Purpose: The paper examines the moderating role of a purchasing function's absorptive capacity (AC) on the relationship between the use of electronic purchasing tools and category level purchasing performance. The authors argue that an e-purchasing tool may not in itself positively influence performance unless combined with AC as a human interface to maximise its information and transactional improvement potential. Design/methodology/approach: Survey data collected from 297 procurement executives of large companies in ten countries are analysed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and hierarchical moderated regression. Findings: The results demonstrate few significant direct effects of e-purchasing tools on category performance. All performance measures studied are enhanced when dimensions of AC and their interactions with the e-purchasing tools are added. Specifically, buyer competence, manager competence and communications climate have performance-enhancing effects. In some cases, AC on its own appears to increase performance more than e-tools. Originality/value: This paper is the first to study the moderating effects of AC on the relationship between e-purchasing tool usage and category performance. Its findings support the view that simply implementing technology does not lead to performance improvements, but that a human interface is required to maximise the information and transactional improvement potential of e-purchasing tools.

Absorptive capacity, E-purchasing tools, Purchase category performance
dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-12-2011-0445, hdl.handle.net/1765/76419
ERIM Top-Core Articles
International Journal of Operations and Production Management
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Kauppi, K, Brandon-Jones, A, Ronchi, S, & van Raaij, E.M. (2013). Tools without skills: Exploring the moderating effect of absorptive capacity on the relationship between e-purchasing tools and category performance. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 33(7), 828–857. doi:10.1108/IJOPM-12-2011-0445