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European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management Vol 2, No 1, pp.

39-45, 1996
Copyright 19% Elsevier Science Ltd
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
0969-7012/96 $15.00 + 0.00

Pergamon

0969-7012(95)00015-1

Just-in-Time purchasing and the


partnership strategy
Ren

G linas and R al Jacob

D~partement d'administration et d'~conomique, Universit~ du Quebec d Trois-Rivi~res, CP 500 TroisRivi~res, Quebec, Canada G9A 5H7

Jocclyn Drolet
D~partement d'ing~nierie, Universit~ du Quebec d Trois-Rivi~res, CP 500 Trois-Rivi~res, Quebec,
Canada G9A 5H7

The objective of this paper is to present the recognized facts about JIT purchasing benefits,
buyers' expectations concerning JIT purchasing, and JIT purchasing success factors. The
identification of these facts is based on the convergence of results found in reviewed publications between 1988 and 1993. After identification of the JIT purchasing related facts,
partnership strategy is discussed and its suitability for JIT purchasing is demonstrated. The
similarities between the favourable situations for partnership and the facts about JIT purchasing are also pointed out.
Keywords: purchasing, Just-in-Time, partnership

Large manufacturing companies (LMCs) manage and


deal with impressive and complicated networks of
suppliers. Black & Decker Manufacturing Company,
Exxon Corporation, General Motors Company,
General
Electric
Company,
Hewlett-Packard
Company and Xerox Corporation are examples of
LMCs that, on a daily basis, conduct direct and indirect
transactions with several thousands of first- and
second-rank suppliers. Moreover, these LMCs are all
engaged in Just-in-Time (JIT)~ programmes (Brown
and Mitchell, 1991). Overall, the main reason why such
LMCs are increasingly interested in implementing JIT
is that they believe it to be a powerful tool for regaining or maintaining their competitive position
(Crawford et al, 1988; Delmas and Roy, 1988; Mehra
and Inman, 1992). Furthermore, many studies indicate
that the purchasing function is of paramount importance for successful JIT implementation (Malley and
Ray, 1988; Manoocheri, 1988; Presutti, 1988; O'Neal,
1989; Dion et al, 1990, 1992; Etkin et al, 1990;
Giupinero and Law, 1990; Willis and Huston, 1990;
Stamm and Golhar, 1991; Weber et al, 1991; Mehra and
IThe JIT manufacturing system was first developed by Toyota Motor
Corporation (Monden, 1991). It reached North America and other
eastern countries in the 1980s (Schonberger, 1982), and since then a
constantly increasing number of LMCs (and their suppliers) are
adopting JIT principles.

Inman, 1992; Landry and Trudel, 1993; St-John and


Heriot, 1993). Considering the fact that the number of
LMCs interested in JIT is constantly increasing, and
recognizing the role of the purchasing function within
a JIT environment, it is clear that JIT practices will
affect a large proportion of manufacturing companies
that supply LMCs.
The purpose of this paper is to assess the significance
of JIT for the purchasing/supplying process. Many
articles have already been published discussing the
various advantages of JIT, supplier evaluation in a JIT
system, JIT implementation conditions, the success
factors for JIT, and the vendor-supplier linkage within
JIT practices. However, to our knowledge no paper
has proposed a global perspective on the JIT purchasing process. In the following sections, we present and
summarize purchasing-related facts concerning the
benefits of JIT, the buyers' expectations and the
success factors for JIT purchasing. These facts are not
the object of an empirical investigation within this
paper; as JIT has been studied for more than 20 years,
we shall rely on published results reported in studies
on JIT purchasing over the period 1988-1993. The
criterion used to postulate that a benefit of J1T, a
buyer expectation, or a success factor is actually a fact
in JIT purchasing is the convergence of the assessments
and findings in reviewed publications presenting
39

