Purpose: The purpose of this research is to uncover how buying companies use sourcing intermediaries to manage supply risks in global sourcing. Design/methodology/approach: We carry out an explorative qualitative study of the clothing industry, interviewing key respondents that 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. We 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 we 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: We contribute by identifying the supply risk management functions that sourcing intermediaries carry out for buying companies. We also contribute by uncovering different types of sourcing intermediaries, determined by the collection of functions handled.
Supply Chain Management: an International Journal, 2013, Vol 18, Issue 5, p. 509-522