially during the initial phases of the decision-making process).

The probability of conflicts occurring between the members of the buying centre increases. The greater importance of the outcomes and the conflict between many participants each with their own motives explain this greater potential for conflict.

The negotiation between supplier and customer is collaborative and orientated towards problemsolving. The existence of a relationship between supplier and customer facilitates this problemsolving approach.

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In their study, Hakansson, Johanson, and Wootz (1976) focus on the relationship between a decision and the uncertainty associated with it from the customer's point of view. The buying situation faced by a customer can be characterized by the following three combined dimensions of uncertainty:

The need uncertainty relates to the difficulty that customers find in expressing exactly the nature of their need. When this type of uncertainty is high, the customers interact with suppliers they know and with which they feel comfortable. They are more involved in their relationship with the supplier and include internal and external experts and specialists in the decision-making process.

The market uncertainty results from the existence and nature of the alternative supply sources available to the customer. This type of uncertainty depends on the characteristics of the supply market: the differences between suppliers (market heterogeneity) and the evolution of these differences over time (market dynamic). Faced with a high market uncertainty, the buying firm will have contact with a greater number of suppliers. Decision-makers can also specialize in function of these markets.

The transaction uncertainty depends on the customer's ability to anticipate how the transaction will work, mainly the product delivery and the mode of resolution. Different languages, technologies, and cultures in each organization and the existence or not of standardized procedures allowing faster action influence this mode of resolution. When transaction uncertainty is high, the buying firm uses several suppliers, is more sensitive to delivery questions, and more involved with the suppliers before making the final decision.

The supplier can influence the degree of perceived uncertainty by the buyer along the three abovedescribed dimensions and cause certain desired behavioural reactions. The supplier can use the information transmitted to the customer and implement certain actions in order to increase or decrease the degree of uncertainty depending on the chosen tactic.

In order to function, an organization needs to gain access to resources from suppliers. The degree of risk perceived by this organization will depend on the impact of these resources on its activity, and their characteristics, accessibility, and availability on the supply market in the short, medium, and long term. The organization will implement short-, medium-, and long-term actions to control or decrease these risks. The risk perceived by the customer in the short, medium, and long term is, therefore, considered as a driving force of his buying behaviour. By understanding the sources of the perceived risks and how they are reflected in the actions implemented by a customer, a supplier can adapt his own actions (Salle and Silvestre 1992).

3.2 A typology of risks

The risks perceived by the customer result from a combination of the characteristics of various factors: the transaction he is involved in, his relationships with the supplier, and his position vis-à-vis the supply market (Fig. 7.1).

A distinction can be made between three kinds of risks. First, there are the risks associated with the characteristics of the transactions. The level of risk perceived by the customer depends on the

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complexity and potential outcomes of the problem to be solved during these transactions. This type of risk includes various dimensions: the technical risks, the risks resulting from the availability of the products and services purchased, the risks depending on the customer's ability to use the products and services purchased properly, and the financial risks.

Secondly, the risks associated with the characteristics of the relationship between the customer and the supplier that results from the successive transactions between both parties condition the climate of current and future exchanges between the customer and the supplier and therefore the behaviour of the customer during the transactions. These risks reflect the customer's questions regarding the supplier's ability and willingness to follow up on his offer (products, services, price, logistic) and to adapt it to the changing needs of the customer without infringing on his independence. Some organizations perceive the existence of a tight relationship between customers and suppliers as a situation of dependence, while others see in it a source of security and of progress. There are, therefore, two kinds of risks resulting from the characteristics of the relationship between a customer and a supplier: the risk of becoming dependent and the risk resulting from the supplier's involvement in the relationship.

Thirdly, there are the risks resulting from the customer's position vis-&agrave-vis the supply market. The customer will seek to establish, maintain, or improve his position through his purchasing strategy. The customer's objective is to secure and improve his performance vis-&agrave-vis the supply market. In order to do so, he will manage in a medium- and long-term perspective relationships with his current and potential suppliers to secure various supply alternatives. The customer's buying behaviour during any transaction will, therefore, be influenced by his purchasing strategy.

The members of the buying centre are aware of the risks associated with the characteristics of the transactions, with the relationship with the supplier, and with the customer's position vis-à-vis the supply market. Their perceptions of these risks, though, will depend on their individual characteristics, their position in the organization, their relationships with the other members of the buying centre, the functioning mode of the organization (for example, types of mission impacted, reward system in place), and the information available to them to reach a decision. The various perceptions of the members of the buying centre affect the type and level of risks they perceive and together make up the customer's buying behaviour.

An outside observer who would ideally have access to all the information associated with the decision (characteristics of the problem to be solved, context of the choice, various alternatives available) could judge this behaviour as lacking rationality and the subsequent decision as not optimized. We refer here again to the idea of the bounded rationality of the actors (Simon 1952). The rationality of a decision-maker depends both on the position effect and on the disposition effect. The position effect of the decision-maker depends on the organizational and social characteristics (rules and procedures in place, balance of power and alliances within an organization) that condition his access to information and therefore his perception and the rationality of his decision. The disposition effect of the decision-maker depends on his mental, cognitive, and affective characteristics, which condition his preferences and perceptions. This explains why, depending on the participants' individual characteristics and on the nature of their involvement in the buying centre, the level and types of risk perceived by the various participants

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can differ from what the abovementioned outside observer could ideally identify and evaluate. We, therefore, introduce the idea of risk incurred by the customer. The difference between the incurred risks and perceived risks results from the characteristics and functioning mode of the buying centre.

