How procurement managers view low cost countries and geographies: A perceptual mapping approach

Joseph R. Carter, Arnold Maltz, Tingting Yan, Elliot Maltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose - There is good evidence that the shift in global sourcing is toward so-called "low cost country suppliers." Yet conditions in these countries are often not well-known. At the same time, best practices in integrated supply dictate a multi-faceted decision, rather than basing supplier location on a single attribute say, labor cost alone. With these issues in mind, a research project was formulated with two primary objectives. First, the authors wanted to compile the knowledge and perceptions of purchasing managers regarding low cost regions and their capabilities and to reflect the multiple factors involved in current sourcing strategies and supplier selection decisions in these low cost geographies. Second, the authors wanted to compare managers' subjective perceptions with objective data regarding attributes of sourcing locations to identify the relationship between perceptions and reality. This paper aims to explore the issues. Design/methodology/approach - The authors surveyed over 100 sourcing professionals on their perceptions of various low cost sourcing alternatives. Perceptual mapping techniques were used to combine the rankings on some 12 different attributes to visualize how the various attributes relate to each other and how the low cost regions compare when rated against sourcing managers' ideal perceptions. Findings - The research results show that procurement managers select regions for low cost sourcing based on both specific measures and individual and/or group perceptions of the region, whether these perceptions are correct or not. This paper probes these perceptions. Also the paper compares these subjective perceptions with objective data to show that cultural stereotypes may bias managers' perception of location-specific characteristics. The paper closes with implications for procurement managers and opportunities for further research. Practical implications - The authors have demonstrated that purchasing managers choose sourcing locations using multiple criteria instead of only focusing on cost. But some perceptions are biased by cultural stereotypes and do not reflect reality. This suggests that managers have to be careful when using their subjective judgment in choosing sourcing locations. Originality/value - The authors believe that visual representations of alternative sourcing options have great potential to improve the efficiency of cross-disciplinary and multi-company teams that are increasingly responsible for global sourcing strategies. Comparing managers' perception with objective data of location attributes shows that mangers' perception may be biased by cultural stereotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-243
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • International business
  • Sourcing
  • Supplier evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'How procurement managers view low cost countries and geographies: A perceptual mapping approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this