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PARTLY DIGITAL (ONLY FOR INVITEES) : PhD Defence Klaas Stek | Purchasing skills leading to success - How to succeed in innovation sourcing

Purchasing skills leading to success - How to succeed in innovation sourcing

Due to the COVID-19 crisis the PhD defence of Klaas Stek will take place (partly) online.

The PhD defence can be followed by a live stream.

Klaas Stek is a PhD student in the research group Technology Management and Supply (TMS). His supervisor is prof.dr. H. Schiele from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS).

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” George Orwell (1945, p. 51) wrote in Animal Farm. The starting point of Purchasing Skills Leading to Success is that humans or Homo Sapiens are more equal than other creatures. Homo Sapiens became world champions in task specialisation, trade, sales, and purchasing and therefore did survive archaic humans, like the Neanderthals. Homo Sapiens combined creativity with curiosity and social networking skills, which led to continuous development in technology and science, demonstrated in organisations and businesses. Eventually, Homo Sapiens’ way of cooperating ran to increasingly complex supply chains in which purchasers are responsible for a multitude of challenges.

Supply or value chains became complex since make-or-buy decisions in organisations led to more buying activities due to globalisation and global sourcing. In an average industrial company, 60 to 80 per cent of the total value is transferred to suppliers. In the 1960s, this was just 10 to 20 per cent. A challenge for the modern purchaser is to fulfil the ‘bridge-builder’-role to connect the internal organisational partners with possible suppliers in the market. The quest for Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) is to maintain a staff of competent purchasers. Some purchasers do better and are more equal than others. Purchasing Skills Leading to Success focuses on those competences that lead to success in the most strategic PSM activity: innovation sourcing.

Purchasing Skills Leading to Success is dedicated to those competences that are important and necessary, and that will lead to success, whereas previous research wrongly assumed that important competences are de facto necessary and always lead to success. Both competence sets and professional successes levels of purchasers are carefully measured and analysed to determine which competences lead to which successes range from reducing costs to innovation sourcing.

An important finding is that soft skills are necessary conditions to carry out professional hard skills. A successful purchaser for innovations possesses networking skills, complex problem solving, proactivity, result-drive, conflict-resolution, creativity, persuasion, curiosity and an entrepreneurial attitude. These soft skills are necessary to perform well in hard skills such as supplier relationship management and innovation management skills, analytical skills, process and project management skills and personnel leadership skills.

Although purchasers first need these soft skills to carry out hard skills, surprisingly, PSM curricula in academia are exclusively focused on learning hard skills (knowledge, theory and professional and communication skills). In contrast, employers highly appreciate the abovementioned soft skills. Purchasing Skills Leading to Success shows educators and students how soft skills can be trained and assessed, and it gives guidance to employers on which competences are necessary in which case and how to develop individual purchasers successfully.