In order to understand the customer's buying behaviour, a supplier must do two things:

On the one hand, he must investigate the characteristics of the transactions, of the customer's relationships with his supplier, and of the customer's position vis-à-vis the supply market. This analysis can allow the supplier to assess the level and nature of the risks incurred by the customer. This is particularly true if the supplier has access to extensive information either through the experience accumulated while solving similar problems with other customers or through a longlasting relationship with the customer.

On the other hand, a supplier must also analyse the functioning mode of the customer's organization and, more specifically, of the buying centre. This analysis enables the supplier both to define the targets of his actions and to detect possible gaps between incurred and perceived risks.

The existence of these gaps gives the supplier opportunities to develop actions targeted to the members of the customer's buying centre. These actions can have different objectives. They can stimulate the risks incurred by the customer in order subsequently to reduce them, directly reduce the risks, or do nothing that could generate risks. The supplier can therefore ‘play with the risks’.

‘&hellip the role of price in the purchasing process may differ, depending upon the type of product, the repetitive nature of the purchase, and the parties involved (buying group versus individual professional purchaser).’ (Chapter 10, p. 221)

4 Factors influencing organizational buying behaviour

MANY factors influence organizational buying behaviour. Those that research has shown to be of particular significance are discussed in the next three sections, which consider types of buying situations and situational factors; geographical and cultural factors; and time factors.

4.1 Types of buying situations and situational factors

In addition to identifying the buying activities, Robinson et al. (1967) in their founding BuyGrid model discarded the traditional product classification, stated that certain buying situations were far more significant and consistent in explaining buyer behaviour than product variables, and developed a situational scheme called the ‘buyclass variable’. The buyclasses are ‘new task’, ‘modified rebuy’, and ‘straight rebuy’. They represent a continuum ranging from the purchase of items the firm has not previously purchased to items the firm buys routinely:

a new task is defined as the purchase of items not previously purchased by the firm; a modified rebuy is the purchase of items purchased in the past but not recently nor


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a straight rebuy is defined as the purchase of an item that is purchased frequently and regularly.

This Buygrid model has been widely disseminated in marketing textbooks by Kotler and other authors. In fact, the buyclass model has been, and still is, presented in most textbooks as an excellent predictor of organizational buying behaviour, especially as far as the number, the quality, and the influence of the members of the buying centre are concerned. This assumption is based on the work of several researchers (Robinson et al. 1967; Doyle et al. 1979). They emphasize the relevance of the buyclass in predicting:

the time invested in the organizational-buyingbehaviour process (ranging from long for a new task to short for a straight rebuy);

the size of the buying centre (ranging from large for a new task to small for a straight rebuy);

the role of the purchasing agent in initiating the need to buy (ranging from small for a new task to major in straight rebuy).

This positive conclusion is not always corroborated by practical examples. A study conducted by Bellizzi and McVey (1983) in the construction business shows an overall absence of significance of the buyclass variable as a predictor of organizational buying behaviour. There may be a relationship though between the buyclass and the amount of information sought by a buyer, as well as the number of alternatives a buyer will consider when making his purchase decision.

The marketing literature may, therefore, have overemphasized the role of the buyclass variable in organizational buying behaviour. In their previously mentioned study, Bellizzi and McVey (1983) conclude that the product type (operating supplies, major material, accessory equipment, and capital equipment as far as their study is concerned) is a better predictor of organizational buying behaviour than the buyclass (see Insert). They observe that the influence of top managers increases as the product purchased changes from inexpensive operating supplies to expensive capital goods. They also notice that the involvement of architects and, engineering consultants is greater when purchasing capital goods.

Today, the trend in industrial marketing practices is, therefore, to combine the approach of the buyclass model with others focusing on the product types. Note that the concept of product types is here much larger than tangible products and includes on a continuum: tangible products, services, systems, and projects. Using this larger definition, Jennings and Plank (1995) have recently proposed an interesting analysis underlining the relationship between the product complexity and the risk perceived by each member of the buying centre. They define complexity along four dimensions: functional complexity, specification complexity, commercial complexity, and political complexity.

A product is functionally complex when it is made up of a large number of parts or systems. The specifications of a product are complex when it requires extensive testing to ensure that the design requirements are met (see Box 7.3). A product is commercially complex when the product transactions involve complicated procedures such as progress payment, penalty clause, and so

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on. Finally, a product is politically complex when the purchases involve differing factions that could impact the deal.

Most departments in an organization are affected by one or more of the above-described dimensions. Jennings and Plank (1995) recommend formulating the marketing strategy to target the members of the buying centre and offer the following guidelines:

address the functional-complexity issues with the purchasing agent alone; address the specification-complexity issues with the purchasing and manufacturing


address the commercial-complexity issues with the manufacturing and engineering departments;

finally, address the political-complexity issues with top management and the engineering departments.

At the extreme of the continuum previously mentioned, a project is an interesting product type, since it is so specific and complex that it implies a level of sophistication of the organizational buying behaviour not included in the previous models defining the average process (Möller 1986).

