Supplier involvement in product development is widely regarded as an essential strategy, benefiting product development tinle, costs, and product quality. However, this strategy also increases the dependencies between the buyer and the involved supplier and has therefore implications for coordinating supplier involvement. The aim of this thesis is to examine intra- and interorganisational aspects of supplier involvement in product development projects and, based on a contingency perspective, to develop a conceptual framework for understanding coordination of supplier involvement in and throughout product development projects.
The need for coordination of dependencies is reinforced by the existence of diverging expectations. This concerns different perspectives on i.e. project management, technical solutions, and product functionalities. Organisational coordination structures facilitate coordination of dependencies and diverging expectations. A contingency approach suggests that a range of coordination structures is necessary for addressing different situations of dependence and diverging perspectives.
The issues of intraorganisational coordination, interorganisational coordination, and coordination throughout the development project are investigated based on a multiple case study consisting of a study of six product development projects at the packaging company Tetra Brik, and seven mini-cases at Swedish and Dutch companies operating in different industries. The case companies develop relatively complex products, that are produced in rather low to medium volumes. Furthermore, systems integration is an important aspect in product development.
An important aspect of intraorganisational coordination concerns the interface between the purchasing and the engineering department. Several purchasing involvement configurations are identified. These include purchasing coordinators and the degree of involvement of purchasing specialists in the development project.
Three main approaches are identified for the interorganisational coordination of supplier involvement in product development projects. An iutegrative approach, project integration coordination, has the highest potential to address a high need for coordination. Disconnected sub-project coordination disconnects the supplier task from the overall project and is therefore able to coordinate a lower degree of dependence. Ad hoc coordination is an informal coordination structure for incidental coordination of supplier involvement in the development project.
The investigation of supplier involvement throughout the project focuses attention on two issues. First, an integrated approach can precede and facilitate a disconnected approach to coordination in the project. Second, project integrated coordination is sometinles accompanied by some elements of disconnected sub-project coordination.
Intra- and interorganisational coordination have some cost implications. These costs tmderlie the necessity for a contingency approach to coordination. As the task characteristics, degree of supplier involvement, and moment of supplier involvement are important in determining the degree of dependence in the project, supplier coordination must be determined from situation to situation, based on the need for coordination.
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2001. , 256 p.
2001-11-23, Sal C3, Hus C, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)