Intuitive global sourcing – a study of supplier selection decisions by apparel SMEs

Chris Ellegaard, Ulla Normann, Nina Lidegaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to create knowledge on the intuitive global sourcing process applied by small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) managers.

This study reports on qualitative inquiries with experienced sourcing managers from 10 SMEs in the textile industry. The study follows a three-step semi-structured interviewing process, allowing us to gradually unveil the detailed nature of the intuitive supplier selection process.

Nine of the 10 SMEs rely on a highly intuitive supplier selections process, where one supplier at a time is gradually taken into the exchange while testing the supplier’s behavior. The process consists of an early heuristics sub-process, which gradually switches over to a more advanced intuiting behavioral pattern-matching process.

Practical implications
Most OM/SCM research has treated global sourcing and supplier selection as a highly rational, analytical and deliberate optimization problem. This study uncovers a completely different, and frequently successful, intuitive process, which could inspire managers in companies of all sizes, faced with high uncertainty about global supplier selection decisions.

Intuition has recently been adopted in the global sourcing literature. However, this study is the first to offer detailed insights into a predominantly intuitive global sourcing process, specifically as it is managed by SMEs.

Translated title of the contributionIntuitiv global sourcing - et studie af beslutninger omkring leverandørvalg i SMVer i beklædningsbranchen
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)151-181
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022


  • business community, trade and economy


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