The project buying behaviour has the following particularities (Cova and Holstius 1993):

a long-lasting, negotiated and interactive process (see Box 7.4) a request for intercompany links;

an enlargement of both the buying and the selling centres;

a coming-into-play of interpersonal relationships between, on the one hand, the buyers and their networks, and, on the other hand, the suppliers and their networks;

a great importance given to the quality of these interpersonal relationships;

a large set of choice criteria used during each phase.

Who buys the notepaper?

Most types of business stationery are purchased by somebody fairly junior in the hierarchy and are bought, as likely as not, on price. However, a senior member of the management team (perhaps even the Managing Director) will choose the company's stationery with its letterhead. Such a person will usually choose from a number of alternative types of paper and letterhead designs and these will usually have been prepared by a graphic designer, who will determine the quality and perhaps even the brand of the paper that should be used for the stationery. Another group who may have some influence are the printers, whose recommendation may be influenced by the paper that they currently have in stock.

4.2 Geographic factors/cultural factors

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While European companies use the act of negotiating extensively as an opportunity to interact with their customers or their suppliers throughout the buying process, North American ones avoid it as much as possible, since they dislike the idea of an interaction between a customer and a supplier (Cova and Salle 1991). These are, of course, only generalizations, but research tends to confirm them rather than to disprove them, even if these behaviours tended to become more homogeneous in the late 1990s (see Section 4.3).

Referring to the European surveys quoted above (Dale and Powley 1985; Möller 1986; Cova and Salle 1992), one may wonder if the existence or not of negotiations between suppliers and customers does not depend on the business practices and culture of each region. Europeans, on the whole, seem to negotiate after tenders have been submitted. This negotiation is considered as a phase before the final choice takes place. During this phase, more detailed information about the suppliers' proposals and/or the suppliers themselves is exchanged. This phase seems to be used rarely by North American companies. Johnston and Bonoma (1981) showed that the request for bids is sometimes used to identify the lowest bidders, with whom subsequent negotiations will be conducted. More generally, though, negotiations take place only after and not before a supplier has been chosen, with the objective of finalizing certain points of the contract. In the light of the research carried out by Woodside and Vyas (1987), it appears that North American buyers seem more influenced by a competitive ideology, which leads them to reduce the use of negotiation.

The core of the North American approach to organizational buying is the invitation to bid, not according to the European style with negotiation, leading to the final selection (Möller 1986), but according to the American style, with the final selection occurring as soon as the bids have been received by the buyer. According to Woodside and Vyas (1987), North American buyers believe that negotiating is against their company's policy for the following reasons:

vendors quote high prices under negotiating conditions; they quote their best price when price changes are disallowed after bids have been submitted;

if suppliers are squeezed too much, their product quality and service will decline;

during shortage, suppliers will drop customers whose prices and terms are least attractive; with market competition so intense, suppliers have little room to negotiate and already offer an attractive price.

Some explanations can be found to understand this kind of logic. North Americans seem to be uncomfortable when entering the uncertain and imprecise world of personal relationships in business exchanges. They like to predict the nature and the content of these exchanges. American culture, therefore, favours well-defined contracts that allow customers to compare suppliers on the same items and to negotiate more on price. As a consequence, US buyers do not favour medium-term, single-partner, and long-term buyer-supplier relationships (Cova and Salle 1991).

4.3 Time factors

During the 1980s and the 1990s, deep changes took place in the relationships between industrial customers and their suppliers initially in Japan and Europe and later in North America (see Insert). The main reason behind these changes was the fact that, to be competitive in the 1990s, a

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company had not only to obtain the best prices from its suppliers through systematic competition, but also to develop long-term relationships with a limited number of suppliers able to create value and reduce costs.

These changes have affected organizational structures and the characteristics of interorganizational relationships. For example, large industrial companies tend to centralize and coordinate their buying decisions further, pushing suppliers to adapt their approach by using, among other things, key account management. In many areas, the development of new ways to work together and to divide up the activities between the organizations has also increased the complexity of the relationships between customers and suppliers. This has happened in the following areas:

Product development. New products are often codeveloped, which results in a very early integration of the suppliers in the technical platforms of their customers. It is the case, for example, when new models are developed in the automotive industry. In some industries, customers transfer the entire management of the complete technical function to the suppliers. They no longer buy components after having defined the required specifications, but rather use sub-systems or systems already developed by their suppliers.

Delivery. Since 1990 time has become an obsession. A product delivery time is considerably reduced by the just-in-time approach and even more so by the location of suppliers on the customer's production site. The example of the new Mercedes plant located in France to build and launch a new car called Smart in 1998 is very interesting. In order to reduce the production time of this new car, seven suppliers are located on the production site.

Information. We could mention here all the recent technical developments that allow a rapid information flow between organization and, more specifically, electronic data interchange (EDI).

These factors result in a very high interdependence between organizations and in a major modification of the customers' decision process, as illustrated by Fig. 7.2, which was presented during a conference by a supplier in the automotive industry.

