Matching tactical sourcing levers with the Kraljič matrix: Empirical evidence on purchasing portfolios

Frank Hesping, Holger Schiele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


Purchasing portfolio models, above all the Kraljič matrix, are widely adopted to recommend generic strategies and tactics for different categories of purchases. However, little has been done to empirically validate if conceptual and normative recommendations hold true. Does the application of tactical sourcing levers vary according to ‘strategic importance’ and ‘supply risk’ and, if so, how? To answer this question, data from a survey has been used to classify 107 sourcing projects of direct products into the non-critical, leverage, bottleneck and strategic quadrants of the Kraljič matrix and to compare and contrast the profile of applied tactical sourcing levers in each quadrant. As a major contribution, this study draws on the knowledge of ‘front-line’ purchasing agents to show that, in practice, the full range of tactical sourcing levers is used in each of the four quadrants of the Kraljič matrix. Based on the study's findings, we advocate moving away from a strict adherence to a limited number of recommended tactics in each quadrant of the Kraljič matrix. Purchasers in practice use a mix of all tactical sourcing levers in all portfolio quadrants. Rather than being viewed as alternatives, tactical sourcing levers are used in an additive way in practice. The Kraljič matrix may more usefully be conceptualized as a medium for debate and dialogue rather than providing mutually exclusive prescriptions to choosing the right tactical approaches
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-117
JournalInternational journal of production economics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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