Ren~ G~linas et al

conceptual analysis and empirical studies. In doing so,


the intent is to provide the reader (academic or professional) with a reliable view of JIT purchasing that is
based on both conceptual thought and empirical
validation.
After the presentation of the JIT purchasing-related
facts, a global framework is discussed. This framework
- the partnership - is seen by many as a catalyst for
the success of JIT (O'Neal, 1989; Fenneteau, 1990;
Giupinero, 1990; Willis and Huston, 1990; Golhar and
Stamm, 1991; Hong and Hayya, 1992). But even
though partnership (or collaboration or cooperation)
has been widely suggested as a framework for JIT
vendor-buyer relationships, the favourable conditions
for its implementation remain somewhat neglected.
We shall thus address this issue by first identifying
various important conditions for partnerships, and
second by highlighting the similarities between these
conditions and JIT success factors.

Benefits of JIT purchasing


Among the most frequently mentioned benefits are the
reduction in lead times, the decrease in inventory
levels, waste elimination, and improved quality of
incoming parts, raw materials and the delivery process
(see eg Crawford et al, 1988; Malley and Ray, 1988;
Manoocheri, 1988; Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Dion et
al, 1990, 1992; Golhar et al, 1990; Inman and Mehra,
1990; Willis and Huston, 1990; Stamm and Golhar,
1991; Anvari, 1992). In fact, these four benefits have
been so widely cited in analytical studies, and crossvalidated in empirical studies, that we believe that they
may no longer belong to the domain of hypothetical
benefits but must be taken as factual benefits.
As corollaries of these three benefits, other elements
must also be recognized (which are also required
success criteria as well as benefits and outcomes). First,
owing to the lead-time reduction, the delivery
frequency can be increased and the order sizes can be
reduced (Golhar et al, 1990; Inman and Mehra, 1990;
Stamm and Golhar, 1991). Second, a direct effect of
the reduction in inventory levels has been the reduction in storage space requirements (Crawford et al,
1988; Malley and Ray, 1988; Manoocheri, 1988; Inman
and Mehra, 1990) and the reduction in inventory
holding costs (Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Dion et al,
1990, 1992). This generates an upward shift in the
amount of information shared with suppliers, as lower
inventories, combined with more frequent deliveries
and lower lot sizes, force the buyer to provide suppliers with a more detailed (and accurate) production
schedule and operation-related information to
maintain a high level of lead-time reliability.
Third, quality improvements of incoming parts, raw
materials and delivery processes are likely to lead to a
reduction in the number of suppliers. This may be
explained by a reduction in the risk associated with
40

lower levels of quality. For an average quality level, a


multi-supplier strategy may insure the purchasing
process; but as soon as a supplier becomes able to
deliver the needed quantities on time and with a high
quality level, a rational buyer will feel more confident
in cutting the supplier base and will find it easier and
cheaper to manage. Furthermore, lowering the number
of suppliers will cause an increase in the product
volume for the remaining suppliers and will enable the
buyer to concentrate on added-value activities with his
suppliers rather than coordinating them (Dion et al,
1992; Hong and Hayya, 1992).
Another benefit of JIT purchasing that is frequently
mentioned is the improvement in the relationship with
the suppliers. However, it is not clear, at least from our
point of view, whether this is a benefit of JIT or a
prerequisite for the success of JIT purchasing.
Common sense would suggest that a good strategy
would be to improve, proactively, the interactions with
the potential JIT suppliers instead of forcing JIT into
the suppliers' organizational culture and hoping for the
best. It must be understood that the idea of improving
relationships with eventual JIT suppliers is to bring
them to a point where they feel that it is worthwhile
to improve their overall performance (better services,
more flexibility and lower prices). As a better performance from the suppliers will necessitate some efforts
on their part, the buying firm must commit itself:
generally by granting long-term agreements, technical
assistance, and sometimes even financial backing.