Fig. 7.2 compares the traditional system with the new system currently used in this industry. In the traditional system, the design department defines the characteristics of the vehicle's components, the engineering department defines the process, and the purchasing department invites the suppliers to compete based on the specifications and forecast volume. Suppliers are selected in the light of their ability to manufacture at a given cost. The supplier then builds the prototype and the final price is agreed upon before production starts. In this system, the purchasing department is the sole contact point between the manufacturer and the suppliers. The negotiations are based on the most important criterion: pricing. The purchasing department controls the characteristics of the incoming flows: consistency of the quality and degree of commitment to deadlines. The design department is supposed to be knowledgeable about the products and the technologies of the components. An anecdotal example would be the case of a design department of a French automotive manufacturer in the 1980s, which specified the composition of the rubber to be used for a windscreen wiper.

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In the new system, suppliers are selected very early in the process. For example, the decision to launch the Twingo project, a vehicle manufactured by the French automotive manufacturer Renault, had not been finalized by top management when the suppliers had already been selected (Midler 1993). Suppliers are selected, based on their ability to take into account the financial parameters decided by the customer, on their ability to conceive and manufacture a product, on their technological knowledge, and on their ability to become part of the project team managed by the automotive manufacturer. The supplier and the customer work closely together during the conception phase. As the project moves forward, new information is integrated and sub-systems are modified, resulting in the need for various suppliers to adapt and adjust.

The major differences between the two systems are, therefore, the role of the supplier and the characteristics of the interaction between the customer and the supplier throughout the process. The traditional system focuses on the greater autonomy of the customer, while the new system insists on cooperation between the customer and the supplier. Numerous studies underline these changes in various industries. But, even though the managerial and scientific literature focuses on many examples of partnership between suppliers and customers, the industrial buying situation should not be limited to this type of relationship between suppliers and customers. In fact, the variety of existing buying situations and the spectrum of the types of relationships established between suppliers and customers have most probably widened since 1980. This is acknowledged by several scholars (Webster 1992; Möller and Wilson 1995), who offer a classification spreading from ‘market transactions’ to ‘long-term relational exchange’. In the ‘market-transactions’ situation, market forces determine the terms of the exchange that takes place between independent parties in an atomized market. In the ‘long-term relational-exchange’ situation, the organizations involved have a long-term orientation and aim at developing the relationship between them.

‘This change from “a competitive to a cooperative” relationship does not mean that buyers and sellers did not have good personal relationships under the old model. … Nevertheless, the basic atmosphere was one of adversarial negotiation when it came to price setting and to gaining concessions on the size of orders and volume.’ (Chapter 23, pp. 534–5)

Box 7.3 The project-buying process

A buyer wishing to purchase seven locomotives that will serve on the Portuguese National Railroad enquires about recent developments in technology. For this purpose, he contacts the three European suppliers from whom he had already bought locomotives: one English, one German, and one French. The combination of the data he receives allows him, in the space fo four months, to set up a request for proposal. In order to avoid too much variety in his rolling stock, the buyer decides to consult only these three suppliers. The call for tender is sent to all of them with a three-month timespan for the answer. This time is used by each of the three-suppliers to visit the buyer and to (re)-create social links with local subcontractors. Each of the three suppliers responds to the bid and their respective offers are analysed by the buyer, who, after two months, invites each of them to negotiate the bid. during the negotiations, the buyer introduces a new demand that is imposed upon him by his State department: the locomotive frames must be manufactured in Portugal by a small subcontractor under a foreign licence. The three suppliers rewrite their respective offers to take account of this new counter-trade demand.

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After the final round of negotiations, the French supplier wins the bid thanks to a better counter-trade agreement, although quoting the highest price. His counter-trade offer is less risky and more attractive for the buyer and his local network.

Box 7.4 The project buying behaviour

1. Need awareness 2. Search for suppliers (including contacts for recommendations)

3. Definition of specifications

4. Drawing-up of list of bidders

5. Request for proposals

6. Exchange of information

7. Analysis of proposals

8. Drawing-up of a short list

9. Negotiations

10. New proposals

11. Analysis of new proposals

12. Negotiations

Possible repeat of steps 9–12

13. Final assessment 14. Final selection

15. Contract

Source: Cova and Holstius (1993).

Changes in the US OBB

‘Ten years ago, the Japanese were considered as setting the standard reference when someone spoke about the problem of car manufacturer/suppliers. Today, everyone is talking about Chrysler. Many manufacturers analyse its approach in order either to borrow from it, or to adapt or simply to copy it. Created under pressure—the American number three was fighting for its survival, while its best engineers let it down and its R&D was disappearing—it is now a strategic weapon, which has allowed the group to accelerate the renewal of its range of cars at much reduced costs. Chrysler dramatically lowered its R&D costs, while transferring the major responsibility for complete ranges of components to its suppliers, who had already become its partners. These partnership agreements have implications for the very highest level of the

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hierarchy—for example, one of the CEOs with true dialogues on strategies. Investments in R&D are now up to 2.6 per cent of its turnover, while its competitors are up to 4 or 5 per cent.’

Source: Fran&ccdeil;ois Castaing, VP Chrysler, interviewed by Patrick Chabert, in Les Echos, 8 Oct. 1997.

