The Supplier Selection Process in the Swedish Pulp Industry: A Contingency Perspective

University essay from Luleå/Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences

Abstract: This thesis aims to study the supplier selection process through a theoretical lens grounded in contingency theory. The increasing importance of supplier selection as a tool for developing competitive advantages motivated the subject for this study. Contingency factors influence on the supplier selection process was studied through a quantitative survey. The Swedish pulp industry, involving sixteen organizations, constituted the object of study. In order to facilitate the empirical research, a theoretical framework based on the supplier selection process and contingency factors was developed. Previous research and practical studies provided inspiration for the identification of the three contingency categories (buying-specific, organizational and inter-organizational). Using this theoretical framework in a deductive manner, it was found that the general trend for the industry is to reduce the supplier base and utilize package-deals. Furthermore, the most important selection criteria were found to be delivery,quality and reliability. This study also confirms the importance of relationships between the supplier and the purchasing organization, where suppliers in more transactional relationships are more likely to be replaced. The majority of the correlations confirm or partly confirm findings in previous research concerning other industries.