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Supplier base management : the contrast between Germany and the UK

Lemke, Fred and Goffin, Keith and Szwejczewski, Marek and New, Colin and Pfeiffer, Rolf and Lohmüller, Bertram (2000) Supplier base management : the contrast between Germany and the UK. Working paper. Cranfield University - School of Management, Cranfield.

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Abstract

Supplier base management is an important aspect of the management of manufacturing operations, as reducing the number of suppliers – the supplier base – is a key approach in many companies including the US and the UK. By having fewer suppliers, manufacturers have more time to work closely with each remaining supplier, for instance, on improving quality and product innovation. However, is this approach being adopted in Germany as fast as it has been in the UK? This paper describes research which addresses this question and which also investigates how German companies are managing contacts with their suppliers. The study was conducted in two stages. Firstly, a survey of manufacturers in Germany and the UK identified the trends in the supplier base of companies in each country. Secondly, a follow-up telephone survey was carried through with purchasing managers at a random sample of 34 German plants to identify, for example, the advantages experienced by manufacturers, which had reduced their supplier base. The findings show that German manufacturers have not reduced their supplier base by as much as companies in the UK. The second part of the research showed that German manufacturers, which have reduced their supplier base, perceive the benefits of this. However, other companies appear to have failed to take the opportunity to gain advantages from a reduced supplier base.