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Suppliers' contributions to product development: an exploratory study

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4 Author(s)
J. L. Hartley ; Dept. of Manage., Bowling Green State Univ., OH, USA ; J. R. Meredith ; D. McCutcheon ; E. R. Kamath

Many managers are trying to leverage the skills and resources of key component suppliers to develop high-quality new products faster and at a lower cost. In this exploratory study, we surveyed product-development engineers in 79 small- to medium-sized firms to determine if three techniques commonly used to integrate suppliers into product development increase the supplier's perceived contributions to product development in the eyes of its customer. The techniques studied are: (1) timing of a supplier's involvement; (2) supplier's design responsibility; and (3) communication frequency. Of these, only early supplier involvement was significantly related to the perception of an increased contribution by the supplier. In addition, we found that the supplier's contributions to product development had little practical influence on the overall project technical success. The findings suggest that more research is needed to understand how to use suppliers effectively to improve product-development outcomes

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 3 )