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Overall Reflections and Limitations

7. Discussion

7.4 Overall Reflections and Limitations

aggregated holistically in the end for representation purposes and will most likely reflect greater precision.

sourcing strategies specifically for the agricultural industry and it can be argued that it serves as a hypothetical foundation before exploring the practical field of study. However, in order to complete the loop of study, the practical findings should similarly be applied to the theoretical framework.

The loop of study thus refers to the action of moving from theory to practice and then back to theory enabling possible improvements to emerge. As a result, the theoretical framework should be reviewed and considerations and experiences derived from practice should be taken into account in order to theoretically form a solid basis for developing sourcing strategies for agricultural commodities.

Firstly, practice implies that the strategic sourcing process is a working document that is continuously updated without taking any specific order of steps into account. Since this allows for a flexible workflow and potentially a more effective use of time, it is recommended that such considerations should be adapted to the theoretical framework. Thus the theory on the strategic sourcing process can be criticized for emphasizing the reliance on a step-by-step approach, since it is largely incompatible with the practical application and execution of such a process. On the other hand, Handfield et al. (2011) explicitly highlight that the strategy development steps presented are relatively general and it can be argued that they are formulated in such generic manner in order to fit different commodities as well as supply markets.

The practical application of the product portfolio matrix in particular has revealed major differences from the application stipulated in theory. Literature on the purchasing portfolio matrix largely does not shed on how the application of matrix changes depending on the industry, company, buyer, and commodity. However, just from this single case study it can be derived that the practical application and purpose of the product portfolio matrix deviate significantly from theory, since the manner in which the matrix is applied differs entirely from buyer to buyer. Theory to a large extent fails to cover how the usage of matrix changes depending on who is using it and this underexplored matter should be investigated further and form the basis for future studies. This not only applies on an individual level, but also on a business unit and department level.

Furthermore, Kraljic’s founding purchasing portfolio matrix was initially criticized for the lack of alignment and application to practice and it can be discussed whether these criticisms are

still valid to some extent. Theory does shed light on the fact that the dimensions within the purchasing portfolio matrix can be altered according to specific needs, however, these needs are not necessarily taking the industry characteristics into account as attempted in the theoretical framework used as the foundation for this thesis. Ideally, relevant industry specific supply risks such as seasonality and perishability should be incorporated into the matrix in order to underpin and specify the application.

With regards to the strategic movements, the case on CT shows that greater focus is placed on suppliers, whereas the movement of products is largely neglected. This is only possible due to the fact that the supplier view matrix is structured similarly to the product portfolio matrix. In theory the purchasing portfolio matrix is used as the basis for the principles and actions of strategic movements and thus the manner in which CT considers strategic movements is adopted from that.

As discussed above, it is recommended that CT uses a tool more similar to the Dutch Windmill model in order to position suppliers directly based upon the quadrants in the product portfolio matrix. However, in that case the possibility of considering strategic movements of the suppliers becomes challenging, since the Dutch Windmill model prescribes that suppliers for products situated in each quadrant should be evaluated separately. It should thus be argued whether the Dutch Windmill model is compatible and applicable to practice and furthermore if there is even a need for such a tool. Drawing on the experiences from this case, it should be questioned whether theory should be adapted accordingly. In other words, it should be considered whether it is sufficient to directly structure and base the Dutch Windmill Model upon the purchasing portfolio matrix in order to easily consider supplier movements in practice.

Overall, both practice and theory is subjected to some significant limitations. Theory clearly lacks to cover the subject of determining sourcing strategies for agricultural commodities and it is generally recommended that further studies should be focused on clarifying this matter. Moreover, future research on how the application of models such as the purchasing portfolio matrix and the Dutch Windmill model changes depending upon who it is used by should also be addressed. On the other hand, it should be emphasized that the practical findings of this study are limited by the fact that these are based upon one case and company. This immediately raises a concern to whether the

limited scope of the practical findings achieved through this study can actually serve as a foundation for developing agricultural specific sourcing strategies in the future. In order to fully establish a theoretical foundation that companies purchasing agricultural commodities can rely on, similar natured studies that take into account multiple cases should be conducted.