The expectations of the buying firm in JIT


purchasing
There appears to be a consensus about the expectations (or objectives) of a company intending to engage
in JIT or already operating in JIT: the elimination of
waste at all levels. Several studies have mentioned this
directly (Manoocheri, 1988; Arnold and Bernard, 1989;
O'Neal, 1989; Wilkinson and Oliver, 1989; Willis and
Huston, 1990; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Stamm and
Golhar, 1991; Landry and Trudel, 1993), while numerous papers dealing with JIT issues (regarding purchasing or not) express it in terms of improving efficiency,
increasing the competitiveness level, eliminating non
added-value activities or bringing the company to a
world-class level.
With respect to the expectations of the buying firm
in JIT purchasing, we believe that the elimination of
waste at all levels is no longer an hypothesis to be
tested but a confirmed fact. However, this fact is very
general and has a broad range of implications. This
lack of specificity makes it difficult for an organization
to translate the global objective of waste elimination
into specific expectations with respect to a JIT strategy. Furthermore, besides the generic expectation of
eliminating waste, no research has as yet pointed out
any specific expectations for JIT purchasing. The

Just-in-Time purchasing and the partnership strategy

explanation is quite simple: any organization is


uniquely characterized by its sector of activity, its size,
its stage of evolution, its organizational culture, its
mission, its board of directors, and many other parameters, variables and constraints. It is thus impossible to
bring forward specific expectations that will suit all
organizations. Nevertheless, this does not mean that it
is impossible for an organization to formulate its own
specific expectations, and we suggest an analytical
approach to help managers identify and formulate
these.
Marchington (1979) developed a model of technology and power that is a function of three variables:
pervasiveness,
immediacy
and
substitutability.
Pervasiveness refers to the degree of penetration of
the effects of a disruption into the organization;
immediacy refers to the speed of transmission of the
effects of a disruption; and substitutability refers to the
interchangeability of the resources mobilized internally and externally to perform the activities of an
organization.
Marchington's model suggests that the strategic
position of individuals and groups within an organization is contingent upon their relationships to the core
processes. This means that individuals who are capable
of disrupting an organizational or production process
have more power than those who are not. This concept
may be transposed to strategic choices such as JIT
implementation. Wilkinson and Oliver (1989) used
Marchington's model to provide a theoretical analysis
of JIT, and in turn we shall discuss this model as a tool
that permits the identification and formulation of
specific JIT purchasing expectations for a buying firm.
First, to summarize using Wilkinson and Oliver's
point of view, JIT is characterized by high pervasiveness, high immediacy, high internal substitutability and
low external substitutability; for JIT purchasing, only
external substitutability is considered, as internal
substitutability refers primarily to workers' polyvalence. Qualifying JIT as highly pervasive is justified by
the fact that activities are so tightly linked together
that any disruption outside the core activities is likely
to affect these activities. JIT is also associated with
high immediacy because the reaction time is considerably shorter than it is within a traditional production
and operation context. Buffer stocks are usually low,
suppliers are required to increase delivery frequencies
and decrease lot sizes, and within the production
process the lot sizes are also reduced and set-ups are
more frequent.
Finally, JIT purchasing is associated with low external substitutability because the supplying process has
to be modified to suit JIT-specific requirements. These
modifications may imply some special agreements with
the supplier, and in turn these agreements may result
in the implementation of other operating modes
between the client and its suppliers, operating modes
that involve the development of special skills and a

different understanding of the supplying process.


These necessary changes will differentiate JIT suppliers, making them more difficult to replace.
Consider a situation where, in a JIT context, a sole
supplier fails to deliver the proper quantity, the
supplied lot size being less than the ordered lot size.
The effects of such a disruption are likely to be felt:
(a) deeply within the organization (for instance, a
temporary production halt may occur); and (b) rapidly,
as in JIT lot sizes are small and buffer are low. As
t h e r e is only one supplier, there is no immediate possibility of correcting the situation by using another
supplier, the external substitutability being low.
Therefore, to identify and formulate specific expectations using Marchington's model, the following
questions should be answered:
(1)

(2)
(3)

With respect to pervasiveness, how could the


effects of a disruption in the purchasing/supplying
process be controlled?
With respect to immediacy, how rapidly could the
effects of a disruption be eliminated?
With respect to external substitutability and
within the context of a reduced supplier base,
what is the expected performance of a supplier
that will compensate for its low substitutability?

