The Future of Purchasing and Supply Management Research: About Relevance and Rigor


  • Acknowledgments: The authors want to extend their gratitude to Mirjam Kibbeling for her permission to use part of her work for our introductory section and Björn Axelsson, Regien Sumo, Kristine van Tubergen, and Marijn van Weele for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.


The Journal of Supply Chain Management (JSCM) is a hallmark in the academic field of operations and supply chain management. During the past 50 years, it has contributed substantially to the recognition and adoption of purchasing and supply management (PSM) as an academic and strategic business domain. Having been invited by the JSCM editors to provide some ideas on the future directions of PSM research, the authors discuss what can be done to further increase both its relevance and rigor. Rigor and relevance in academic research are interconnected. To improve its relevance, the authors argue that future PSM research should better reflect the strategic priorities raised in the contemporary strategic management literature. Next, future PSM research should be much better embedded in a limited number of management theories. Here, stakeholder theory, network theory, the resource-based view of the firm, dynamic capabilities theory, and the relational view could be considered as interesting candidates. Rigor is connected with robustness of academic research designs and projects. To foster its rigor, future PSM research should allow for an increase in the number of replication studies, longitudinal studies, and meta-analytical studies. Future PSM research designs should reflect a careful distinction between informants and respondents and a careful sample selection. When discussing the results of quantitative studies, future PSM research should report on effect sizes and confidence intervals, rather than p-values. Adoption of these ideas would have some important implications for both the academic PSM community and academic journal editors.