Setting up an international purchasing office (IPO) is one of the key steps for firms doing global sourcing. This paper aims to explore the relationship between strategy and structure in a contemporary global purchasing context. We build a theory of IPOs, employing a case study method to address two research questions - what types of IPOs exist in China? And how may an IPO become strategic to its parent's global purchasing? We identify three types or clusters of IPOs along four dimensions: motives for sourcing from China; global purchasing strategy for China; IPO structure and IPO followership. We present a causal model and associated propositions to explain how an IPO may become more strategic for its parent company. In the model we identify that, in addition to the direct link of 'structure follows strategy', IPO followership can be an underlying construct, linking IPO structure and global purchasing strategy for China. The paper opens up new avenues for global sourcing research and provides new insights for managers on global purchasing strategy, specifically with respect to IPO organisational design and capabilities.
- Case study
- Global sourcing
- International purchasing office
- Organisational design