European Survey on Purchasing Competences - 3rd White Paper: purchasing skills leading to success - outcomes, results and outlooks

Klaas Stek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Executive summary – new findings of the survey are partly in line with PSM literature and PSM learning objectives Takeaways are: • Skills leading to purchasing success: 1. Technical knowledge of products and production systems - Understanding the technical aspects of products/processes. 2. Cross-cultural Awareness; Global Sourcing; Innovation Implementation; Solicit Offers (equal on the second place). 3. Inventiveness; Leadership; Cost Reduction; Negotiation; Project Management; Supplier Relationship Management; Sustainability; Cooperate with R&D and Legal (equal on the third place). • PSM professionals are ambivalent on the role of cost reductions and quality improvement. • The focus is first on ‘quality’ as the most important objective and second are costs reductions. • However, PSM professionals are better at reducing costs than in improving quality. • The top-5 ranking of self-assessed characterisations of junior and senior PSM professionals are except one soft skills. Both mention: honesty, loyalty and conscientiousness Juniors add: learning motivation and social manners, whereas seniors state their purchasing knowledge and being proactive. Executives deviate and mention (accumulated) knowledge: purchasing knowledge, optimising processes, supplier relationship management, requesting quotations and evaluating offers. To find out what skills and competencies to incorporate in a European PSM curriculum modules project PERFECT has taken three steps. First, the project mapped PSM skills landscape by performing a literature review, an analysis of learning objectives in universities and analysing 300 European PSM job advertisements. The second step -a qualitative research- interviewing 46 PSM higher management personnel on current and future skills. The core of the third step (research described here) is the European Survey on Purchasing Skills and the subsequent result analyses. The survey contains 88 skills items asking self-assessed competency and importance of the tasks. The results connect to efforts and successes reached in seven PSM focus area: costs, quality, delivery, innovation, sustainability, long-term competitive advantage, and suppliers’ satisfaction (PERFECT, 2016, 2017). The survey had 581 responses by November 2017. The White Paper is however based upon n=516, which was the set that was taken in September 2017. Participants come from three sectors: Industry (35%), Service (35%), and Public Procurement (30%). Juniors (40%), seniors (45%), and executives (15%) filled out the survey. About 68% of the participants is from the Netherlands, 9% is French, 7% is German, 2% is Finnish, 2% is Swiss and 12% is from multiple other countries. There is apparently a Dutch bias in this study. It showed that 44 of the 88 skills where associated with one or more success factors. Technical knowledge of products and production systems or in other words the understanding the technical aspects of products/processes is the most important skill; it is necessary for five different objectives: costs, quality, delivery, innovation and long-term competitive advantage. It is striking that the top-10 consists of a mix of explicit knowledge and soft skills/tacit knowledge (see table 1). It means that the best purchasing professional has strong interpersonal communication abilities combined with strong substance understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Survey on Purchasing Competences - 3rd White Paper
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017


  • Purchasing and Supply Management Skills Survey Success Factors

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