These questions raise several issues. Question 1


concerns the overall aspect of monitoring the purchasing/supplying process and the substitute courses of
action to be undertaken if a disruption occurs (for
instance, very low set-up times will enable quick
changes in the production schedule). Question 2
concerns the aspect of reaction time in correcting
disruption consequences (for instance, working with
the suppliers to reduce their own set-up times so that
their response time will be minimized). Question 3
concerns the issue of selecting and evaluating the
suppliers in such a way that the risk associated with
their low substitutability will be minimized (for
instance, long-term and exclusivity agreements to
create incentives for a higher performance level).
We believe that the answers to these three questions
should be very revealing for an organization regarding
its vulnerability with respect to the three variables of
Marchington's model in JIT purchasing agreements
with its suppliers. For any organization, knowing its
own Achilles' heel is probably the most crucial step,
and thereafter the identification and formulation of its
expectations should be no more than a formality.

The success factors o f JIT purchasing


A recent literature survey of JIT success factors
reports on those cited in reviewed publications since
1988 (G61inas et al, 1994). It reveals that, overall,
the most acknowledged categories of success factors
for JIT are purchasing, production, quality, and
41

Ren~ G~linas et al

management; these categories are generally recognized to be the main streams of JIT. For the
purchasing category, Table 1 lists the most
frequently cited JIT success factors.
It can be seen that JIT supplying is the most cited
and studied success factor, at least among the studies
reported within this paper. This success factor mainly
concerns technical aspects of the performance of the
suppliers: delivery frequencies, lot sizes, reliability,
lead times and flexibility. Although partnership is
listed second with respect to its occurrence frequency,
we believe that this success factor is increasingly being
recognized as of crucial importance. Considering that
some of the other success factors, such as JIT supplying and the restructuring of the suppliers network,
imply a high degree of commitment as well as some
physical changes in the operational mode of the suppliers, there has to be, above all, a framework that will
protect and benefit both parties in the purchasing/
supplying process. The next section proposes the
partnership strategy as a global framework facilitating
the emergence of the other success factors.

Partnership: a catalyst for the other JIT


purchasing success factors
Depending on the expectations of a buying firm, it is
possible to identify three broad categories of suppliers:
capacity suppliers, speciality suppliers, and intelligence
suppliers (Drolet et al, 1994). A capacity supplier
responds strictly to its clients' demands and follows
their instructions and specifications carefully. In this
case, the suppliers are selected mainly on a best-price
basis. A speciality supplier may innovate or improve on
product specifications. In this second case, the suppliers are selected according to price and quality. The
intelligence supplier innovates and develops for its
clients but is also a partner in these research and development efforts. In this case, the suppliers are selected,
in addition to price and quality, on the basis of the
interaction potential that they offer to their clients.
The relationship strategy that a buying firm will
adopt with its suppliers depends upon the types of
supplier with which it wants to interact. The choice of
the appropriate type of supplier is influenced by

Table 1 JIT purchasing success factors


JIT supplyinga

Schonberger, 1982; Hall, 1983; Crawford et al, 1988; Jordan, 1988; Krause and Keller,
1988; Malley and Ray, 1988; Manoocheri, 1988; O'Neal, 1988; Arnold and Bernard,
1989; Dion et al, 1990; Golhar et al, 1990; Inman and Mehra, 1990; Willis and Huston,
1990; Billesbach et al, 1991; Brown and Mitchell, 1991; Delbridge and Oliver, 1991;
Goh and Hum, 1991; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Weber et al, 1991; Davy et al, 1992;
Hong and Hayya, 1992; McDaniel et al, 1992; Mehra and lnman, 1992; Moras and
Dieck, 1992; St-John and Heriot, 1993

