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Journal Articles International Journal of Innovation Management Year : 2018

Shades of the Innovation-Purchasing function – the missing link of Open Innovation


This paper seeks to instigate a new area of research in the EPI (Early Purchasing Involvement) literature around the question: How should a purchasing function evolve in order to identify and capture innovation in the supplier market? Particularly, we attempt to characterize the specificities of the Innovation-Purchasing functions, an emerging function acting in the fuzzy-front-end of projects. The contribution of this paper is a reification of the role of an Innovation-Purchasing function in an Open Innovation context, through the description of Early Purchasing Involvement in the Innovation (EPI 2) agenda. Design/methodology/approach In this empirical paper, the data is collected through an internal benchmarking study within a multinational multidivisional firm evolving in the automotive sector where a Purchasing function dedicated to Innovation is established in its various divisions. It is then analysed using the framework developed by Van Echtelt et al. (2008) to specify which activities are necessary to manage Early Supplier Involvement (ESI). Findings Our study reveals similarities and differences between the observed practices of what we call Early Purchasing Involvement in Innovation (EPI 2) and the more classical EPI activities in an NPD context. Specifically, we observed an enforced strategic role of EPI 2 that influences the innovation process by aligning it to supplier market capabilities and purchasing strategies. Research limitations/implications The research is based on a specific case study in the automotive sector. Further studies could consider some other contexts or test the applicability of the findings to other industries. Practical implications The implications of the purchasing function is an emerging topic of interest in a lot of industries. The insights developed in this paper help such firms recognise the specific issues and contents to support EPI 2 through some organisational decisions. Originality/value As an in-depth study of a single company dealing with an emerging topic, this research responds to calls for studies embedded in reality.
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Dates and versions

hal-01700648 , version 1 (05-02-2018)



Romaric Servajean-Hilst, Richard Calvi. Shades of the Innovation-Purchasing function – the missing link of Open Innovation . International Journal of Innovation Management, 2018, 22 (1), ⟨10.1142/S1363919618500081⟩. ⟨hal-01700648⟩
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