Collaborative New Product Development : Supplier Selection and Purchasing

Abstract: Suppliers provide new technology to firms and are important in firms‟ NPD. It is not sufficient for firms to select the most appropriate technology; they must also select the most appropriate supplier for their NPD. The purpose of this licentiate thesis is to map and identify criteria used in the process of selecting a suitable supplier, and explore the role of Purchasing in NPD collaborative projects.This thesis is based on case study research where two NPD projects have been studied. The case sampling consisted of searching for projects that were believed to be rich in information about the process of supplier selection. Both studied were conducted at ABB, which is a large high-tech system integration firm. ABB was a good firm to study because as a company, it is used to implementing new technology from suppliers. The data collection consisted of interviews, factory visits, internal and external documents. The data gathered was analysed by conducting content analysis and then using categorization to structure it. In addition, within-case analysis as well as cross-case analysis were performed. The research process was inductive and its purpose was formed throughout the on-going studies.This study has identified and categorised criteria for selecting a supplier that is suitable to become involved in NPD projects. Both criteria from existing literature and from the NPD projects studied are mapped into a process model of supplier selection in which they are classified into three categories: product and production factors, firm characteristics and relational criteria. The main findings from this study are criteria that firms use in their assessment and selection of suppliers. These supplier assessment criteria can be divided into basic, product and firm criteria. One difficult element to consider is the uncertainty of an NPD project. The thesis argues that uncertainty can be divided into technological and strategic uncertainty. Additional criteria to consider in supplier selection are divided into technological, business and relational-specific criteria.This study has investigated the role of Purchasing in NPD and argues that Purchasing can be a trouble-shooter. This role can solve problems that emerge in collaborative NPD projects that involve suppliers. The types of problems that a trouble-shooter can solve are concerned with lack of commitment and interest from the supplier or conflicts when the supplier has changed its strategy. To solve these problems, Purchasing does not need to be present during the whole NPD project, but can have the role of a trouble-shooter and become involved in the project when the problems have emerged. By not being a part of the NPD team, Purchasing can evaluate the situation objectively without affecting the personal relationships that exist among the individuals in the NPD.