Johnsen, T., Calvi, R. and Phillips, W.
Discontinuous innovation: A challenge for purchasing.
Under consideration for publication in Journal of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management.
Publisher's URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-purcha...
Purpose of this paper
This paper investigates the question: What are the challenges to the purchasing function when faced with discontinuous innovation? The paper defines discontinuous innovation, differentiating it from other forms of innovation, and discusses the challenges for the purchasing function involved in the discontinuous innovation process.
The paper reviews and analyses the existing literature on purchasing involvement in incremental and discontinuous innovation. Analysing existing research on early supplier - and early purchasing - involvement in new product development and innovation, we develop conceptual frameworks to further the understanding of, and radically rethink, the role of purchasing involvement in innovations of different degrees of change.
The typology highlights some important challenges for the purchasing function when faced with discontinuous rather than the more common incremental innovation challenge. In particular, our analysis of the literature suggests that both Early Supplier involvement (ESI) and Early Purchasing Involvement (EPI) practices need to be reconsidered when applied to discontinuous innovation.
The paper is conceptual so does not rely on an empirical study conducted for the purpose of addressing our specific research question. Nevertheless, on the basis of analysis of the existing literature we suggest discontinuous innovation calls for a fundamental rethink of established ESI and EPI practices.
Practical implications (if applicable)
Purchasing functions are advised to widen their search and selection environments for completely new technologies, scanning outside existing supply relationships and supply chains. Purchasing should be involved particularly early in the sourcing process, before any specific project has even been formally started. Short-term supplier relationships or dalliances should be developed. Ask new suppliers for solutions instead of informing suppliers of well-defined specifications.
What is original/value of paper
The paper examines a well-established field (ESI) and an emerging related field (EPI). Focusing on the challenges of discontinuous innovation, we suggest that both ESI and EPI practices need to be fundamentally reconsidered when applied to discontinuous innovation.
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