Partnership

Crawford et al, 1988; Jordan, 1988; Lieb and Miller, 1988; Chapman and Carter, 1990;
Giupinero, 1990; Harrison and Voss, 1990; Willis and Huston, 1990; Goh and Hum,
1991; Golhar and Stamrn, 1991; Jaussaud and Kageyama, 1991; Stamm and Golhar,
1991; Davy et al, 1992; Dion et al, 1992; Graham et al, 1992; Hong and Hayya, 1992;
McDaniel et al, 1992

Restructuring of the suppliers' network

Jordan, 1988; Malley and Ray, 1988; Manoocheri, 1988; Wilkinson and Oliver, 1989;
Giupinero, 1990; Willis and Huston, 1990; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Jaussaud and
Kageyama, 1991; Monden, 1991; Swenseth and Buffa, 1991; Anvari, 1992; Hong and
Hayya, 1992; Mehra and Inman, 1992; McDaniel et al, 1992; St-John and Heriot, 1993

Quality of the purchased products

Malley and Ray, 1988; O'Neal, 1989; Wilkinson and Oliver, 1989; Golhar et al, 1990;
Willis and Huston, 1990; Gob and Hum, 1991; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Monden,
1991; Bartezzaghi et al, 1992; Dion et al, 1992; Duimering et al, 1993; St-John and
Heriot, 1993

Long-term and exclusivity agreements with suppliers

Lieb and Miller, 1988; Pan and Liao, 1989; Wilkinson and Oliver, 1989; Willis and
Huston, 1990; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Swenseth and Buffa, 1991; Anvari, 1992;
Hong and Hayya, 1992; McDaniel et al, 1992; Landry and Trudel, 1993; St-John and
Heriot, 1993

Proximity of the suppliers

Malley and Ray, 1988; Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Etkin et al, 1990; Willis and
Huston, 1990; Golhar and Stamm, 1991; Jaussaud and Kageyama, 1991; Weber et al,
1991; Anvari, 1992; McDaniel et al, 1992

Evaluation and selection of suppliers

Malley and Ray, 1988; Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Giupinero and Law, 1990; Inman
and Mehra, 1990; Willis and Huston, 1990; Weber et al, 1991; Mehra and Inman, 1992

Restructuring of the transporters network

Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Golhar et al, 1990; Larson, 1991; Swenseth and Buffa,
1991; McDaniel et al, 1992

Costs control

Arnold and Bernard, 1989; Goh and Hum, 1991; Weber et al, 1991; Hong and Hayya,
1992

Suppliers' attitude towards JIT

Malley and Ray, 1988; Manoocheri, 1988; Delbridge and Oliver, 1991

~Increase in the delivery frequencies, smaller lot sizes, delivery reliability, reduced lead times, suppliers' flexibility, and deliveries at the point
of utilization.

