Development of Purchasing Groups during Their Life Cycle: From Infancy to Maturity


Fredo Schotanus is a part-time assistant professor of purchasing management and management science at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. In addition to his academic activities, he works as a consultant at Signifi cant. He has published a book and several articles and book chapters on subjects in purchasing management. His research interests include public management, group purchasing, purchasing and supply management, allocation problems, and supplier selection.

Elmer Bakker is a procurement development manager with Improvement and Effi ciency South East in the United Kingdom. In a previous role, he was a research offi cer at the Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply, University of Bath School of Management. His research interests include public procurement, procurement strategy, collaboration, supplier relationship management and the professionalization of the purchasing and supply profession in general.

Helen Walker is an associate professor in purchasing and supply management at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Her research interests include investigating sustainable procurement in the public and private sectors. She is also a visiting professor in the W. P. Carey Business School at Arizona State University.

Michael Essig is a professor in materials management and distribution at Bundeswehr University Munich in Germany and codirects the Research Center for Law and Management of Public Procurement as well as the Transfer Center for Defense Supply Chain Management. His research interests include strategic procurement, public procurement, and supply chain management. He teaches in several international supply management programs, including the University of San Diego, the University of St. Gallen, and the University of Grenoble.


Increasingly, public sector organizations collaborate to buy products and services. They collectively form purchasing groups to deliver more value for money. What is the progress of these small-scale developments of public sector purchasing groups to date, in the early phases of their life cycle? Although previous research provides general descriptions of life-cycle phases, little attention has been paid to detailed small-scale developments that take place within each life-cycle phase. As a result, little knowledge is available about small-scale developments of purchasing groups. More insight is important in order to better understand how purchasing groups can develop over time from one life-cycle phase into another. Three in-depth case studies from different countries offer a unique comparative overview of small-scale developments in these early life-cycle phases for their five dimensions. Most small-scale problems follow a predictable path, but the way in which the purchasing groups deal with such problems differs depending on the specific situation of the group.