5 Purchasing strategy

THE role played by the purchasing function in the competitiveness of the modern industrial firm is critical for both economic and strategic reasons. The importance of its economic role stems from the fact that it manages a buying volume amounting to between 50 and 80 per cent of the turnover and that its actions impact on the organization's profitability. Its key position as an inter-mediary between the organization and the supply market explains its strategic role.

5.1 Development of the purchasing strategy

The characteristics of current and future business lead the organization to secure resources from suppliers for the short, medium, and long term. These resources must meet as closely as possible the needs of the customer at the best price while offering the highest level of reliability. This process is rendered more difficult by the fact that the various resources to be secured have a different impact on an organization's business and that their availability on the supply market differs greatly.

The objective of the methods used to develop a purchasing strategy is to evaluate and classify the various items purchased in order to be able to choose and manage the suppliers accordingly. This classification takes place along the following two dimensions:

the economic importance of the items to be purchased and their impact on the current and future business of the organization;

the characteristics of the supply market—in other words, the degree of its technical and commercial complexity (stemming from the number of substitute offers available and from the degree of competitiveness of the market). All the product families are evaluated according to both dimensions and presented in a matrix (see Fig. 7–3).

Strategic items. These have a great impact and are important for the customer's business. The complexity of the supply market causes the buying decision to be very risky. Strategic items usually justify a lot of follow-up activities on the part of the purchasing department and the development of partnerships with a limited number of suppliers.

Critical items. These also have a great impact and are important for the customer's business, but the level of complexity of the supply market is rather low. In this case, the risk faced by the organization will depend on its ability to use the items purchased properly.

Bottleneck items. These have a low impact and are not very important for the customer's business, but the supply market is complex. From the point of view of the purchasing managers, such a situation is not acceptable. It exists, however, when buying energy

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(electricity, for example, when the market is not yet deregulated) or raw materials, or when suppliers dominate a market.

Non-critical items. These have a low impact on the customer's business and the supply market is not complex. Pricing is a key decision criterion.

A company's objective will be to move an item upwards or downwards and/or to the left when possible, depending on the position originally occupied by this item in the matrix. If not possible, the organization will have to manage the position originally occupied by the item by trying to increase the accessibility and availability of the resources for its business. Sometimes an organization can choose to limit its dependence on outside sources (make or buy decision). However, over the 1990s the trend for most organizations located in the industrialized world was to outsource heavily. To manage or evolve the position occupied on the matrix by its various items, an organization can use various levers

to influence the overall supply market by trying to modify its position vis-&agrave-vis all the suppliers available for a given item;

to influence a given supplier by trying to modify the characteristics of its relationship with this supplier;

to modify its own position vis-&agrave-vis the overall supply market or a given supplier through the use of its technology, structure, and procedures.

Such an approach is interesting, since it takes into account the various possible situations and allows differentiation between the types of relationship that can be developed with suppliers. On the other hand, the partnership ‘craze’ and the tendency to generalize it to all the purchased items can be criticized (Kapoor and Gupta 1997). Indirect purchases (e.g. main frames, advertising frame, office equipment and supply) represent nearly 25 per cent of the expenses of a manufacturing company and can justify aggressive approaches such as the ones suggested by the proponents of ‘reverse marketing’ (Leenders and Blenkhorn 1988). This type of approach would sometimes lead to a 10–15 per cent decrease in a company's expenses.

The example of Alpha (Box 7.5) will illustrate some of these approaches and the various paths chosen. Note that it is a real case study, but the name of the organization has been changed to ensure confidentiality. The Alpha example underlines the levers used and the manoeuvres undertaken by the purchasing department to evolve or secure its position vis-à-vis the suppliers.

Four levers can be distinguished:

the actions undertaken to influence the supply market; the nature of the relationship developed with suppliers;

the organization of the buying activities;

the procedures developed to work with the suppliers.

5.2 Actions undertaken to influence the supply market

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The Alpha example illustrates a set of actions taken to influence the supply market. Given the importance of the product purchased in its business, Alpha tries to acquire a greater control over the resources available from a limited number of suppliers. Such a control can be achieved either through actions aimed at motivating new suppliers to enter the market, or by threatening suppliers if the market is overly concentrated. An example of the latter took place a few years ago when Italian capital was successfully invested in Valéo, a French supplier. Concerned by the potential power of this supplier, a French automotive manufacturer attempted to hinder the process. The purchasing manager of this manufacturer commented that, ‘since we spend a few billion French francs with Valéo each year, we would like to know the name of its major shareholder’.

In order to modify its position vis-à-vis the supply market, the purchasing department can change the definition of the size of the technological or geographical reference market considered. To satisfy the same need, a company can consider either the use of a single technology or the use of various technologies. The greater the number of technologies considered, the larger the technological reference market and the weaker the power of a supplier in the overall market from the customer's perspective.

The geographic location of the potential suppliers considered by a customer is another criterion used to define the reference market. Many medium-size companies purchase their products on a market located in a loo-kilometre radius around their production site. They, as a result, achieve greater flexibility and control over their purchasing activities. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the French upscale cosmetic and perfume industry. Packaging being a crucial element of their marketing strategy, they look for supplies all over the world, hoping to find packaging ideas that will differentiate their products from those of their competitors.

