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Review Article

EJMS. 2015; 20(1): 19-41

Dealing with the non-accomplishments of functional specifications in the context of buyer-supplier relationships: a case study in the automotive industry

João Mota, Maximilian Christl, Luis M. de Castro.


The access to technological resources and capabilities by a company may involve the establishment and development of business relationships with specific suppliers. These relationships may reflect both general, prescribed or formal, purchasing orientations (i.e. adversarial vs cooperative approaches) and more specific evaluation criteria of suppliers. This paper aims to analyze the relevance of inconsistencies between the two levels for the emergence and search for solutions to failures in the accomplishment of functional specifications in the stage of the series production, i.e. when both parties are interdependent. The starting point for the empirical study was non-accomplishments of functional specifications involving an auto manufacturer and some of its suppliers, followed by an exposition of the searching processes for solutions, often by trial and error, involving several departments and firms. The results of the study suggests that these processes may reflect the tensions between transactional and cooperative orientations regarding business relationships with suppliers, a fragmented view of NPD and series production activities and targets, and the lack of integration of the criteria used for the evaluation of suppliers within the customer company. In face of inconsistencies between the formal purchasing orientation and the specific frameworks used to evaluate suppliers during series production, local solutions may emerge at operational level, which may be contrasted with existing formal orientations.

Key words: business relationships, supplier evaluation, functional specifications

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