Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to uncover how buying companies use sourcing intermediaries to manage supply risks in global sourcing. Design/methodology/approach – The authors carry out an explorative qualitative study of the clothing industry, interviewing key respondents who occupy different positions in the supply chain, including sourcing intermediaries, retailers, and brand marketers. Findings – Sourcing intermediaries carry out a broad range of supply risk management functions, including design availability and support, and the operation of high risk markets. The authors identify different sourcing intermediary types, characterised by the set of functions they handle. Research limitations/implications – By analysing a limited set of in-depth interviews in one industry the authors have traded off broader analytical generalization for in-depth exploration and theory building. Therefore, future research should test the findings in other industries and across broader populations. Practical implications – Sourcing intermediaries carry out valuable supply risk reducing functions in global sourcing and must be considered as alternatives to direct sourcing or international purchasing offices. Originality/value – The paper contributes by identifying the supply risk management functions that sourcing intermediaries carry out for buying companies. The paper also contributes by uncovering different types of sourcing intermediaries, determined by the collection of functions handled.
Supply Chain Management, 2013, Vol 18, Issue 5, p. 509-522
Garment industry, Global sourcing, Intermediaries, Qualitative research, Risk management, Sourcing, Sourcing intermediary, Supply risk; Clothing industry; sourcing intermediary; supply risk; risk management; global sourcing; qualitative research