5.3 The nature of the relationship developed with suppliers

Based on the type of items purchased and on its position in the buying matrix (see Fig. 7.3), a company will develop different relationships with its suppliers playing with the following factors: the number of suppliers (sourcing), the suppliers' share, characteristics of selected suppliers, and the nature of customer-supplier relationships.

Number of suppliers (sourcing). There is no ideal rule and the sourcing choices can differ greatly from one company to the next in identical conditions. Through sourcing, the customer attempts to achieve an acceptable level of dependence vis-à-vis the suppliers without losing the benefit of their competencies and at a manageable cost. Today, many companies significantly reduce the number of their suppliers without hesitating to work with a sole source (see Insert). In 1997, for example, the US airline company Delta did not hesitate to sign an exclusive contract with Boeing for the purchase of 644 planes over the next twenty years. The European purchasing manager for Case, a US manufacturer of farming equipment and of roadconstruction material, indicated in 1998 that a sole source was used for the strategic components needing heavy investment costs. The selected supplier benefits from an exclusive contract over a few years, sometimes even over the product's entire lifetime.

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Supplier's share. When companies use various sources, most of the time they have one leading supplier covering over 50 per cent of the needs of a given product family. Very frequently a supplier will meet 100 per cent of the needs of a subgroup of items, and the needs of the remaining items are fulfilled by another one.

Characteristics of selected suppliers. Through such a choice, a company tries to achieve a few objectives that are not always compatible: to control its relationship with the supplier, to optimize the use of the resources and competencies of this supplier, and to keep a competitor from developing a relationship with the best suppliers. In order to select its suppliers, a company uses, among others, the following criteria: size, business, and reputation, as well as expertise. They will condition the type of relationship to be established between a customer and its suppliers. What type of business is the supplier in? Should the company choose a specialist in a given product or a supplier offering a wide and varied product mix? The importance of a supplier's reputation and expertise will depend on the items purchased and their impact on the company business. In the aerospace industry, for example, a supplier has a greater chance of being selected if he has experience in high tech. and aerospace, and if he has previously worked with this customer.

Nature of customer-supplier relationships. The complexity of the supply market and the impact of each item on the business will influence the way a customer manages his relationships with the selected suppliers. If the supply market is not very complex and the impact of the product is low (non-critical items), a customer may adopt an opportunistic approach focused on competition. When the complexity of the supply market increases and the impact of the product on the business is high (strategic items), a customer may choose a partnership approach with his suppliers. Purchasing departments are, however, able to manage only a limited number of target suppliers with this approach. A decrease in the number of suppliers used by the purchasing department can, therefore, be interpreted as a willingness to give them a greater volume of business, allowing a stronger collaboration to develop.

5.4 Organizing the buying activities

The organization of buying activities can support the purchasing strategy. Two elements are interesting to mention from the point of view of the resulting actions: the degree of centralization of the buying activities, and the missions and status of the buying function.

Degree of centralization of the buying activities. Industrial concerns often present a high level of organizational complexity, and the decision to buy a given item can take place at different levels within the buying organization: at the group, branch, company, or manufacturing-plant level. The geographic dimension must also be added to these four levels: international, national, regional, or local level. In every case, companies seek to locate the decision-making at the most effective level, in other words at a given hierarchical and geographical level. This choice is based on the following factors:

usage characteristics of the items: will these items be used in one or more countries, plants, companies, branches?

geographic characteristics of the supply market: local, regional, national, or international;

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importance of the items in the company business: in some companies, the higher the financial investment, the higher in the hierarchy will the decision be made.

Missions and status of the buying function. These vary considerably from one company to the next. In most industrial groups, the purchasing function has a very important role. Its missions are external and internal. It manages external resources. The purchasing department defines the panel of selected suppliers, keeps it current, and monitors their performance. It manages the relationships with the suppliers and helps them when they need to improve their quality and reduce their costs. The buying department also conducts the commercial negotiations. In certain industries, the purchasing department is involved in restructuring the suppliers' industries with the objective of achieving the most competitive service level and costs internationally.

Internally, the purchasing department helps the technical departments by informing them as soon as possible about the know-how of the selected suppliers, allowing the technical departments to standardize as much as possible the parti and components to be purchased. It is also in volved in the meetings dealing with product creation and evolution matters and with pricing quality, and reliability decisions. In the case of a project-type situation involving suppliers, the role of the purchasing function is more complex. Mul tiple contacts take place between the supplier; and the project team of the customer, increasing the risk of incoherences and confusion. The pur chasing department's role is, therefore, to synthe size the information, and it must look for information whenever something happens.

5.5 Procedures established to work with suppliers

The company will adapt its procedures to the type of items purchased and these procedures will exert an influence on the relationships with sup pliers. These procedures can encompass numer ous dimensions:

ISO standardization; quality insurance;

need to work with a given CAD/CAM software, as far as the technical dimension is concerned;

JIT as far as the logistic dimension is concerned

terms of payment as far as the financial dimension is concerned;

types of contracts as far as the legal dimension is concerned;

EDI as far as the information flow is concerned;

systematic bidding process.

These procedures can either be specific to a com pany or common to an entire industry.

