Purpose: The strategic importance of the purchasing function increases, as its task become more dynamic in various interfaces with different suppliers. Changes in these customer–supplier interfaces pose specific challenges. The purpose of this study is to investigate how the purchasing function handles the interplay of interface changes. Design/methodology/approach: This study applies a qualitative single case study design. Data are collected through observations and interviews conducted before, during and after a concrete change of interface taking place between a buying firm and its suppliers and customers. Findings: Three main findings are identified to redefine the tasks of the purchasing function. The first concerns the new ways of defining the purchasing tasks. The main issue is to balance tasks with the simultaneous changes influencing other interfaces and relationships. The second is the division and alignment of tasks in intra- and inter-organizational networks with regards to who decides and coordinates what. Third, the inter-connected performance relates to how other actors perform their tasks. For the purchasing function, managing supplier interfaces influences and is influenced by how the firm simultaneously manages its user interface. Practical implications: For management, a new way to evaluate the performance of the purchasing function is needed by including relationship management and interactive capabilities. Originality/value: This study contributes with new insights into how managing the dynamics of changing interfaces requires interactively defined purchasing tasks, division and alignment of tasks and inter-connected performance vis-à-vis others in the wider network setting.
- Customer–supplier relationship
- Purchasing function
- Resource interfaces