In pursuit of value: The objective of a purchase as guide for a relationship

Kirstin Scholten*, Niels J. Pulles, Luuk Hazeleger, Boris Fenneman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This study investigates how buying firms differentiate their relationship practices based on the objective of a purchase. Although previous research shows that purchasing objectives strongly influence how buyers organize their relationships, it remains unclear how so-called tactical sourcing levers are used to support an objective. We draw on a mixed-method case study design consisting of a scenario-based survey study and semi-structured interviews. Our quantitative findings show that while transactional levers are commonly applied across purchasing objectives, they are not necessarily the most important for the different objectives. In fact, our qualitative findings reveal that sourcing levers are not either transactional or relational, but exist on a continuum where each lever can be used in different ways depending on the objective of the purchase. As such, our study provides a novel view on more traditional purchasing classifications such as the one on purchasing levers. Consequently, our findings suggest that existing purchasing tools need to be revised in line with today's value creation approach of purchasing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-480
Number of pages14
JournalIndustrial marketing management
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Mixed-methods
  • Objective
  • Relationship practices
  • Tactical sourcing lever


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