Box 7.5 Alpha

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Alpha, a subsidiary of a large industrial group, purchases a special plastic film and integrates it in practically all of its products. This film represents an average 30 per cent of the cost of the finished products manufactured. Four suppliers make up the worldwide supply market:

Filmus and Plastus are American companies and their market share is repectively 50 and 30 per cent;

Japafilm is a Japanese company and has a 10 per cent market share;

Filmeuro is a European company and has a 5 per cent market share.

Alpha is a major player in this film market and buys about 20 per cent of the worldwide production. Given its needs, Alpha buys only from the two American suppliers, considering Japafilm and Filmeuro to be too small. Various factors are nevertheless challenged by Alpha's central purchasing department regarding the selection of Filmus and Plastus as suppliers:

Filmus and Plastus manufacturing plants are located in the USA; only a limited technical team is based in Europe;

the extent of these supplier's collaboration with Alpha is correct but no more;

the supply market being rather concentrated, Alpha is quite dependent on these two American suppliers.

To reiterate, the plastic film can be considered a strategic item; it greatly impacts on Alpha's business, and the supply market is complex given its degree of concentration.

Once it had been recognized that the plastic film was a strategic item, various manœuvres were attempted in order to modify Alpha's position vis-à-vis the supply market:

Alpha tried to develop a partnership—in other words, to become a key account of either Filmus or Plastus because of the potential represented by Alpha. This approachh failed. These US suppliers did not want to favour Alpha, in order to avoid similar requests from their other major customers. The approach chosen by Alpha was to develop a tight collaboration through the development of the customer-supplier relationship.

Alpha then tried to find European suppliers capable of developing their ability to supply this plastic film, given the potential represented by Alpha. Filmeuro had no interest in further increasing the supply of this product, since it felt its relative size3 was too small as compared to Filmus and Plastus. Alpha also contacted other companies, but they declined, because they had not mastered the necessary know-how and wanted to avoid impact on other4 markets. This manœuvre was meant by Alpha to attempt to decrease the complexity of the supply market and change the balance of power through the entry of additional suppliers.

As a result, Alpha decided to study its ability to manufacture the film itself. The studie3s took nearly ten years and enabled Alpha to cover a quarter of its needs, while acquiring an extensive know-hoe.

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Faced with Alpha's production-capacity development the US suppliers (one of them has, in the mean-time, started its own production plant in Europe) changed their attitude towards Alpha and become more open to a potential collaboration. One of the reasons motivating their interest in a collaboration with Alpha was the opportunity to have access to the know-how developed by the latter through its applications.

A tougher game of musical chairs

Finding themselves in a more competitive environment, utilities are acutely concerned about containing or even reducing costs. Some are looking for savings through sole-source purchasing. Administrative costs are reduced by dealing with only one supplier, and the higher volume of business given to a single suppler leverages lower prices.

’The situation can be likened to a game of musical chairs. The way the game used to be played, a larger number of utilities spread their business among a larger number of suppliers with smaller purchases and annual contracts. Suppliers that lost one customer could generally expect to gain another. “When the music stopped there were always chairs to be grabbed,” says a utility's purchasing manager. “Now there aren't as many chairs and they don't play the music as often because they're going to three to five years. And the contracts are getting huge, making the available chairs harder to fill.”’

Source: Interchange (June 1998)

6 The future

To answer the question as to how organizational buying behaviour will evolve in the twenty-firs century, it is necessary to make some assessmen about the evolution of a number of activities. Twoof these are the information technologies and the production technologies. For example, it is being predicted that soon much more commercial activ ity will be conducted by electronic exchanges in i relatively impersonal manner. What effect wil this have on the challenges that new supplier; already face as they seek to win business? It is not obvious how companies will in future be able to buy online from suppliers with whom they currently have no contact. As has been commented, ‘Trust does not reside in integrated circuits or fiber optic cables. Although it involves an interchange of information, trust is not reducible to information’ (Fukuyama 1995: 25), and so how will the confidence necessary for exchanges to occur be created?

The issue of production technologies is important, because developments since the mid-1980s show that the size of the minimum economic batch size is falling very rapidly, which amongst other things makes further moves towards segmentation of existing markets an economic possibility. In addition, the size of production units is also decreasing in many industries, so that small local manufacture becomes a possibility once again. Given the rising costs of congestion in many countries, this may lead to a swing back from the large centralized production facilities of the 1960–80 period and open up the possibilities of an increase in competition, perhaps resulting in a strengthening of the purchasing organization's negotiating position.

7 Summary

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THE organizational buying process is very complex. This complexity stems from the very large number of factors internal to the organization and related to the market affecting the buying decision.

Given this complexity and the major changes constantly affecting industrial markets, understanding organizational buying behaviour is not easy. This understanding is, however, a key element in an organization's ability to compete, since it is one of the pillars of the development of a marketing strategy. This is why organizational buying behaviour is a source of interest both in the business and in the academic world.

Further reading

Corey, E. R. (1978), The Organizational Context of Industrial Buyer Behavior (Cambridge, Mass.: Marketing Science Institute).

Ford, D. (1997) (ed.), Understanding Business Markets (2nd edn., London: Dryden Press).

Johnston, W. J., and Lewin, J. E. (1996), ‘Organizational Buying Behavior: Toward an Integrative Framework’, journal of Business Research, 35:1–15.

Monka, R. M., and Trent, R. J. (1995), Purchasing and Source Strategy: Trends and Implications (Tempe, Ariz.: Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies).

