Although Supplier Development (SD) has been of importance to industry for a number of years, the academic community has been slower to study this phenomenon. However, in the last two decades the focus on SD has increased. This research is particularly addressing SD from both an industry and academic perspective.
The specific weakness of existing activities within industry in deploying their SD programs is the lack of a systematic approach. Given that such an approach could not be identified within the literature either, it is argued here that there was a widespread need for purchasing and supply chain management professionals to be able to identify appropriate SD activities by means of an appropriate method or framework.
To address this research gap, this thesis has developed a conceptual SD framework through action research. This is the first study which demonstrates the development and detailed account of the implementation process. Performance improvements observed include: improving delivery and quality performance of selected suppliers.
Empirical evidence was collected from supply chain practitioners via interviews/ questionnaires pre- and post-implementation to identify their views on the important issues to consider when developing and implementing a SD framework.
Key practical implications of the SD framework are the alignment of goals/objectives internally within the organisation and with the suppliers. It is intended to serve as a high level process map for SD and acts as a communication tool to create a common understanding of key steps involved in SD amongst all the stakeholders involved.
Future research should explore case studies and/ or involve survey methods with a wider audience to increase the validity of the results. Finally, this thesis takes a buying firm’s perspective only and does not include any views from the supplier’s perspective; therefore taking a supplier’s perspective is also a key recommendation for future research.