Sourcing strategising in the new product development process : Insights from the strategy-as-practice lens and engineer-to-order context

Abstract: In many cases, manufacturers have changed from sourcing only a few, simple, and separate components from local suppliers to sourcing a high variety of modules from globally dispersed suppliers. This has resulted in the implementation of a wide variety of sourcing strategies, including, for example, multiple sourcing and supplier integration. All these and other sourcing strategies are aimed at achieving a certain level of supply chain (SC) responsiveness. The level of SC responsiveness ideally matches the characteristics of a product. For example, highly innovative products typically require highly responsive SCs.In order to match products with their SCs, manufacturers are advised to engage in sourcing strategy in their new product development (NPD) process. However, there are at least two knowledge gaps in the literature on this topic: (1) the lack of a widely accepted, comprehensive conceptualisation of how manufacturers can engage in sourcing strategy in NPD, and (2) the lack of empirical insights into manufacturers operating in the engineer-to-order (ETO) context. This dissertation focuses on filling these knowledge gaps.Addressing the first gap, the dissertation uses the theoretical lens of ‘strategy-as-practice’ (SAP) and the literature to conceptualise the ‘doing of sourcing strategy’ in NPD as three interrelated dimensions: (1) practitioners, (2) activities, and (3) practices. Through discussing these dimensions and their potential interplay throughout NPD, the dissertation demonstrates the potential of the SAP lens in providing a common framework and reducing the fragmented nature of the literature. By using the SAP lens, the dissertation also contributes to practice. Despite not being ‘actionable’ in the sense of constituting detailed guidelines for acting, the SAP lens produces insights that can help practitioners to become more reflective. For example, they can learn to see sourcing strategising as a multidimensional, dynamic concept and the place it can occupy in the NPD process.The second knowledge gap in the literature regards the lack of empirical research focusing on the ETO context. Therefore, the dissertation includes a case study focusing on practitioners’ sourcing strategising activities and practices in this context. First, five approaches to performing sourcing strategising activities in NPD are explored in terms of their conditions and intended outcomes. Secondly, four practices that can support sourcing strategising in NPD are identified. These practices – referred to as ‘Design for Supply Chain’ (DFSC) practices – are also examined in terms of their interrelations. Practitioners can use the case study findings to compare the advantages of the five sourcing strategising approaches when sourcing items or services. Furthermore, the findings allow practitioners to assess how the four interrelated DFSC practices can support their sourcing strategising efforts in NPD.