Discussion questions 1. Is it a fair criticism that a weakness of model of organizational buying behaviour is its

failure to suggest criteria by which the identity of those individuals who exercise buying influence can be established?

2. Consider two firms, one of which sells a frequently purchased component and the other an item that is infrequently purchased. What are the challenges each faces with regard to identifying and keeping in contact with members of its customers' buying groups?

3. Can a supplier really understand the risks that a customer perceives as being associated with purchasing its product?

4. If the nature of a product is that its customers purchase it infrequently, is it more appropriate to regard each purchase as ‘new task’, even in those cases where the customer has purchased that item in the past?

5. Many suppliers develop new products in association with customers. This usually means that they work closely with the customer's technical staff. As the product develops, should they ensure that they have contact with other sections in the customer's organization?

Mini Case: Internet Supplies Ltd.

Having worked in the IT Department of a large organization for many years, Fred is well aware of the difficulty in maintaining an organization's hardware and software standards. The problem

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is that individual departments can easily order many items of equipment or software without the involvement of either the Purchasing or the IT Department. They can do this, because such items are often relatively inexpensive and can therefore be bought using the department's discretionary budget. Indeed, in some cases these purchases actually do not need to involve the IT Department, as the item purchased would only be used within the department making the purchase. However, there are many occasions when the item purchased needs to match the standards of the existing systems (for example, the company's network), and it is therefore important to ensure that it is compatible with the company's standards.

In addition to the difficulty mentioned above of controlling many of these purchases because they are so inexpensive, there are additional difficulties in imposing company standards in this area of activity. Most departments still seem to have at least one member of staff who considers himself an ‘expert’ at computing, and frequently, as is so often the case with such people, he creates an ‘ideal’ solution for his own situation which is unfortunately incompatible with the company's standards. Such ‘experts’ then take delight in criticizing the IT Department for, in their view, its inappropriate standards—ignoring the fact that IT has to deal with company-wide issues and that sometimes it has to make trade-offs between the economies achievable by working to a common standard and providing people with exactly what they require.

Fred is considering setting up in business as an Internetbased product distributor of computer hardware and software. He recognizes that competition in this field is already quite intense, but he plans to guarantee a twentyfour-hour delivery of any item from a catalogue that he believes is as extensive as any currently available on the Internet. Moreover, he is formulating the idea of providing an ordering system based on passwords that will mean that customers can only purchase items that are on their own company's list of approved items. There seem to Fred to be two approaches to creating such a system. The first would be to let potential purchasers only see those items in the catalogue that their company had approved for purchase. The other would be to let the potential purchasers see the whole catalogue but to inform them which items are approved by their company.

His initial discussions with the IT and Purchasing Departments of a number of companies have been encouraging. It seems that IT Departments would support any procedure that would enable them to impose their standards throughout their company. The interest of the Purchasing Departments was mainly in the possibility of achieving increased volume discounts, which Fred said he would base on the totals of all items that he could identify as being purchased from a company's approved list.

Discussion question

What advice would you give to Fred?

Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries

Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York

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© Oxford University Press 2000

Box 7.1 Stages of organizational-buying-behaviour models: AcomparisonOriginal models Supplier choice model Matbuy model(1960s-1970s) (1987) (1986)Need recognition -- Purchase ini-- tiationSpecifications RFQ preparation Evaluations criteria formationSupplier's Potential suppliers's Information search-- Evaluation and selection Supplier of approved vendors for definition bidding product for RFQPropsals Analysis of received Evalution ofevaluation quotes quotations-- -- NegotiationsSupplier selection Evaluation and selection Supplier choice of supplier(s)-- -- Choice imple-- mentationA detailed model of organizational buying behaviourPurchase stage Type of decision Departments Problelm involved faced and tasks in-- volvedPurchase inti-- Whether or not a Any depart How to orga--ation purchase is needed --ment in the nize for un-- to solve problem organization planned act-- may identify ion a need for purchaseDetermination Choosing and wei Production; How to int--of evaluation --ghting the Buying; grate thecriteria choice criteria Finance; R&D criteria cho and setting th-- --sen and reshold values resolve po-- values for each tential co-- nflicts bet --ween cri-- teriaInformation What source of Buying; Pro-- How to org--search information to duction; R&D; anize the use and when to Finance evalution terminate the of informa-- search for more tionSupplier How many potential Buying; Pro-- How to org--definition suppliers to inv-- duction; R&D; anize thefor RFQ ite to quote Finance selection of suppliers from those submitting quotesEvaluation Check quotations Buying; Pro-- Evaluating

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of quotations against specifi-- duction; R&D; whether the catioin and choose Finance choice cri-- supplier(s) with teria are whom to open ne-- adequate gotationsNegotiations Negotiation pro-- Buying How to or-- cedures and strat-- ganize the egy. Who should negotiations be involved and conflict resolution proceduresSupplier Select supplier(s) Buying; Pro-- How to org--choice and determine qua-- duction; and anize the ntity to be purch-- Finance application ased from each of selection

supplier rulesChoice Inform those supp-- Buying Organize theimplementation liers not accepted monitoring of the del-- ivery of the product


By Bernard Cova and Robert Salle

Edited by Keith Blois

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