Differentiating between direct and indirect procurement: roles, skills, and Industry 4.0

Vincent Delke*, Holger Schiele, Wolfgang Buchholz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


The distinction between direct and indirect material procurement is widely understood in practice but only faintly described in research. To manage both, specific purchasing strategies, processes, tools, and skills are needed. With the increasing attention to purchasing competencies and the influence of digitalisation within the purchasing field, this research sheds light on the management of both commodity types, focusing on the difference in skills needed. This research takes an explorative approach by using a world café study with 81 procurement professionals to assess future purchasing skills. Results show that the responsibility for innovation buying is expected to increase for direct purchasers, a wave of internationalisation and the associated need for cultural, communication and flexibility and agility skills is expected for indirect purchasers. This research contributes by structuring previously unstructured phenomena within the human-centric profession by addressing specific purchasing roles and changing skill requirements within the field’s current digital transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalInternational journal of procurement management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Direct and indirect spend
  • Indirect and direct material
  • Indirect expenditure
  • Indirect procurement
  • Indirect purchasing
  • Industry 4.0
  • Non-production-related costs
  • Professional roles
  • Purchasing and supply management
  • Skills

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