42

Just-in-Time purchasing and the partnership strategy

several considerations. The first of these is the relative


importance for the client of the purchased resources.
Less critical resources may require only capacity
suppliers, while extremely critical resources may
favour the choice of an intelligence supplier. A n o t h e r
factor is the evolution of the design of purchased
resources. Static/simple design (over time) may lead to
the choice Of a capacity supplier, static/complex design
may prompt the choice of a speciality supplier, and
dynamic design may require intelligence suppliers.
Finally, a third factor having an impact on the type of
supplier to be selected is the complexity of the
relationship to be established. As the complexity of the
relationship increases (JIT for instance), the type of
supplier is likely to move from a capacity supplier
towards an intelligence supplier.
A company that desires to exert, through its
purchasing activities, some influence over its supplying
sources may choose a relationship strategy that is
somewhere between two extremes: a concurrency
strategy and a partnership strategy. The concurrency
strategy consists in the sharing of the purchased volume
between several suppliers, which belong mainly to the
capacity suppliers category. The buying firm may
simultaneously use different suppliers, change suppliers over time, or both. Moreover, the percentage of the
total volume allocated to each supplier may vary. As a
consequence, provided that there is a sufficient
number of suppliers, none has the certainty of a sale,
but the buyer is always guaranteed a supplying source.
Clearly this strategy may be appropriate in a context
where the main objective is the minimization of buying
costs. But in a JIT purchasing context, there are a
number of contradictions between the short-term
consequences of the concurrency strategy and JIT
objectives. The main one is that such a strategy is likely
to lead to transactional agreements that will not last:
hence a supplier will not have any incentive to change
its operational mode, as there are no trade-offs, such
as exclusivity or long-term contracts.
At the opposite pole from the concurrency strategy
is partnership strategy, which may be increasingly
appropriate as the desired type of supplier moves from
the capacity suppliers category to the intelligence
suppliers category. The company that chooses the
partnership strategy does so to encourage a supplier to
deliver a better performance than the one that it would
otherwise spontaneously deliver (Fenneteau, 1990). In
a partnership strategy, the upgrading of the global
performance and, eventually, the control of transaction
costs by the supplier are contingent upon the buying
firm's continuous loyalty. Without this loyalty, a true
and profitable cooperation (win-win) is unlikely to
emerge.
The advantages of the partnership strategy (based
on an analysis of the empirical evidence cited above)
for a buying firm and a supplier are presented in Table
2. These advantages could not possibly exist in a short-

Table 2 Partnership strategy advantages


Buying firm

Supplier

A better understanding of its


needs by the suppliers
Exclusivity of certain services by
the supplier
Knowledge transfer from the
supplier to its clients
Supplier's implication in product
innovation and improvement
Reduced supplying risks
Enable agreements on specific
transactions and operational
modes

Long-term commitment
Exclusivity agreements
Knowledge transfer from the
client to the supplier
Buying firm's implication in
process innovation and
improvement
Support from the buying firm

term relationship based on a concurrency strategy. Of


course, there may also be drawbacks to a partnership
strategy. A major one for the buying firm would be the
difficulties and the costs associated with a change of
supplier. As for the supplier, the main disadvantage
would be the risk related to a client that doesn't fulfil
its commitments, especially when the transaction
volume of the client represents a large proportion of
the supplier's total income.
So far we have defined the concept of partnership,
and presented its main advantages and disadvantages.
Now we consider situations that favour partnership,
and examine how they relate to JIT purchasing.
These situations may be grouped into three
categories: (a) the interaction potential between the
buyer and the supplier; (b) the singularity of the
demand; and (c) the risks related to the buying process
(Fenneteau, 1990). With respect to the interaction
potential, there are many situations where partnership
may be viewed as an interesting relationship strategy.
The first one occurs when both the client and the
supplier must work together to design the product that
is the object of the transaction. A second situation
occurs when a tight and complex synchronization must
be established between the client and the supplier.
Third, if it is necessary to establish a long-term agreement, partnership will be an appropriate avenue. These
first three situations are related to operational aspects
of the interactions between the client and the supplier.
There also exist cost-related considerations, such as
high negotiation costs and delay, and high substitution
costs of suppliers.
With respect to the singularity of demand, situations
favourable to the partnership strategy are characterized by:

the specificity of the client's needs;


the specificity of the client's expectations with
respect to deliveries and services;
the type of demand;
the benefits to a client in establishing exclusivity
agreements concerning supplier innovations.
43

RenO GOlinas et al

Last, with respect to the risks related to the buying


process, a critical situation occurs when a disruption in
the purchasing/supplying process may lead to serious
and irreversible consequences for the buyer. In such a
situation, partnership is likely to be an appropriate
strategy to reduce and control purchasing-related risks.
When situations that favour partnership are
compared with the benefits of JIT purchasing, the
expectations of the buying firm, and JIT success factors
in the purchasing process, it becomes obvious that a
partnership strategy has a lot in common with several
aspects of JIT.
For instance, we have stated above that some of the
most recognized benefits of JIT purchasing are lead-time
reduction, inventory level reduction, an improvement in
quality, a decrease in inventory holding costs, and a
reduction in the size of the supplier base. It would be
surprising to assume that these benefits could be
observed in a relationship that excluded any form of
support and commitment from the buying firm. Such
benefits are likely to depend on substantial efforts from
the supplier, and there have to be guarantees that these
efforts would be as profitable to the supplier as they are
for the buying firm. However, these guarantees (such as
long-term commitment, exclusivity agreements, technical
support, information sharing, and knowledge transfer)
are not usually part of the dealing basis within a concurrency strategy. Thus the partnership strategy offers a
framework that will facilitate the emergence of these
guarantees and put both parties in a win-win situation.
With regard to the expectations of the buying firm in
JIT purchasing, there is a convergence towards the
ultimate goal of eliminating waste at all levels. One
example is the time lost by a buying firm in coordinating the purchasing process in a multi-supplier environment. In JIT purchasing, this time should be spent more
efficiently on controlling pervasiveness effects, finding
ways of rapidly eliminating disruption effects, and
working to obtain from the remaining suppliers a level
of performance that will compensate for the low degree
of substitutability. If a buying firm wants to implement
JIT purchasing, and if a benefit or a consequence is the
reduction in the number of its suppliers, few possibilities
remain for the establishment of a concurrency relationship strategy. Thus a partnership strategy will encourage
suppliers to reach a high level of performance without
leaving the bitter impression that they are being forced
into JIT and that their efforts are worthless.
The success factors of JIT purchasing are also very
closely related to the conditions that favour partnership. In JIT, the buying firm and the supplier are
expected to work together to satisfy specific clients'
needs and expectations (JIT supply), to achieve better
cost control, and to reach long-term and exclusivity
agreements. These success factors are also the prevailing conditions for partnership, and therefore demonstrate that this relationship strategy could be an
appropriate framework for JIT purchasing.
44

Finally, it appears that the nature of the interactions


between a buying firm and its suppliers is, in some
instances, quite different today from what it was 15 or
20 years ago. Besides partnership, other types of
relationship are encountered. For example, one that is
worth noting regarding its adequacy for JIT purchasing, is the concept of lean supply (Lamming, 1993).
Under lean supply, the suppliers are considered as
extremely competent manufacturers, which should
seek success through innovation and global competitiveness. The lean supply concept may be seen as an
extension of partnership, strongly oriented towards the
specific linkage of a buying firm with typical intelligence suppliers. Within global production environments, lean supply should be a very interesting
research avenue, especially in contexts where strategic
and competitive advantages are expected to be gained
through JIT purchasing.

Conclusion
The objective of this article was to present the recognized facts about JIT purchasing benefits, buyers'
expectations concerning JIT purchasing, and JIT
purchasing success factors. The identification of these
facts was based on the convergence of results found in
reviewed publications between 1988 and 1993. These
studies are analytical, empirical or case studies. After
the identification of the JIT purchasing related facts,
the partnership strategy was discussed and the suitability for JIT purchasing demonstrated. Moreover, the
similarities between the favourable situations for
partnership and the facts about JIT purchasing were
pointed out.
The main conclusion of the article is that facts about
JIT purchasing may not be compatible with a concurrency relationship strategy when the buying firm seeks
some influence (in a win-win context) over its suppliers. On the other hand, the characteristics of a partnership strategy and the situations in which this strategy
might be a good choice are closely linked to several
aspects of JIT purchasing. Hence, based on past
research and the present analysis, it seems highly
conceivable that JIT purchasing would suffer from a
serious lack of support outside a partnership strategy
framework. This does not mean that the ideal partnership is an absolute prerequisite for JIT purchasing to
be profitable; it simply means that the further a
buyer-supplier relationship departs from the partnership strategy, the more difficult it will be to implement
success factors, meet the expectations of the buying
firm, and realize the benefits of JIT purchasing.

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Just-in-Time purchasing and the partnership strategy


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